traveling long distance with your dog how to

How to travel long distance with your dog Safety tips and Checklist

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How to travel long distance with your dog

Traveling long distance with your dog can be a thrilling experience or it can be a nightmare. It all depends on your organizational abilities, flexibility, and sense of humor.

Many dog owners have romantic notions about bringing their dog on vacation, but reality is sometimes more complicated. Your mobility and spontaneity are limited when you travel with your dog, but at the same time you are open to experiences that you would never know if it were not for your dog.

Not all modes of transportation welcome dogs with open arms. There are a few cruise ships that allow you to travel with your dog. Small dogs are even allowed to travel in the kennel on some transatlantic cruises.

Before booking a cruise, ask about the cruise line’s pet policy as well as the policies of the countries you are visiting. Trains and private buses in the U.S do not allow dogs except those covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act such as guide and service dogs. But travel by car or plane can be more friendly.

To keep your dog safe on trips, follow a few basic safety precautions.

Keep a collar and up-to-date ID on your dog at all times. If you plan to be in on location for an extended period, affix a temporary ID to his collar. You never know when an escape may happen. Well-behaved dogs can act unpredictably when traveling; the stress and excitement can affect their behavior. Even if your dog comes reliably when called, keep him on a leash or in his carrier at all times. The traffic, people, and noise at rest stops and airports can spook even the most serene dog.

Traveling by car will also allow you to seek out off-the-beaten-path attractions, which may be more welcoming to dogs. Public beaches and parks, quaint villages, and other rural destinations can add a new dimensions to your travels.

Traveling with your Dog By Car

Traveling by car is probably the easiest way to go when you decide to take your dog along. It’s a flexible and private for you and your dog. You get to decide where you want your pup to sleep and how you want to accommodate him. Another benefit is that once you reach your destination, you won’t need to worry about in-town transportation. Depending on the city, the laws for dogs on buses and in taxis differ; some restrict dogs to certain times of day or do not allow them at all.

Never leave them in the car alone

If the weather is the least bit hot, do not leave your dog in the car. Even if it’s cool outside, be sure to leave the windows cracked so that he gets air. And only leave him if you can keep an eye on the car to ensure the he isn’t stolen. 

Using a doggy seat belt

There are dog car seats available from pet supply stores and online. One kind is a seat for small dogs that harness them in but allows them to see out the window. Another kind is a larger harness for large dogs. Most dog seat belts are a better than none at all. They keep your dog from walking around which could cause a distraction to the driver. On impact, chances are they could prevent your dog from being thrown from the car and severely injured.

Travel dog crates

Crates require your pup to be separated from you during the trip, which might change the experience, but it does allow your dog a cozy, safe space of his own. The crate can also be used when you reach your destination so your dog can be left alone in a hotel room. A crate can take up a fair amount of space, so if you’re in tight quarters and won’t need to keep your dog in a crate at your destination, then a seat belt is probably the best way to go.

Riding in the back of the truck

Never let your dog ride in the back of a pickup truck. If the driver has to suddenly brake or turn, the dog is certain to get thrown out and injured or killed. Flying debris could severely injure your dogs eyes, ears or body while riding in the back. The hot sun could burn his paws on the hot truck bed also. 

If you have no room in the cab or have no back seat, leave your dog at home. Some dog owners do leash their dogs to the truck but in an event of an accident, the dog would surely be serious. If you absolutely feel the need to transport your dog in the bed of your truck, buy a canopy to roof it or a crate to hold your dog. 

Riding with the windows down

Never drive with the windows open far enough that your dog could fall or jump out. Many well-behaved and trusted dogs have been known to unexpectedly jump out of a stopped car window and get hit by traffic. Allow no more than 6 inches of open window while traveling with your dog in a vehicle. 

Rest stop dangers

Rest stops are opportunities for danger when traveling with your dog by car. If your dog runs away at a rest stop, you’re almost guaranteed a tragedy. Not only is there an easily accessible ramp onto the freeway, but you’re in the middle of unknown territory with no recognizable landmarks for your dog.

So instead of playing frisbee when you stop for a break, take your dog for a walk around the parking lot and allow him to relieve himself. Five minutes of leg stretching is probably fine. Because many dogs won’t drink water or eat when in a moving vehicle, a break is a good time to offer a drink and a small snack.

Frequently used potty areas

Avoid small-pet potty areas where there is fresh excitement. Dog feces carry a lot of diseases and these areas can be dangerous to your dog, especially if he is young, elderly or immunocompromised in some way. Do be sure to clean up after your dog and carry plastic bags with you for this purpose.

Oil spills and antifreeze

Cars themselves can excrete substances dangerous to your dog in and out of the car, keep him close and do not allow him to sniff or lick any car drippings, from your car or others. Never keep extra antifreeze inside the compartment of your car.

Car travel tips

A watertight bowl, food, and snacks for your pup.

Avoid changing your dog’s diet on the road; a quick change can cause diarrhea and can.

Bring along a couple security toys, a ball or frisbee will make visits to securely fenced parks and backyards more fun.

Bring your dog’s bed or a comfy blanket that smells of home. You can use it if you stay overnight at a friends house or in a hotel. It will help keep your dog feeling secure and cozy.

Always cover guest or hotel beds with a sheet or blanket if you allow your dog to sleep with you.

If your dog is predisposed to barking, accidents, or separation anxiety, do not leave him alone in a hotel room. If you do leave your dog in the room, provide him with a crate or x-pen to keep him out of trouble.

If a hotel has a good experience with your dog, its future acceptance of dogs will reflect this. Be a good ambassador and be conscientious of hotel owners and your fellow travelers.

Wash and groom your dog

There are a number of things you can do to make car travel with your dog more pleasant. Before leaving on your trip, have him professionally washed and groomed. Both of you will be more comfortable with less shed hair covering the seats and dander in the air.

This also keeps doggy smells to a minimum. Use slipcovers over the seat your dog is sitting on. That Way, you can give the cover a quick wash when you arrive at your destination and you won’t be embarrassed to have guests in the backseat. And it will be nice and fresh for the trip home.

Car Travel Checklist

  • Up-to-date identification tags - Include your cell phone number
  • Food, fresh water, and sturdy bowls for both
  • A strong leash
  • A few of your dog's favorite toys
  • Bedding that can be used in your car and hotel room
  • Basic grooming supplies
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Doggy seat belt or a crate
  • A current photograph of your dog incase he gets lost
  • Proof of vaccinations and copies of other medical records
  • Dramamine for carsickness; check with your veterinarian first

Traveling with your dog by Airplane

Many people are flying with their dogs nowadays. If your dog is small enough for his crate to fit under the seat in front of you, he can even travel in the cabin. Larger dogs must travel in the baggage compartment, which although pressurized, may not be temperature-controlled or ventilated.

Traveling in the cargo area

Although the vast majority of dogs who travel in cargo arrive unscathed, many dog owners feel that is it too much of a risk. Thousands of animals transported as cargo are killed, injured, or lost each year when traveling by airplane. Dogs in cargo are put at risk because of the possibility of very hot or cold temperatures; suffocation; being dropped; or their crates being damaged, allowing them to escape.

There are several airlines currently exploring the possibility of in-cabin pet kenneling areas, but none exist at this time.

Weather can prevent your dog from flying

Many commercial airlines are no longer fly animals in very hot or cold weather. Some airlines place a moratorium on shipping animals during summer or winter, others have stopped shipping dogs as cargo altogether.

Check with the airline before buying your ticket

Before flying, talk to your airline about potential issues in transporting your pet. If you are uncomfortable with the airline’s answer, you may wish to postpone a trip until another time of year or use another mode of transportation.

Airplane Safety Concerns

There are safety concerns for all dogs traveling by airplane, whether in the cabin or as cargo. Pay close attention to the cautions listed below, but also be careful when bringin your dog in and out of the airport. If there’s no other option for your travel plans than putting your dog in cargo, there are ways to minimize risk:
  • Use a recognized air-shipping service.
  • Use a USDA-approved crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in.
  • Freeze water in a bowl that is attached to the inside of the metal mesh at the front of the crate. It will prevent spillage when the crate is being loaded but be melted by the time your dog is thirsty.
  • Tape a cloth bag with one meal’s worth of kibble to the front of the crate in case there is an unexpected delay.
  • Never lock the crate. Close it securely so air line staff can open it in case of an emergency.
  • Affix live Animal stickers to each side of the crate.
  • Pen arrows on the sides indicating which side is up. This may seem unnecessary but when the airline is being loaded, everything looks like baggage to the workers.
  • Never tranquilize your dog; it may cause breathing problems.
  • Line the bottom of the crate with a cozy towel or blanket to soak up any accidents and to keep your dog comfortable.
  • Provide one chewy or fuzzy toy that has no sharp edges or rips.
  • Write your dog’s name on the front of the crate so the staff can call your dog by his name.
  • Affix the address and phone number of your destination to the crate.
  • The ASPCA recommends adhering a photo of your dog to the crate in case he is separated from it. Carry an extra photo of your dog with you on the airplane.
  • Tell anyone and everyone that your dog is on the plane: ticket and boarding agents, pilots, and stewards.
  • Wait to board the plane until you see your dog being boarded and the cargo hatch closed.
  • Always book a direct flight.
  • During warm weather, travel in the evening or early morning.

Airplane Travel Tips

When any dog travels by airline, there are a few requirements. Contact your airline and ask about any rules or requirements before buying your ticket.

Keep in mind that not all airlines fly dogs, and those that do will probably charge for a dog traveling in cargo and may charge for a dog traveling in the cabin as well. Some airlines limit the number of dogs on a particular flight, so book your flight early.

Airlines require each dog to have a travel certificate from a vet, so make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.

Have a travel certificate filled out by your vet no more than 10 days before the trip. If your trip will last longer than 10 days, make sure that you ask your airline whether you will need another health certificate for your return flight.

Have your dogs relieve himself before putting him into his carrier. At the airport, try to find a grassy spot for last minute needs. Always pack a snack or two, water, a watertight bowl, and a favorite soft or chewy toy for nourishment as well as comfort before and after the flight. 

TSA-approved traveling dog crate

This TSA approved Petmate Sky Kennel is very highly rated and reviewed on Amazon. It Can fit up to a 40 pound dog and has a convenient handle on top for the baggage handlers. 

This crate does require you to purchase extra nuts and bolts in order to meet the TSA regulations.

Check your airlines recommendations and regulations before purchasing a airline safe dog crate. 


Lodging While Traveling With Your Dog

Before departing on your journey ensure your pup is flea free. If your dog has aggression issues or acts uncontrollably do not take them to a hotel or motel. Any bad behavior in an establishment will be held against other dogs. If you have no other option, notify the establishment of your dogs uncontrollable behavior and see if you can get a room isolated from the other guests.

Stay Off The Furniture

Try not to allow your dog on the bed or furniture in a hotel. If your dog can’t stand to sleep away from you or insists on being on the couch, bring a sheet or blanket from home to cover the area where he will lie.

Make Sure They Are Housetrained

Make sure your dog is housetrained before bringing him inside. Even if your dog has been reliable and has not had an accident in years, staying in a hotel is a new and sometimes unsettling experience, which can lead to accidents. Many dogs are reluctant to drink water or relieve themselves during a car trip or outside an airport, but once they arrive at a destination and relax, they cut loose. Take your dog for a couple of walks upon arrival and before settling down for the evening.

Use A Crate While You're Away

If you plan to leave your dog in the hotel while you are out, bring a crate. This will keep him safe and secure, eliminate the chance of him inflicting damage, and allow the housekeeping staff to come in while you’re gone.

If you don’t use a crate, find a hotel that offers a dog-sitting service. This is unusual but not unheard of, especially in large cities such as New York or San Francisco.

Some hotels pride themselves on being pet-friendly and even offer pet packages with everything from keepsake food bowls to dog treat cookbooks to daily walks.

Choosing A Hotel

Although assistance dogs, covered by the ADA, are legally entitled to stay in any hotel in the country, many lodging establishments are also reaching out to dog owners. It depends on the region of the country, but in some areas there are now many establishments available to a person traveling with their dog.

Have a Back-Up Hotel

Do your research on the hotel or motel before showing up with your dog. Just because they have a pets welcome sign does not mean you will be happy with the accommodations. Many hotels set aside rooms for customers with pets. Sometimes this works out well, other times it guarantees you the worst room in the hotel. Have a back up plan hotel in case the one you choose does not meet your needs.

Paying extra for your dog

Most hotels either require a pet deposit or have a special room rate, usually $25 to $50 above the normal rate. Although some hotels welcome dogs of all sizes and shapes, many have restrictions on size, only accepting dogs 20 pounds or less. Be sure you’re clear on the policy before booking a room.

Eating Out While Traveling With Your Dog

Eating out can be a fun thing to do with your dog. That is, if you keep your expectations low, pack a warm coat, or travel in summer. Unless you have an assistance dog, your dog will not be allowed inside any restaurant. It’s against health violations in almost every city in the U.S. Some taverns that do not serve food allow digs inside, but it’s rare and generally limited to a few regular hours.

Finding The Right Restaurant

In most cases, eating out with your dog means finding a restaurant that has an outdoor patio and is pet friendly. There are good guides for most cities and regions, which you can consult. If you haven’t planned ahead, the motel concierge should be able to recommend a couple of places.

Call around to find dog friendly restaurants

You can also call a local animal shelter, which may have lists of pet-friendly destinations, or contact local pet shops. Upscale pet boutiques and pet bakeries are some other options to ask advice for pet-friendly restaurants. 

For the most part, dog-friendly restaurants are casual, although, especially in water front areas, you may be able to convince some restaurants with outdoor patios to welcome your dog on uncrowded days.

Call around to find dog friendly restaurants

It’s always a good idea to travel with your dog during off peak times. Hotels, restaurants, cabs, and everyone else who makes their living off of tourists tend to be more accommodating when they aren’t busy.

If you bring your dog to a restaurant, he must be under your control at all times and must be completely dog and people friendly.

Bad Dogs Not Welcome

Aggressive behavior such as snarling, growling, or snapping will not be tolerated and will cause for a unpleasant experience for other guests. A dog who jumps up on people, relieves himself on the restaurant grounds, or snatches food is equally unacceptable. Dogs who aren’t under complete control or completely trustworthy around other people and animals have no place at a restaurant.

Eating At the Restaurant

When waiting for your table, ask your dog to sit nicely so that other patrons do not become uncomfortable. Once at your table, your dog should be in a down-stay position under the table throughout the meal. It’s no problem if other patrons or staff members ask to pet your dog. Just request that they squat next to him rather than have him stand up.

If you’re dog can’t control his excitement when petted, ask if they’ll wait until you take him to a potty break. The less bother your dog makes, the more accommodating a restaurant will be the next time some requests to bring a dog. Many restaurants will supply your dog with a water bowl and perhaps even a treat. Don’t expect this though. Bring a supply of snacks and a water bottle was well as a watertight bowl.

top 10 dog friendly cities in 2018 for traveling with your dog

Dog Friendly Cities

  1. Monterey, California
  2. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  3. Chicago, Illinois, 
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Key West, Florida
  6. Lake Tahoe, California
  7. Toronto, Canada
  8. New York, New York
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. San Francisco, CA