Travel Tips to Keep Your Dog Happy

Traveling with your dog is much more fun than traveling with most cats.

Having had the unique experience of traveling in a car for 5 hours with 3 howling cats, I can honestly say traveling with your cat (cats) is not very much fun.

I love our cats, but I’d go across the country with a dog, any day of the week.


Dogs are social animals and love being with their “folks.” Most dogs enjoy other people and enjoy being around other dogs.

That is, if as a puppy, you spent the time socializing the puppy. A young puppy needs to experience people and new surroundings in order to be “well rounded.”

Here are some travel tips to keep your dog happy and safe, if you are planning on taking your dog on a trip.

Taking your dog on a vacation can be fun, but you have to plan and you have to consider what you want to do on your vacation.

If taking in historic sights, visiting amusement parks or lying around a swimming pool and reading all day is your idea of a vacation. Leave the dog home.

However, if hiking, camping or visiting your family that loves dogs is on the agenda, take the dog along.

If a leisurely trip around your state or through several states sounds like fun and you plan to stop along the way to see the sights that nature has provided, that too, is a vacation your dog might enjoy.

Whatever you decide to do it takes planning.

If you are driving and planning on staying in a motel, reservations have to be made making certain, animals are acceptable.

If you are camping, check with the campsite people to see if dogs are allowed.

If you are planning on doing some serious hiking, be certain your dog is in fit condition to hike with you.

An overweight dog, one that is up in years or a very young puppy are not candidates for serious hiking expeditions.

The best idea is to check with your vet and get his/her advice, if you are planning on some serious outdoor activity.

Did you know that there are camps that you can go to with your dog that have activities you both can participate in?

Some offer training classes, some are for particular breeds, and some are just for Mom, Dad and Dog to have fun.

I will post the web site for you to check into at the end of this article along with 2 other web sites that will help you find interesting pet friendly places to stay and play and some that will save you money on your lodging.

Now that we have decided that “Fido” is going along on your vacation, let’s start planning what you need to take along with you. If you have never had children, you might find this list overwhelming, but if you have been a parent, this will remind you of “baby days.”

The safest way for your dog to travel is in its “crate,” a dog car seat (if it is a small dog,) a harness fastened to the back seat belt or if you have a van, a barrier to separate the dog from you while on the road.

Do not let your dog ride in the front seat or be loose in the car, not only for the safety of you both, but also as an accident preventative.

A loose animal in a car is like traveling with a loose cannon.

If you are thinking your dog’s crate is too big for the car, there are soft-sided collapsible ones available in the market place.

Do not eliminate a crate from your list of things to take along, as you will find it a valuable asset during the trip. If you have not “crate” trained your dog, now is a good time (before the trip) to get the dog used to a crate. Consider it a “doggy den,” your dog’s home away from home.

If you have not used a crate before, get it well in advance of your trip.

Start putting treats in it for your dog to get, then start feeding him/her in it and along the way make a comfy bed in it for him/her to rest on.

You will find that a crate is almost as good as “sliced bread” when it comes to traveling with your pet.

A crate gives you a secure place to put your pet when you decide to go out to dinner and you are staying in a motel. If your dog is in a crate, the maid can’t accidentally leave the door open and your dog runs away.

If you are camping or staying at a relative’s home it still becomes a secure haven for your pet.

Think of the safety factors a crate gives, a secure dog is safe and won’t get scared and run away. New surroundings and new people have scared many a dog, never to be found again.

Now that I have talked the importance of a crate “to death” let’s get on to the other things you will need:

  • Regular food, treats and water from home
  • Familiar toys, favorite blanket or pillow
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Extra leashes and an extra collar with identification
  • Brush, comb and shampoo
  • Plastic bags to clean up feces
  • Clean rags or extra towels to clean up accidents
  • Spot cleaning supplies to clean up accidents indoors on rugs, etc.
  • Lattice inserts for car windows, if you need to leave dog in car
  • Some old sheets to cover car seats and motel couches from dog hair
  • Flashlight for night walks
  • Dog license and vaccination papers
  • Picture of pet in case it gets lost, strayed or stolen
  • ID tag with “cell” number along with all other necessary info
  • First aid kit, which should include: a topical antibiotic like Bacitracin, bandages for open wounds, tweezers for removing splinters, bug stings, etc. Pepto Bismal or a vet prescription for diarrhea (new places and food can cause tummy upsets) all other medication your dog needs, (heartworm pills, flea preventative and tick preventative if going camping

    Having some sort of identification on your dog is extremely important.

    Collars and tags do a good job, but they can become lost.

    Tattoos on your dog’s underside is good idea, however, how many people do you think will turn a strange dog over to see if there is a tattoo?

    The best suggestion I can make is to have a microchip inserted under the loose skin on your dog’s neck. Microchips are nationally recognized and they can be read by a scanner anywhere in the U.S. should your dog get lost.

    The price is reasonable and your vet can explain the procedure. You register the microchip after the insertion with the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery Program.

    Dogs are creatures of “routine,” and by nature dogs can become very stressed when their routines are drastically changed.

    If your pet is not used to long extended trips, it is all-together possible that it may get car sick and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. Water from a new location or a different brand of food can also cause upsets, that is why I suggest you bring water and food the dog is used to from home.

    Discuss with your vet some preventative measures you might follow in advance of the trip in order to avoid these problems.

    When traveling be certain to stop at least every three hours to give your dog a chance to go to the bathroom and stretch its legs.

    Do not allow your dog to have its head out the window when you are driving down the highway, the possibilities of eye injuries are endless.

    Do not open the car door with out first putting a leash on your dog and having a good hold on it. You never know what may come along and scare or startle your pet.

    Do not leave your pet in a closed car, if you are in a hot location remember the car can heat up in minutes and you may have a case of heatstroke on your hands. Extreme cold can also have a serious effect on your dog. Use common sense, think like a parent and say to yourself “would I leave my child here?”

    Another serious consideration is your dog’s behavior when left alone. Does your pet bark, whimper or cry when you leave it for any period of time? If your pet does, think about the implications of staying in a motel or with friends that this behavior might cause.

    Traveling is stressful enough on a dog, but being left alone in a strange place can and does create more stress.

    It is very important that your behavior is reassuring and calm. If you are upset and nervous, your pet will pick up on your moods and its behavior will match yours.

    If you are upbeat and happy and you treat your pet in the same manner in most cases your dog will enjoy the whole trip.

    Now if you have decided that taking your pet is not the thing to do on this trip, a whole new set of conditions arise.

    If you have family or friends that will “pet sit” your dog and are familiar with its routine, you are “home free.”

    However, if no one is available, there are two things to consider, the first is hiring a “pet sitter” and the second is boarding your pet at your vet’s kennel (if they have one) or finding the perfect kennel for him/her to stay in.

    Pet sitters are a wonderful group of people that love animals. Ask your vet to recommend some for you to interview, look in the telephone book or newspaper, ask your groomer (if you have one) and ask your friends or co-workers if they have had any experience with a pet sitter.

    I suggest hiring one that is bonded and that has some references for you to check.

    It is important that your sitter becomes familiar with your dog’s routine and that your dog gets to know them.

    With that done it is equally important that you leave explicit instructions on feeding, walking, along with vet numbers, family numbers, in case of an emergency and a very detailed itinerary of your trip.

    If a kennel is more to your liking (and most dogs enjoy a kennel visit) visit several. Make a check list and stick to it. Is it clean, well staffed, are there places for the dogs to exercise, what are the amenities, is a vet on call and most of all do you feel comfortable there?

    In many areas of the country there are “pet motels” with all the comforts of home and then some. Of course the prices maybe a little out of your range, but just for your information there are some great “resorts” for your pet to visit while you are away.

    The secret here is, if your pet has been socialized, it will fit into a good kennel atmosphere with out any trouble and it will enjoy the experience.

    If for some reason you are thinking of flying to a vacation destination please read my article

    Flying With Your Pet

    Here are the web sites I had promised you earlier will give you information on camps that you can go to with your dog.

    Some are for basic training purposes, others are for certain breeds, where those breeds learn to do what they have been bred to do. Hunting dogs learn to hunt and herding dogs learn to herd and some camps are just for fun for the dog and its family.

    Another great site to visit that offers you information on pet friendly places to stay, some at reduced rates is It has great information on total travel resources such as vets, pet sitters, groomers, kennels and just about anything else that you may need to know or find almost anywhere in the U.S. It costs $1.95 to join, the information you get is well worth ten times that.

    If you do not have a crate for your dog and are in the market for one and possibly need new leashes, collars, dog bowls, car seat, barrier bars, new dog bedding or “slipcovers” to dog proof your car seats, you might want to to Shop at PETsMART

    Another great traveling companion to take with you is the "doggy litter box," if you are going to be in strange areas and do not feel comfortable taking your dog out for its daily constitutional walks or you are leaving the dog in your room while you are visiting sites the Wizdog is the thing to have. If you are not familiar with this product take a moment and visit you will be glad you did.

    Enjoy your vacation with your pet, be careful and drive safely.

    Here is Some Great Information to Make Traveling Easier

    Dogs should be viewed as a member of the family. If you're traveling, be sure to find pet friendly hotels so your beloved canine won't be left out in the cold! While campgrounds & rv parks usually don't have these restrictions many luxury hotels. You don't have to settle for cheap hotels, just do a bit of online research before your trip.