Visiting new shops, sightseeing and relaxing on the beach are vacation activities that can make lasting memories for you and your dog. Many dogs leap at the opportunity for new adventures, but for some dogs travel can be stressful. Before including your dog in your vacation plans, here are a few considerations.
Will Your Dog Enjoy Traveling?
Does meeting new people, staying in a new place and experiencing new sights and smells make his tail wag? Or does he become nervous in new environments? Do new people and sights make his tail drop and increase his panting?
If you find your dog becomes nervous in new situations, then a trip filled with all things new will likely be overwhelming and stressful. Not to worry! Activities in advance of travel like scentwork classes or trick-training activities can help build your dog’s confidence.
Preparing for Travel
If you’re hitting the open road together, make sure your pet is comfortable in the car. Accidents can happen at any time, so buckle up by using a crash-tested and certified carrier or safety harness like those made by Sleepypod.
Start by acclimating your pup to travel with short car rides to fun places, like the park, and work up to longer practice rides. Once the adventure begins, stop for walks so everyone can stretch their legs.
Make practice runs like dining out or sitting at an outdoor cafe together. These rehearsal activities are great for determining how your dog will respond to new situations. Bring a familiar blanket and a non-metal, travel bowl. Practice teaching your dog to lay on the blanket. With a little training, this familiar “outdoor travel spot” can help make unfamiliar locations more relaxing. Reward your dog for being calm and ignoring bustling distractions.
Hotel policies for allowing pets to be left unattended can vary. I always suggest booking a hotel that allows your pet to be left alone. This way, if you have any activities that aren’t so pet friendly or if perhaps your dog needs a break, then he can always go back for a nap to decompress. And don’t forget to hang the Do-Not-Disturb sign on the doorknob!
Some cities are very dog friendly and some, simply put, do not roll out the welcome mat. Take the time to research dog-friendly activities and call just before travel to confirm, as rules do sometimes change.
Consider a short weekend getaway before booking your calendar with adventures. A practice trip can either teach you both just how easy pet travel can be or provide indicators of what to practice in advance of future travel.
Pack extra food with your dog’s travel gear. Your brand of dog food might not be available at your destination. Travel can be upsetting to your dog’s tummy, so you don’t want the addition of new food thrown into the mix.
Pack a copy of vaccination records, your veterinarian’s contact information and make sure your dog’s microchip and tags are up to date.
Above all, make the experience a positive one for your dog. When your dog has happy travel memories, he’ll beat you to the door the next time he hears your car keys jingle.