You’ve decided to take your dog on a trip with you and want to be sure it goes well. Here are some reminders and advice to make the trip as safe and fun as possible.
Before you are ready to travel, take your dog on a number of car rides to ensure he is used to traveling and to give you an idea of how he will do.
Make these trips fun so your dog associates it with a positive experience. Remember a short trip is different from a long journey. On a long trip your dog will get bored more easily and want to lay down so be sure your vehicle can accommodate that.
Getting a doggie car seat or being able to put your dog in a crate while in your vehicle is a good idea. A sudden stop could result in serious injury for him even if nothing happens to you. Just slamming on the brakes one time could be a very bad experience for your dog. Also, have a plan for if you should have car trouble while on the road. If these type of issues make you nervous you may want to consider leaving your dog at a boarding kennel instead. This might allow you one less worry when you travel knowing your pet is safe and sound and around people who really care about your dogs welfare.
Be sure your dog’s vaccinations are all current, which they always should be, as well as giving him a flea and tick control treatment. These insects may not be a problem where you live but they may be wherever you are going. Bring along his vet records that show when his vaccinations were done as well as any vet care he has received.
A collar with a tag showing his name, address and phone number is helpful. A rabies tag on his collar is not sufficient proof of vaccination because they do not have any identifying information and those tags can easily be moved from dog to dog by just attaching it to another collar.
If he isn’t already, you may want to get him a microchip just in case. Many lost dogs have been recovered from a microchip.
Prepare a doggie suitcase just for him. You will need bottled water, his food and treats, his collar and a leash and any medication he is taking. A retractable leash might be helpful since he will probably not be able to run loose when you stop for a rest. Add in one or two of his favorite toys and be sure to bring some baggies or plastic bags for poop scooping.
Look up the city you are traveling to and identify one or two veterinarians. Map out their address to make things easier in case of an emergency.
You should also identify one or two boarding kennels in the area where you will be staying. You may want to do something for an entire day or overnight and not have a suitable place for you dog to stay so planning for a just-in-case beforehand will save you some work.
When planning your travel keep in mind a trip with your dog may take longer. You will need to make more frequent stops for potty breaks, to allow your dog to stretch his legs and get a little exercise, and have some water.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even the best house-trained dog might have accidents in a strange house or motel room. He will be somewhere he isn’t comfortable with and it isn’t at all uncommon for dogs to have “accidents” while in a strange location.
If you are going to visit and stay with a friend or family member you need to find out if there will be other dogs around. This can be a big problem. Other dogs may not be as well-trained as yours or may not be as friendly . Remember, your dog will be encroaching on this other dogs home and there could be “territorial” issues. Never take someone at their word that their dog is friendly and won’t bother your dog. Whenever you introduce your dog to a strange dog, always make sure both dogs are on a leash. This is very important. The dogs will want to sniff each other in the rear and you should allow this as this is how they identify each other. If one dog begins to stiffen up or display any fear or nervousness immediately separate the dogs. This is a classic type of behavior that leads to one dog attacking the other. Importantly, just because two dogs get along at the first meeting does not mean everything will be ok. Any number of things could change how they interact. You will need to watch your dog very closely during the entire time of your stay. Never, ever just “let the dogs work it out.” Fearful, suspicious, dominant breeds as well as certain other breeds may not mix well.
If you are sure you will be taking your dog with you, then plan carefully and completely. It can be fun to have your dog along if you plan well and take the necessary precautions.
Terry and Debbie Vaught
Where Pets Feel At Home