We love taking our dogs with us everywhere we go. They are part of our family. We take the dogs with when we travel for holidays, go camping, or plan to spend any extended time away from home.
Whether you are traveling for the day, the weekend or the entire week, bringing your dog along has so many benefits. You won’t have to leave him home alone all day or put him in a boarding facility.
Plus, your dog will feel more comfortable being with his family and you will have the joy and comfort of your dog by your side.
We took our dogs, Bear and Ginger, with us on a canoe trip on the Kickapoo River. They had a blast and certainly made our trip exciting. Bear tipped over the canoe trying to climb in and Ginger insisted on swimming the entire river (watch her in the video below).
Obviously, there are cases that taking your dog with you is not reasonable, so in those times, find a trusted family member, friend or boarding facility to take good care of your dog.
A dog that is well exercised, mentally and physically, will be more likely to be calm during the travel time. If your dog is full of energy and bouncing off the walls before you leave, how do you think he’s going to be in the car?
Your goal is a tired and calm dog before you walk out the door. So exercise your dog the day before and the day of your travels. A tired dog creates a peaceful quiet ride for everyone.
Want to know what to bring when traveling with dogs? Just as you pack for yourself, you need to pack for your dog. And you know you always forget something, right? So use our traveling checklist to help you remember everything your dog will need.
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How much you’ll need to pack will depend on the destination and length of your travel. But the basics will always be the same, food, water, collar, leash, and don’t forget the poop bags.
Here is your dog traveling checklist:
Although there are travel-sized bowls and supplies available, I recommend, whenever possible, pack items the dog is accustom to using on a regular basis. This will help your dog feel more comfortable while away from home. If you want to purchase travel-sized items, use them at home for a week or two before you leave.
Dogs can easily get spooked when in unfamiliar places, and if your dog decides to run off while you are away from home, a GPS tracker can help you find him immediately.
Even if your dog is microchipped, a GPS can be very useful when traveling. A microchip, which is inserted into the dog’s skin, is great if he gets lost and is turned into a vet or shelter. But can’t help you locate him on the run like a GPS tracker can.
Traveling with dogs in the car shouldn’t be stressful for you or the dog! Take your dog for short car rides on a regular basis before heading out for a long trip. Observe how well your dog does in the car. Does he get car sick, does he jump in your lap while driving, or does he calmly lay in the back seat? Your dog needs to learn car riding manners before you plan a long trip with him.
We travel with our two large dogs in the dog car all the time. They take up the entire back of my SUV! If you have a small dog, you may want to consider a travel crate to ensure his safety. You can read about our recommended crates at Best Dog Crates.
Plan on making several pit stops to let your dog go potty. There are usually rest stops with pet areas on major expressways. Please be sure to clean up after your dog.
Never leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle. Even 5 minutes in mild weather temperatures, your car can be a death chamber. If you need to run into a store or something, have a family member stay with the dog. This would be an ideal time to let the dog out to stretch his legs too, just remember to keep him on a leash.
I personally have never traveled with my dogs on an airplane… heck, I rarely travel by plane myself. As a family of five, it’s just too expensive.
So I will refer you to this post from Smart Travel, Flying with a Dog? Here’s What You Need to Know.
If you are taking your dog on an airplane or extra long car ride, you may want to consider a prescription calming medication. Talk to your vet.
You may also want to try a calming collar, such as Comfort Zone Adaptil Collars. Don’t wait until you are ready to hop in the car, put the collar on your dog several days to a week before leaving.
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Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.