5 Essential Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

If you’re here, it’s because you and I share something (deep in our hearts); we are travel nerds. We have wanderlust. We’re totally addicted to the nomadic lifestyle (or at least backpacking on the weekends), and there’s nothing we can do about it.

And maybe, if you’re like me, you also have a little furry friend who likes to tag along. I know I do. In fact, I’ve been a hopeless dog lover for as long as I can remember, and my pup has been one of the most loyal traveling compadres over the years (you can read about how I travel with my dog here).

That said, taking your dog on your adventures isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. Over the years, I’ve most or less mastered it, and I wanted to share somee of that knowledge, which will hopefully help some other folks avoid some of the headache that comes along with globetrotting as a human/dog team.

1. Stock up on dog supplies and double-check your inventory.

I can tell you this first hand: there is absolutely nothing worse than being on a trip and not having something you need for your dog. Maybe it’s something simple like a doggy bag, which probably isn’t a huge deal, but what if it’s food? Or what if it’s a doggy first aid kit?

It pays to be organized when you’re packing for your next excursion. Here’s a super-quick rundown of what you need:

  • Food for the entire trip
  • Extra water
  • Food and water containers
  • Leashes and collars
  • A crate with a plastic bottom
  • Current medical and vaccination records
  • A couple extra dog tags
  • Doggy bags
  • A dog-orientated first aid kit that includes hydrogen peroxide and tomato juice
  • A few favorite toys and blankets
  • An extra warm emergency blanket (especially if traveling in the winter)
  • A crate or kennel
  • Grooming supplies

2. Brush up on your crate training.

In my view, crate training is one of the most important skills for your pup to have under her belt is she’s going to be traveling with you–mostly because on most trips, she’ll have to be in her crate at some point.

For example, there are plenty of dog-friendly hotels out there, but most require your dog to be crated if you leave them alone in the room. Or, if your flying, FAA regulations mandate that your dog travel in some kind of carrier, crate or kennel.

For our dog, who is already crate training, that typically just means we spend some time reinforcing all her positive feelings about her crate before we set out. A few days of treats and dog massages can go a really long way toward helping your pup feel safe and happy in her kennel.

3. If you’re not driving, understand the regulations for whatever mode of transportation you’re using.

I had to learn this the hard way and believe me, there’s pretty mus nothing worse than showing up to the airport and finding our your dog can’t fly. And it’s even less fun if you could have avoided the problem by simply reading some rules.

So, whether you’re taking a plane, train or boat, you need to know the rules. Even more importantly, you need to know the rules for the general mode of travel (e.g. federal guidelines for how pets should travel by air) in addition to the guidelines set by individual transportation companies.

In other words, if you’ve got a flight booked with United, you need to understand both the FAA’s rules and United’s rules for having a dog on a flight.

Here are a few resources:

4. If you’re traveling internationally, research how your destination views and treats dogs.

There are so, so many amazingly dog-friendly cities out there. And in most places, you and your dog are going to be perfectly safe.

However, some places have very different attitudes towards dogs, and you’ll need to take some precautions. For example, if you’re traveling to a city that’s not dog-friendly, you’ll need to do a little bit of extra preparation, so you can make arrangements for your dog to stay somewhere while you trek around.

Or, you might be heading to a place that’s not as safe as others (e.g. Venice is notoriously dangerous for dogs, since they can eaisly fall in the water).

And at the most extreme, some places are actually violent towards dogs. For instance, during China’s Yulin dog festival, dogs are captured, killed and eaten.

So, if you’re planning to take your pup abroad, spend a few minutes to read about the cultural attitude toward dogs wherever you happen to be going.

5. Don’t be afraid to leave your dog at home.

Listen, I know it can be a total bummer to leave your best furry friend at home. No one wants to do it. But sometimes, traveling can be more harmful than fun. So, if you’re dog isn’t well-adjusted, struggles with aggression, is prone to accidents, has health problems, or is an anxious pup, it’s a good idea to take a step back and seriously consider whether or not she’s actually enjoy traveling.

Some dogs just don’t do well on the road, and others are absolutely terrified on noisy, bumpy plane rides. If traveling with more stressful than fun for you or your pup, don’t feel bad about leaving him at home.

The most important things about traveling with your dog are (1) to be safe and (2) have fun–in that order. Hopefully these tips help, but if you have others, shout them out in the comments! 

For more resources, click here!