How was your long weekend? Did you hit the cottage? Visit friends? Go camping? If you did, and brought your four-legged friend along, you’re aware that it takes some planning. So, we thought we would share some tips for stress-free travelling with your pup.
When travelling with your pup, your first big decision will probably be your mode of transportation. In a perfect world, your destination is a quick car ride away. But we all know we don’t live in a perfect world.
So, let’s take a look at some ways you can make the travel part of the trip as easy as a walk in the park!
Make Travelling with Your Pup as Easy as a Walk in the Park
Planes: We recommend avoiding air travel with your dog(s) whenever possible. The experience itself is already stressful – even for calm dogs – and the cargo hold does not make for a pleasant experience.
If you have a large dog that has to fly, make sure you check their seasonal cut-off dates for allowing dogs (and other pets) in the cargo hold, due to extreme heat and/or extreme cold. If you have a small dog? Check your airline in advance for their rules and regulations around taking small breeds on-board with you. In some cases, they may be allowed in the cabin.
Trains: Amtrak allows dogs to travel with their owners – with some restrictions: “…dogs and cats up to 20 pounds for trips up to seven hours on most routes (some restrictions apply*). Our check-in process is simple, making traveling with your four-legged friend easy and enjoyable.” Via Rail also allows small breed dogs to travel in their rail cars with their owners, but has many restrictions regarding size, etc. Of course, the policy does not apply to service and support dogs.
Automobiles: Luckily, many dogs enjoy a car ride. For those who don’t, there are a few ways to address this. First, try positive reinforcement, taking your dog on regular drives with favourite toys or a treat. If that doesn’t help, talk to your vet. It’s possible that your dog is suffering from motion sickness.
Schedule breaks every three to five hours so your pup can stretch their legs and relieve themselves. And in case the worst should occur, have some emergency vet clinics mapped out along the way.
What to Bring, and Where to Stay
Bring a generous amount of day-to-day supplies. Because there’s nothing worse than running out of something half way to your destination!
- A leash and collar (with tags)
- Food and treats
- Lots of water (and a water bowl!)
- A cuddly blanket
- Waste bags
- Favourite toys
- First aid kit
- Life vest (if heading to water)
- Enough medication if required
If embarking on a very long car ride, map out rest-stops and/or overnight accommodations well in advance. Not all hotels or inns will welcome your dog the same way they welcome you.
But, pet-friendly accommodations are out there. When doing your research, consider options like first-floor rooms for easy late-night elimination, location (is there somewhere for your dog to romp and get some energy out?), and conveniences (you might prefer room service to leaving your dog alone while you grab breakfast).
If you’re lucky, you might even find a place that offers extra amenities for your dog like special beds and dog services.
When Travelling with Your Pup Isn’t the Best Option
Finally, consider whether travelling with your pup is really the only option. Often, the best choice for everyone (your dog included) is to do what’s best for them. Yes, they’ll miss you, and you’ll miss them, but dealing with an upset, unsettled, stressed out pet (especially one you love so much) does not a relaxing vacation make.
Ask a family member or friend if they can take your dog in for the duration of your trip. Or, consider an in-home sitter, or even a reputable breeder’s kennel. Get recommendations from people you trust and do a test-run before your trip to get your dog used to the sitter or the kennel environment.
It might cost you a few extra dollars, but you’ll come home refreshed and relaxed, to a happy, healthy dog just thrilled to see you.
Whichever route you take, good luck and safe travels!