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Tips for Stress-Free Dog Travel

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Contributed by Jenna Donleavy, traveler and pet parent of three rescue dogs: Knox, Bear & Harper

How to Travel With a Dog Stress-Free

As the mom of three rescue dogs, each with their own unique personality and desire to explore, I have become a sort of walking advertisement on what not to do with your pups while traveling. Perhaps you’ve heard of #KnaughtyKnox? Fortunately, after three years of my newbie dog mom mistakes, I have become a pro at taking a road trip with dogs. Take these dog travel tips as a teachable moment—a do as I say, not as I did!

Before you even plan on taking a dog on a plane or going on a road trip with dogs, I recommend you evaluate whether your dog is really meant to be a jet-setting pup. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to be with them so much that we convince ourselves that they will be fine, when the very best place for them to be on vacation is with a sitter or in their favorite camp.

If your pup is ready for dog travel, be sure to bear in mind these tips on how to travel with a dog:

Car Rides 

When going on a road trip with dogs that’s over 2 hours, pre-plan a place to stop for a quick stroll and a water or bathroom break. As much as we humanize our dogs, they can’t talk and tell us when they need a break. Plus, not all dogs love being in the car, so planned breaks at highway rest stops, or even a fun dog park that’s just off your proposed route, are so worth the detour.

how to travel with a dog

Hotel Dog Etiquette

Knox, Bear and Harper have had a very privileged life since their days in the shelter (as all dogs should), and part of that is their hotel stays. The most important dog travel tip I can offer is to request a room on a lower floor so that the stairs are an option for you. Knox for one isn’t a fan of sharing the elevator, so we always opt for rooms on low levels by the stairwell.

It’s also a great practice to get to know the front desk personnel and the concierge. They have so much knowledge on local happenings, dog-friendly businesses and activities, and may even know local dog walkers/sitters if you need a few hours off of dog duty to enjoy a date night!

Home Rental Tips

A home rental is usually the way we go as we love the privacy, and let’s face it, it’s less stressful when our hands are tied with multiple leashes and distractions of strangers are all around.

For us, the very most important tip we have when renting a vacation home is doing a full inventory of the home when we arrive. We puppy-proof it, assess the yard and area around the house, and check for busy roads or hazards before setting the dogs free.

how to travel with a dog

Finally, make your pups feel at home by bringing their dog beds, toys, lots of dog towels (you don’t want to use the rental home’s towels on muddy dogs, food and water bowls). Give your pups the sense that this is home; create an environment of complete safety and comfort so you can all enjoy it.

Plane Rides

When it comes to taking a dog on a plane, there is a lot of controversy about service dogs versus non-service dogs. If your dog is not a certified service dog, please do not pose them as such.

It is also important if you are taking a dog on a plane, to make sure that your trusted veterinarian has given you the green light.

Check with your airline for their weight guidelines for in-cabin pets as well as their protocol for the cargo hold. If you are putting your pup in cargo (which we don’t suggest), check with your veterinarian about getting a calming remedy, and make sure it is within the airline’s rules and regulations.

how to travel with a dog

These dog travel tips come from 3 years of experience, lots of miles of traveling with dogs and maybe a few “oops” moments. The memories you create and the enrichment you can provide your pack through road trips and adventures are what life is all about. Enjoy your next dog travel experience, wherever that may take you!

Jenna Donleavy bio