(Or how to survive traveling with your dog!)

Traveling with your dog can be great fun and a way to build on your relationship. Some dogs LOVE to travel and go on rides. However, others would rather stay home and not be bothered.

Well, I’m happy to say with patience and an open mind in trying different ways to travel with your dog, it can help reduce any stress you and your dog, you might have.  My experience with my own dog, who is not a fan of car trips, has given me the tools to help me plan ahead and taught me great deal about traveling with dogs.

How to plan for a stress-free experience

Successful planning is key to traveling with your dog and the first thing you want to do is evaluate if it really is a good idea to take your pet on the trip. Are you visiting folks who will welcome your ‘well-behaved’ pet? Are there other pets at your destination that will be okay with pet guests? How long will your dog need to be confined during the trip? Have you checked for ‘pet-friendly’ lodging along the way? Would it be better for all concerned to leave you dog in the care of a qualified pet-sitter or boarding facility? Is your dog healthy enough for travel and are there any special dietary or medical needs to be taken into account.

After you have reviewed the questions and you have made the decision you and your dog are heading out, here is a list of items that you will probably want to take with you.

A sturdy smooth edged carrier/kennel

with a grill-style door and a secure latch with plenty of ventilation holes on each side. Be sure it is big enough for your dog to sit and lie down in, but not so big that he will get bounced around if the road gets rough (or you are traveling by air). The carrier may have food and water dishes if you like and should have a cozy lining (towel, shredded newspaper, crate pad etc.). Use the crate ONLY if he is already crate-trained. A long trip is not the time to introduce your dog to a carrier.

I.D. and contact information

should also be with you. Your dog should already be microchipped, and have a collar with his I.D tags; rabies tag etc. and you phone number. Also carry a current photo (on your phone as well as in your wallet) for easy identification in case he gets away.

Stop along the way

Be sure that you and your dog can stretch your legs, allow him to potty and maybe have a small drink of water. You may wish to wait to feed him until you have reached the day’s destination.

Watch for any signs of stress or discomfort. If your dog has a history of difficulty perhaps your vet can help with a mild sedative. I found Rescue Remedy (a homeopathic remedy) works well for some dogs and also a TTouch technique that incorporates light ear stroking and small gentle fingertip circles on the ear can also help.

Be informed as far as temperature changes, keeping the inside of the car at a comfortable temperature (turn on the heat? Turn on the A/C?). And never leave your dog unattended for long periods of time with temperatures dropping or the thermometer soaring.

Hopefully, this will start you thinking about the pros and cons of pet travel. For me, my travels with Tess are short, and if that’s not possible she stays with friends who have dogs and cats, plenty of room to run and play and who enjoy her company.

Remember, careful planning makes for a good trip!  Happy Travels!