Some people can’t imagine going on long vacations without their furry friends. According to a survey conducted in 2018, almost 95% of dog owners would want to go on at least a single overnight trip with their dogs. The good thing is most dogs love to travel, so that shouldn’t be an issue. However, it can be quite stressful for you and your dog if both of you are not prepared. By planning your extended trip ahead of time, you can ensure that everything goes smoothly and that you and your dog are comfortable.
If you are planning to go on an extended trip with your dog, whether it’s because of necessity or pleasure, you will need to take some steps to ensure that both you and your dog are prepared for the situations you will face along the way. The steps you should take vary depending on whether you are flying or traveling by road. Both car travels and flights with dogs require some forethought. For instance, you can’t just assume that you will be able to find everything you need for your dog along the way. Here are some things you may want to do to prepare your dog for the extended trip.
Make Copies of Pet-Related Documents
Are you planning to cross borders with your dog? If that’s the case, it’s important to understand the pet-related documents needed for you to do so. Dogs need health records and, in some instances, passports, just like humans. Health records are needed to prove that your dog is fully vaccinated and healthy. When you are traveling with your dog, officials will request to see these documents, and depending on where you are going, they may even make a copy. Additionally, if you plan to visit a vet abroad, they will want to see the pet’s medical history. For these reasons, it makes a lot of sense to keep several copies of your pet’s records and veterinary information at all times. You should even store some virtual copies online or on your phone, then some printed copies.
Double-Check Airline Policies
If you are planning to fly, especially internationally, it’s crucial to always double, if not triple-check airline policies on pets. Airlines are constantly changing and updating their rules, so you must never assume that just because you didn’t face challenges on a previous flight, the rules are still the same. This is why you must always be extra certain that you and your dog are welcome on the flight you are planning to take. A good idea would be to check the airline’s website. You can also give them a call if you aren’t able to find the information you are looking for. You will also find that the prices of flying with your pet can vary. The prices and policies generally depend on the airlines, the country you are visiting, the size of your pet, and such. You can also get the option to have your pet travel in the cabin, cargo, or baggage. If you are unsure about the differences between these three, you must research before picking an option.
Train Your Dog and Teach It Manners
Before you start looking into self storage, transport services, and travel trailers, you should take time to prepare your dog for the journey. It’s best if you teach your dog a thing or two about being in public. This includes basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” This will make it easier to manage your dog when you travel. Did you know that you can even leave a well-trained dog in a motel room for a few hours while you attend to some business? It’s also highly likely that your businesses and services will agree to your request if they see that your dog is well behaved. No one wants to accommodate a rowdy dog that barks all the time and won’t listen to its owner. You should spend the majority of your training time working on manners and obedience. This will help ensure that your dog always puts its best paw forward.
Are you not sure how to go about training your dog? In such instances, it might be a very good idea to look for a certified trainer. You can easily find one who is located near you. If you can’t afford a trainer, you will have to start your training ahead of time. Fortunately, there are lots of online resources that you can use to ensure that your dog is ready to venture out into the world. There are lots of YouTube channels that can show you how to train your dog.
Ask Yourself If Your Dog Is Ready to Travel
Not all trips involve flying. Maybe yours involves long-distance car travels, Yamaha vehicles, and lots of fun outdoor activities. If that’s the case, you will still want to ask yourself if your dog is ready to travel. It’s important to be very honest with yourself when it comes to your dog’s behavior. If you managed to train your dog and it now understands and follows basic commands, then at least that’s a step closer to it being in public without causing problems. However, you will also need to figure out how the dog behaves around new people and other pets you take it to strange situations or for extended periods.
If your dog is still in training, you may want to start with shorter trips before going on the extended one. Even day trips will do, or a simple trip to the park, dog-friendly stores, and restaurants. That will give you a glimpse into how a vacation with your dog might go.
Your dog doesn’t really need to be a social butterfly for your extended trip to go well, but you will want to ensure that he’ll be comfortable and safe when he meets other dogs and new people along the way.
If you know you will want to take your dog on an extended trip later, you will need to start things slow. Avoid making your first extended trip a cross-country drive. The dog needs to gradually ease into travel. That will also allow you to see how both of you may handle the extended trip. If you like what you see, you can then start planning further.
Pack the Essentials
Once you are done with the logistics of being on a plane with your dog, it will be time to ensure that you carry everything that your furry friend needs. You can’t just grab your dog and leave the house. There are several items that you will definitely need to bring along. For instance, you should always carry a leash and harness, poop bags, and ID tags. You must also pack your dog’s essentials. Not all locations have good pet stores, so you might not be able to find them during your travels. Other things you need include dog food and water, toys, a bed, bowls, flea, and tick medicine.
Plan for Success
If you are planning to travel with your dog so you can have fun, you need to focus on trips that are going to be a success for you and the dog. Dogs generally love outdoor fun. You will find that the majority of state parks have no problem with dogs on a leash as long as the leash is shorter than six feet. On the other hand, if you are planning an extended trip to a national park, you may find that they are a bit restrictive when it comes to dogs. In most cases, they will limit pet access only to areas that you can reach with a vehicle.
Watch for Breed Restrictions
This is one of the most important things to look into when you are planning to travel with your dog. Did you know that some areas have breed restrictions? This means while it might be ok to move around with your dog where you stay, in some areas, they may not even want it around. This is especially true if your dog falls under what is known as “bully breeds.” This is a broad term that covers canines with blocky heads like the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, American Bulldog, and other Pit Bull mixes. To prevent being inconvenienced, first, check if your destination area doesn’t have breed restrictions that include your dog. Traveling to such areas with your dog can put you at risk, and you may end up needing legal help.
The easiest way to verify whether there are no restrictions against your dog is to search the term “breed restrictions” or “breed specific legislation” together with the area where you are going. That should tell you if your destination is a fit for you and your dog. Apart from state and area restrictions, you must also check on hotel and lodge restrictions. Sadly, some hotels and rental properties might not be dog friendly.
Visit Your Veterinarian
You must never travel with your pet without visiting the veterinarian first. Just like you might want to see medical professionals before you travel, you may also want to go for a veterinary checkup. Most areas have health considerations for pets, so it’s a good idea to learn about the ones that apply to your dog. If you are planning to cross the border with your pet, you will be required to obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. The authorities at the border will not allow you to get into another country without this certificate. Even if the extended trip is not too far from home, you will still need to have a copy of your dog’s health and vaccination records.
Is your dog microchipped? If not, this can be done by your veterinarian in a single visit. This is a quick and easy process. The microchip features a number that can be used to identify your dog should he get lost.
Plan on Flexibility
When you are traveling with your dog, you need to slow down and enjoy the journey. It’s important to keep in mind that you will likely make a lot of stops along the way. This is why you should leave some room for some flexibility in your itinerary. Try not to view the stops you make with your pet as inconveniences but as part of the journey. You can even turn them into something fun. For instance, you can do a roadside photo session in a field of wildflowers. Those can be some of the most memorable moments with your pet. You will be surprised to find out that dogs view these stops like trips to Disneyland. They will get very excited and will want to explore new areas.
Wherever you go, you need to ensure that you take proper safety precautions. You already know that you should buckle your passengers in the car. It’s important to do the same with your pet. Your dog must be safely restrained. While your human seatbelt will not work for your dog, you can still safely buckle the dog’s harness to the seat belts. If you can’t do that, you can restrain the dog in a crate or use a booster seat. That way, your dog will be super safe if you get into an accident or make a sudden stop. Apart from that, you will be less distracted as you drive.
Once you get into the car, you must also make sure that your dog’s head is kept inside. This will reduce the risk of eye injury. However, this doesn’t mean that the windows should be shut all the way. You can just crack the window a bit to allow fresh air into the car. Just make sure the gap isn’t so big to fit your dog’s head.
Traveling with your canine companion can be fun. However, you need to prepare properly. This will reduce the risk of costly inconveniences. You must never plan such trips last minute. Give yourself and your dog enough time to get ready. Take time to look at dog kennels and dog boarding in your destination area if you think there are some events you will attend that might not be dog friendly. Most areas have different pet friendly housing options to choose from.