Many people don't feel like a family vacation is complete without their four-legged family members. With this in mind, more and more people are traveling with their dogs. It is now easier than ever to do this, but there are some things to keep in mind when you decide to hit the road with your canine companion.
- Make sure your dog is wearing identification at all times. Ensuring that your dog is wearing an identification tag with your contact information is vital. In addition to your address and home phone number, having a cell number with area code on the tag is also a good idea. This way you can be contacted no matter where you're traveling. If your dog becomes lost on your trip, you'll be happy you took this precaution. You may also want to carry an extra picture of your pet with you for the same reason.
If traveling by car, don't wait until the day of your trip to acclimate your dog to riding in the car. Very often the only time dogs are in the car is to ride to the veterinarian. This can make your dog fearful of car rides. Some dogs also experience car sickness. This is not something you want to discover for the first time during a long car ride. Start by taking your dog for car rides well in advance of your trip. Make these trial trips as positive as possible by doing things like picking up a hamburger at the drive-thru or taking your dog to a local dog park to play. If your dog has a problem with car sickness, check with your vet. He may recommend or prescribe something to settle your pet's stomach.
If traveling by air, call the airline ahead of time to find out about their rules and regulations regarding traveling with a dog. Different airlines may have different rules about the type of kennels required for travel, extra security measures, and documentation you need to travel with a dog.
Don't leave your dog alone in the car for extended periods, especially in extreme temperatures. A dog left in a car can overheat very quickly, even on days that aren't extremely hot. Cold weather can also be a big problem for your dog.
Be sure that your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations. It's important that your dog have a rabies vaccination when traveling between states. You may also want to get him a Bordetella vaccination. This prevents kennel cough. It's especially important if your dog is going to be kenneled with other dogs during the trip. As an extra precaution, you may want to travel with a copy of your dog's medical history in case you require proof of vaccinations or other pertinent medical information. Up to date vaccinations are especially important if your dog will be spending a lot of time outside, for instance if you take your dog camping.
If staying at a hotel, call ahead to find out about the pet policies. Although more and more hotels and other lodgings are allowing pets, not all of them have the same policies. Some have strict rules about keeping your pet with you at all times. Others have special amenities just for your pet. It's good to know before you arrive if there are any special rules that you'll need to follow with your dog.
Bring a crate. Even though your dog is coming along for your trip, there may still be times you need to leave him behind in the room as he will not necessarily be welcome everywhere you want to go. Even dogs who are well-mannered when left home alone may get anxious when left alone in a strange place. The crate can help head off destructive behavior, as well as housebreaking accidents. If your dog isn't already accustomed to a crate, work on crate training long before you leave for your trip.
Pack extra food and water. Your dog may already be a bit queasy from the trip and the anxiety of being in unfamiliar surroundings. Having to feed him new food because the local store doesn't carry his brand is only going to add to the problem. Extra water is a good idea as well, especially if you find yourself faced with an emergency like being stuck on the side of the road due to car trouble.
Bring along your dog's bed and some of his favorite toys. Your dog will be more comfortable in new surroundings if he has some of his favorite things along.
It can certainly be an adventure when you decide to travel with your dog. However, with a little preparation and forethought, the trip you take with your dog can be one of your best vacations yet.