Traveling the World With Man’s Best Friend
If by any chance you own a dog, which you probably do, given that you’re reading this, then you know what a hassle it can be when it’s time for traveling. But things shouldn’t be this way. You can either leave it with some friends or family, or you can place it in a pet hotel for the duration of your travel. But wouldn’t it be more relaxing and fun to bring your pup with you on the trip? You wouldn’t have to worry about what’s happening with your dog while you’re away, and you can also share in the experience, together.
Things usually aren’t like this, however, and a pleasurable trip can easily turn into a struggle if you’re not prepared. With a little bit of thinking ahead, both you and your dog can have a great time and see the world together in the most pleasant way possible. Here are a few things you will need to prepare in advance in order to assure that this will happen.
Even though it might seem counterintuitive at first, crating your dog may be the safest and easiest way to travel. This is not solely for your own convenience, or the convenience of other people that you might encounter along the way, but your dog may thank you for it as well. If your best friend isn’t that used to traveling long distances, having its own space in which to feel safe and comfortable will be a more pleasurable and less stressful experience for everyone.
Now, depending on your own dog’s size and your destination, there is a wide range of crating products available on the market. These can range from portable soft dog crates, and airline approved dog carriers, to dog carriers with wheels – each with its own benefits that you can deduce from their names.
The most important thing you need to remember when it comes to crating your dog for travel is to make sure that it is already accustomed to that crate. It’s no use crate-training your dog on your way to the destination, now, is it? Aquire the crate before you actually go on your trip and leave it around the house for your dog to familiarize itself with. Make sure that by the time you leave for the holidays, your pup thinks of the crate as a “slice of home” you’re taking with you.
The best way to accustom it to the crate, be it a portable soft dog crate, an airplane one, or the model on wheels, is to make it seem like an actual safe zone and not a ‘prison’ of sorts. Don’t shove your pup inside it the moment you bring the crate home for the first time, and instead, open it and allow your dog to get inside on its own. Also, make it feel safe and secure when the door is closed too.
Another great piece of advice here is to exercise your dog the day before you leave. As most of us already know, a well-exercised dog is a tired dog. And a tired dog usually means a sleeping dog.
Neither the car nor the plane was designed with dogs in mind. This is why crating is usually the best means of traveling with these two forms of transportation. When it comes to driving, in particular, having your dog safely inside a crate lowers the risk of you becoming distracted at the wheel. It also means that your dog will not be flung through the car if you have to break unexpectedly.
You also need to remember, if you don’t know already, that dogs are usually prone to motion sickness. This is the main reason why it’s important not to feed your pup too much before you leave (six hours). Likewise, don’t feed it while you’re on the move, either. Wait until you make a stop and do it then. A short break from driving is also a good opportunity to take a walk together for both your benefit.
Flying is, more or less, the same experience as driving, well, for your dog, at least. For you, however, things might be somewhat different. You will first need to ask about the airline’s rules regarding pet travel. Some airlines require health certificates and other paperwork before you can actually take your pup with you on the plane.
You should also ask about the type of airline approved dog carrier, so there won’t be any unexpected surprises. You will, most likely, have to crate your dog during the flight, and it’s advisable to do so even before you go inside the bustling airport.
Like with the car, you shouldn’t feed the dog six hours before the trip. It is also advisable to make a short stop as close to the departure time as possible, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, make sure that they have access to enough water so as to keep them hydrated, but not with a full bladder. If, by any chance, your dog will not be in the main cabin with you, especially if it’s a larger breed, then don’t try and scare it by saying long goodbyes, especially in a sad voice. Your dog may interpret this as something bad and will become anxious.
Dogs can become increasingly anxious during trips. They’re out of their comfort zone and familiar surroundings, which can sometimes even make them unpredictable. In order to get them relaxed, it’s important to have with you something favorite of theirs, like a blanket it likes to sleep in, or a favorite toy, for instance. Traveling in a plane’s cargo hold is never a pleasurable experience, after all.
At the Hotel
Not all hotels accept pets; as if you didn’t know that already. Nevertheless, inquiring about their pet-policy should be done even before you leave the house. Now, even though you are familiar with how hotels work, your dog may not be. They are completely out of their element and may become nervous about the whole situation. It may even begin to bark in your new room or growl at strangers because of it, in which case you shouldn’t encourage it on with affection and reassurances.
What you should do, however, is to go for a walk in the neighborhood the moment you put down the bags in your room. This walk will familiarize your pup with the new location, with the idea of new people around, and will also allow it to release any pent-up energy from the road.
The reason why people travel to foreign places, in the first place, is to experience new sights, smells, sensations, people, and foods, among other things. Well, guess what? Your dog will experience those things too but in a slightly different way.
When traveling with your dog, you will need to pay extra attention to things that your dog may be able to ingest along the way. It’s also advisable to familiarize yourself with what potentially-special laws that country has about dogs and how you are allowed to walk it in public areas.
Here is a list of what you will need to bring with you when you go with your dog on a trip. We’ve mentioned some of them already, but it never hurts to be extra sure, right?
- Carriers – Be it a portable soft dog crate, an airline approved dog carrier or a dog carrier with wheels, they will allow you to transport your dog in relative safety and will also act as a bed during your visit.
- Leash and collar – These should go without saying. In fact, it would be advisable to have spares, just in case they break off. A muzzle is also prudent to have with you at all times, just in case – especially if it’s a medium or large dog.
- Vaccination records – Health certificates may be required with some airlines or hotels. Some countries may also require this documentation, so you will need to check in advance. Also, if there are any health issues that may arise, it’s never a bad idea to have these at hand.
- Meds – A first aid kit is always good to have with you when you travel. When it comes to your pup, its first aid kit should include tweezers to remove ticks, antiseptic moist wipes, scissors, gauze bandages, adhesive tape, eye wash to clean up wounds, and styptic powder for toenail bleeding. There are such dog first aid kits available on the market.
- Food and Water – Now, even though you will not have to provide for the entire trip, it should be remembered that your dog may suffer from an upset stomach if the local food and water aren’t to its taste.
- Toys – Several of your pup’s favorite toys should accompany you on your trip. They will provide some relaxation and comfort.
- Tags – In all the excitement, your dog may get lost. If that happens, make sure that your dog has a tag with your phone number you have with you. Just make sure that you’ve written it down correctly, with all the proper prefixes and all. There is also the option of purchasing a GPS tag.
- Grooming supplies and bags to pick up waste – Do not overdo it with these and focus only on the basics.