Traveling with Dogs: How to Bring Your Pooch on Your Next Vacation

Statistics show that something around 36% of all households in the United States are home to a dog. In many of these homes, the dog is more than just a pet—it’s a member of the family. As a result, traveling with dogs is becoming more and more common; in fact, about half of all pet owners report bringing along their beloved dogs when they go on vacation. While it’s certainly true there are no limits to the number of cities to consider for your next trip, if you want to make sure you’re not only planning a great trip but a great trip that includes your dog, you’ll need to consider a few additional key factors regarding how to travel with a dog. Here are several helpful tips for traveling with a dog.

Consider Your Dog’s Personality

One of the first things you should do about when considering how to travel with a dog is take some time to think about your dog’s personality. You’ll want to ask yourself questions like: What makes your dog nervous? Is it difficult for your dog to adapt to new environments? How well does your dog get along with strangers? Do unfamiliar dogs upset your dog? How much maintenance will your dog require each day while you’re traveling? These thought-exercises should be done with an eye toward determining what sorts of destinations would best suit your dog’s travel needs and helping you understand what types of preparations will be required to make a dog-inclusive trip work for your family.

Pick a Dog-Friendly Destination

Before you and your family go anywhere with your dog, you’ll need to know if your desired destination is suitable for dogs in the first place. Certain communities are very open to accommodating dogs and their owners, and you’ll have no difficulty getting a tourist citypass that’ll provide you with access to plenty of tourist attractions perfect for both you and your dog. Other places, though, may be less accepting of the presence of your dog, no matter how terrific you think he or she is. As a result, while you go about planning your trip, you’ll want to do some specific research into your destination’s local policies regarding dogs. You’ll need to learn about things like local leash laws, where dogs are and aren’t permitted, and the extent of any other pet regulations that might exist in the area.

Research Transport and Accommodations

Different companies tend to have different policies regarding dogs, and some companies are more dog-friendly than others. As you sit down and plan your vacation around traveling with dogs, make certain to check the company policy regarding pets for any airline, hotel, car-rental service, or other business you might be interested in using. If you’re serious about including your dog in your family’s getaway, make sure to take the time to do your homework and learn where your dog will and won’t be welcome ahead of time. The worst thing in the world would be to plan a trip, bring along your dog, and arrive somewhere along the journey only to discover that your pet is not permitted on the premises.

Visit the Vet

Of all the tips for traveling with a dog out there, one of the most overlooked suggestions tends to be have your dog visit the veterinarian before going on a big trip. It never hurts to get your pet checked before traveling—and this is particularly true if you’re planning to take your dog on a long, extended journey or if your dog has a history of health problems. You’ll also want to check your airline’s rules and regulations ahead of time, as certain airlines actually require your dog be in possession of an up-to-date bill of health as certified by a vet before being allowed to fly.

Prepare Your Dog

The experience of travel anxiety isn’t just limited to people; dogs can find traveling very stressful, too. Fortunately, there are several things you can do as a pet owner to prepare your dog to travel—many of which are particularly useful if you’re intending to travel via plane. These tips include such tactics as packing their favorite playthings or toys, making certain they’re familiar with their travel carrier (in advance of the trip), and stocking up on extra snacks and food (to have in hand in the event of unforeseen delays/problems).

Find Dog-Friendly Activities

If you’re committed to traveling with dogs, then throughout your vacation you’ll need to be willing to balance your needs and wants with the needs and wants of your dogs. This will likely mean picking an assortment of outings and events that are suitable for both you and your dog(s), as well as searching for attractions that are dog-friendly. In certain places, it’s possible to purchase a tourism card that lets you customize your experience by selecting only attractions that you can take your dog to. You’ll also want to plan to build into your trip a variety of activities that will not only benefit your dog, but help you stay active and healthy on your trip.