Sometimes it just can’t be helped. Your go-to sitter has decided to go on vacation. Maybe your mom and dad have decided to put their collective foot down and tell you, for once in your life, NO! It sucks but you have that trip looming and nobody to look after the dog. Hold on a second. Wait. “It sucks”? Why? Don’t you love your dog? He’s your best friend isn’t he? In that case, why does it suck that you have nobody to look after him while you’re traveling? Why not bring him with you? Think of it this way – imagine the bliss of the open road, the joy of arriving at your destination. Now imagine that bliss doubling because your loyal furry friend is there, sharing it with you. Yeah. That’s right. Traveling with your dog is the right thing to do and you know it. You’re going to have a blast together, even if it’s only a business trip to Cincinnati.
So it’s decided. He’s coming. This is a brand new era for both of you. The question now is how to make this happen in the easiest, less stressful way…
On the road
Yes, we know that your pooch is fine driving across town to the dog park or over to the vet, but a full-on road trip? That takes a little preparation. Before setting off on a big drive, try some medium ones. See how your dog behaves in a car. Does he get carsick, for example? Obviously, he can’t tell you that he’s feeling rough, but his body language can tell you a lot before he starts barfing. Look out for general listlessness, nervousness, yawning, whining and drooling. Any of these signs may indicate that your dog is feeling rough and not enjoying the ride. Just like humans, the best way to relieve motion sickness in dogs is to open the windows, make sure the inside of the car isn’t too hot, and also try to ensure that the dog is facing forwards – special car seats for dogs can ensure this – as opposed to the sides or behind. Also make sure that he has access to water and limit food consumption beforehand. Another great tip is to give your dog something sweet – like a jellybean or a sugar cube just before getting into the car, as this helps with nausea much the same as sucking a boiled sweet does for us.
Outside of making sure your dog doesn’t feel sick while driving long distances in the car, it goes without saying that your dog is traveling WITH you. That means that you don’t get to leave him inside the car while you leave it. That means that you should stop here and there to stretch both his legs and yours. There’s nothing your pet will like better than checking out new scenery whenever you stop, even if it’s just a new post to sniff or tree to check out.
In the air
So you and your dog are flying further afield. This needn’t be arduous with preparation. Airlines have different rules regarding the transportation of pets, so it’s recommended that you look into all the different carriers that fly your route. The regular, human-only approach of taking the cheapest flight possible may very well not apply here. You’re going to need to fly direct, if at all possible. Layovers are not your dog’s friend, especially if they’re larger than a Chihuahua and are traveling as cargo instead of in the fancy seats up top with you.
Book early! Be aware that the airlines have a maximum number of pets that they can take on any given flight. Normally that’s one or two. Never book your ticket and THEN start thinking about your dog. It’s better to book over the phone with the airline rather than online. Speaking to a real person will ensure – hopefully – that your entire party, human and canine, will be able to travel together on the same plane.
Read the small print. Where are you going? When are you traveling? You need to know that some airlines will not fly animals if the departure or arrival destination is too hot or too cold. Research this. Are you taking your dog out of the country? What are the health regulations for him in that country? You’re going to need a full health certificate from your vet to fly him in the first place – the airlines need this – but what does your destination country need to ensure that your dog doesn’t get refused entry or put into quarantine? When you return home, what does YOUR country need to see in order that your pooch can reenter?
In-flight. If you have a dog small enough to come in the cabin with you, he will be in an airline-approved crate that can fit under the seat in front. He will not be allowed out of that crate. Little treats here and there and a sneaky cheek scratch can do wonders to calm him down. Larger dogs in the cargo hold fare worse – his crate will be his home for maybe hours, so ensure that he’s properly crate trained well in advance of travel. Whatever you do, though – DO NOT drug your dog for traveling. Never.
At your destination
It goes without saying that wherever you’re staying is dog friendly, right? You HAVE checked that? Assuming that you have prepared in advance and have checked out and reserved a place to stay that allows dogs, prepare a little more and see whatever doggie things are going on where you’re going to be. Restaurants, dog parks, local laws regarding beach access, and so on. Make sure you know all this, in order to avoid surprises wherever you end up, and you and your dog will have as much fun away as you do at home. Enjoy yourselves!