Traveling With Your Toy Dog
It’s so hard to leave your fur-babies when you go on vacation, whether you kennel them, take them to a friend’s, or have a house sitter. If you’re anything like me, you feel guilty at leaving them (even if it is a lovely break from pet care). Here are my Top 13 Tips on How to Travel with a Dog.
Some vacations are perfect for sharing with your dog, and some… well, if you’ve ever wondered if it would be fun for both of you, here are some important considerations that will help you decide whether travel is right for your dog.
- Consider the activities. Don’t think that just because you brought your dog, you won’t be able to do “people things” too.
- Museums, concerts, dining out, and nightlife are obviously not pup-friendly but it can work if you make plenty of time between cultural pursuits for active doggy play time, and if your pup is okay being alone while you expand your cultural horizons.
- Skiing… only if your pup is okay being alone in a strange condo while you ski, and you aren’t too tired to give her lots of attention apres-ski!
- Hiking, cottage-by-the-lake, camping, the beach… definitely for the dogs!
- Urban adventures are great with little dogs. So many smells! Know your dog’s preferences and temperament, and focus at least some of your time on dog-friendly activities like exploring parks and neighborhoods.
- Consider your dog’s temperament. Not all dogs are easygoing in new situations. If they’re anxious in unfamiliar places where they’re left alone (like hotel rooms), exhibit aggression toward strangers or other dogs, and are prone to destructive behavior, you won’t be able to enjoy your vacation unless your dog is with you all the time.
- Not everybody loves dogs. You love your dog… and most of the world thinks he’s adorable, but there are people who consider dogs to be a nuisance, and not everyone is nice about it. Never assume that your dog is welcome, even in a purse. Always ask.
- A sedated dog isn’t a happy dog. Sedating them for the trip might be convenient for you, but if your dog doesn’t travel well, not only is he being forced into doing things that freak him out, but he feels all woozy and dopey and probably out of control, too. If your pet isn’t a great traveler, and it’s meant to be a vacation, don’t put him through the stress. Leave him at home.
- Motion sickness happens to everyone. Even if your dog never gets car sick, motion sickness can happen. Carry some anti-nausea pills. If possible, make sure your pet can look out the window (seeing the horizon helps with motion sickness), and give him ice cubes. Dogs love to chew on ice cubes. The coldness helps with motion sickness, and ice keeps them busy and hydrated.
- Check ahead. Not all hotels or accommodations accept dogs. In many cases, toy dogs are excepted from a no-dog rule, but check ahead.
- Do a test run. The first trip is the worst so make it short, like a weekend getaway. Bring the gear you are planning on bringing for the big trip. You may need to do a few weekend practice trips together before your pup becomes a comfortable traveler.
- Play your pup hard the day before travel. A tired pup is a more easygoing traveler.
- Give them a safe “den” and save your back. Get a pet travel carrier with wheels and make sure your pet is accustomed to being in the pet carrier for extended periods without anxiety. If a dog understands it’s their den (with her favorite blanket and toys), she’ll be happier.
- Check your flight status. If you’re flying, always call ahead to make sure the flight is on time so you don’t spend hours and hours trapped in an airport with an antsy dog.
- Don’t squeeze ‘em in. Tight spaces can be scary, especially on noisy airplanes. “Under the seat in front of you” (where your pooch’s travel carrier will be stowed) can be very uncomfortable for both of you. Practice before you fly to make sure your dog is okay with confinement in a travel carrier! And if your toy dog is in the upper reaches of the weight limits for in-cabin travel, consider how happy your dog will feel crammed into a tight space for hours.
- Bring chew toys and treats to keep her busy. Keeping your pet busy during travel makes life a lot easier. Make sure to cut back on her food intake to compensate for these extra treats.
- Make him findable. Make sure your pup is microchipped and/or wears a secure collar with your contact info. Pets, especially stressed-out pets, can weasel out of your arms and be gone in a flash.
- Get a car seat or doggy seatbelt. Keep the antics to a minimum in the car, and calm a stressed out pet in their own little “nest.”
- Chicken soup for whatever ails her. Stress, and upset tummies, can be eased by some low-sodium chicken broth.
- Plan for the worst and expect the best. Know where the nearest vets and pharmacies are located. Carry this list, as well as your pet’s medications, vet info, and your contact info. And if you are going on a backcountry trip where no vets are available, always carry a fully stocked first aid kit… and know the basics of first aid!
- Share the bed. Your dog will likely feel anxious in a hotel room and will feel comforted if allowed to sleep with you.
- Increase the exercise. Exercise is a great stress-reliever, gives your pup a chance to explore new surroundings, and prevents boredom. Luckily, toy dogs don’t need a lot of space to run, and it’s easy to exercise them wherever you are but it’s one aspect of the trip that cannot be neglected which is why it’s important to consider the activities that you will be doing and how you can accommodate your dog’s needs too. If you’re tired from a day of skiing… so what? Your dog isn’t.
- Be the Poop Fairy. Dogs in strange places don’t always “go” when and where they’re supposed to. They don’t know where they’re supposed to go, and they’re probably feeling anxious so it’s not their fault. Accidents happen. But you must be prepared. Be the Poop Fairy and come equipped with extra poo bags, and a scrub brush and baking soda in case of soiled carpets.
A Real, FUN Vacation for Both of You
If you take your dog’s needs into consideration, a trip can be a fun vacation for both of you.
But be realistic. If after a couple of test runs you see that your dog hates travel, don’t put her through the ordeal. Make the best arrangements for her to stay at home.
I hope these Top 13 Tips on How to Travel With a Dog will help you out on your next vacation with your dog. What are your recommendations for traveling with a dog?