1. Visit the Vet Before You Go
Before you think about heading out together, take your pup to the vet to ensure he’s up to date with vaccines and healthy enough to travel. Ask your vet for anything your dog might need in order to have a safe and healthy trip.
2. Pack Up
When you’ve finished packing up your suitcase, don’t forget to pack Fido’s as well. Make sure you have plenty of his regular food, any medications, and bottled water for the trip. Bring your dog’s license and health papers along.
3. Choose a Crate
A crate is an excellent choice for many kinds of travel with your dog and is required for air travel. Make sure the crate you choose has plenty of room for your dog to stand up, turn around, and get cozy. It should be sturdy, leak-proof, and ventilated. If your dog will be in the cargo hold, be sure the crate is labeled clearly.
4. Do Your Research
Traveling safely with your dog is not a given and requires preparation and research. Data is available for the safety and incident records for each airline, and many have different safety regulations that you must adhere to. Read up on their website, or call customer service to ensure your pet and your carrier will meet their standards and that you are comfortable with their protocols. Make sure to book your pet with the airline properly and pay any fees ahead of time, if possible.
5. Plenty of Potty Breaks
Whenever possible, make sure to stop often, to give your pup a chance to pee and a run-around. Stretching their legs and lapping up some water can be all it takes to keep them quiet and comfortable.
6. Find a Pet-Friendly Lodging (and Book Early!)
Search for hotels and vacation spots that don’t just allow but welcome them! Many hotel chains pride themselves on their dog-friendliness, such as Hilton’s Homewood Suites, which just announced that 100% of its hotels in the U.S. and Canada are now dog friendly. They are even offering free access to Mars Petcare, an online service offering hotel guests the opportunity to chat with an expert about pet-related concerns. Some hotels have a mascot dog, in-room dog accessories, or you could find an Airbnb with a backyard and dog house.
7. Keep the Barking to a Minimum
Be respectful of your fellow travelers by keeping your pup contained and quiet as much as possible. Many people won’t expect to see a dog at an airport or a hotel, and presenting dogs on their best behavior will ensure their ability to travel this way in the future.
8. Head Out on the Highway
Car rides are often a dog’s favorite thing, but give them a chance to get used to the car before taking a long trip. Make sure the vehicle and/or crate is well-ventilated, and avoid carsickness by having your dog travel on an empty stomach when possible. Consider a dog seat belt or dog car seat, and don’t let him stick his head out the window at high speeds, as it can lead to eye injuries. Finally, don’t leave your dog alone in a closed car, especially in the summertime.
9. Dog-Friendly Destinations
When traveling with your dog, it’s important to plan ahead beyond just the travel and lodging. What will you do during the day? Where will you eat? Research parks and trails for your dog to run and activities you can do together. Find a pet-friendly patio at a nearby restaurant, or order in and snuggle up with your pooch instead.
10. Boats, Trains, and Buses
Before you depart, consider the dog policies for every part of your travel. For example, most Amtrak lines only allow dogs less than 25 pounds. Some cruise ships allow dogs, but policies differ. Regardless of your destination, verify that your dog will be welcome and safe wherever you go before you leave home. If not, consider leaving your dog with someone they know and trust that can give them the care they need while you’re gone.