15 Dog-Friendly Travel Tips

Important tips for traveling with your pooch

1. If you’re flying with your dog, be sure he is securely in his carrier before you enter the terminal. This keeps him safe in case you’re distracted while checking in. Pick a crate that is both comfortable and big if you plan to travel for long hours.

2. Don’t feed your dog or give him lots of water to drink before the flight. I myself like to let my dog  fast a little, control the water intake a little and definitely let him relieve himself one more time before going in the terminal.

3. If your dog is flying in the cabin with you, be sure to ask your neighbors if they mind before you take him out of his crate.

4. However, warned that removing your dog from his crate can be dangerous during a flight. Think very carefully before you do this and make sure the flight attendant is aware and has given you permission.

5. If your dog is frightened, rubbing lavender oil on your hands may help calm him.

6. Trying a deep-tissue massage to calm a nervous dog. Start with his spine. The pelvis of the dog normally carries the tension, as does [the area] behind the cranium. Just make sure that you yourself are calm and centered first. You should never try to help your dog when you feel bad about how he is feeling.

7. When you travel to other settings with your dog, be aware that there may be distractions he isn’t used to at home, such as deer and other wildlife. People could also be throwing food on the floor that you may not see at first glance, but your dog will smell and try to eat, so make sure you always keep an eye on the environment.

8. Never leave your dog alone in a parked car for an extended period, even in the wintertime. Be sure to leave a window cracked open for fresh air.

9. On a road trip, stop every few hours to let your dog relieve himself and to play with him. However, there is no reason to feed him at this point. Motion sickness for dogs is very different than for humans, and this means that he would rather wait until you’re not moving anymore to be fed. If it has been a long trip, you can give little pieces of chicken or mini snacks, but space them out. He should get protein to be satisfied, but not a whole plate that will make him sick.

10. If your dog does his business while you’re checking in at the hotel’s front desk, there’s no need for embarrassment. “People understand it is a dog. Let him finish, don’t interrupt; then ask the staff for cleaning things and apologize by cleaning up.”

11. If your dog growls at strangers in a new environment, he’s nervous, not aggressive. “It’s nothing for you to be concerned about. When a dog growls, it is just communication, not the beginning of an attack.” I suggest distracting your dog with a bit of food, or standing still and waiting for the strangers to move away. “If you back away, it confirms his fear. Don’t nurture the behavior by saying, ‘It’s okay,’ and petting him. Just stay quiet and relaxed, let him feel your calmness and he will understand that is how he should react. Once you have defused the situation with the dog, you can apologize to the human.”

12. Should your dog start barking or howling in your hotel room, I am probably nervous about my new environment and trying to communicate this. I advise do not reward the behavior by giving him affection or sympathy. “Use your calm, assertive leadership to show that you have the situation under control. If it is not nervous, but nuisance barking and howling, the problem may be a lack of exercise. Take your dog out for a good, long walk to drain his energy.”

13. An unexercised dog should not be brought to a holiday fair or other open-air activity where he’ll be around crowds of people. I suggest you take your dog for a long walk before such an event, and to be sure beforehand that your dog is well socialized.

14. All of these tips apply to toy breeds as well. “It is important to remember that just because a dog is small, it doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous if it is not well socialized.”

15. Last, but most certainly not least: Always bring poop bags with you whenever you leave home with your dog.

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