Planning your next vacation or family holiday? You might be wondering what to do with the family dog: get a friend or neighbour to help out, board him at a professional kennel, have a dog sitter come in to your home, or take him with you.
Of all the choices, more and more people are choosing to take their dogs on vacation with them. That’s because it’s easier than ever to find pet-friendly hotels, motels and camp grounds. And, there are even dog-tailored special vacations offered by specialty travel planners and websites.
The first thing you’ll need to do is narrow down your own vacation choices, and then discuss the idea of bringing the dog with you, with your family. It does mean giving up some of the freedom you might normally have, but on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to spend more quality time with your pet, something we don’t often enjoy in our time-stressed world.
Taking your dog with you is almost always limited to car or RV travel.
Airline travel and your dog
Airlines are constantly flip-flopping on allowing small dogs in the cabin with you during a flight or not. Larger dogs have to be crated of course, and are shipped with the cargo. That has so many risks that the American Humane Society doesn’t recommend airline travel for a dog who has to be stowed, unless it is absolutely necessary and there’s no other option.
Baggage and cargo slip-ups and mistakes are inevitable, and the added degree of security at airports today often means that checked items are lower on the priority scale. There are horror stories of dogs left in freezing cargo bays, or extremely hot loading docks sometimes for hours and hours.
So a vacation is not the time to test your luck with airline travel and your dog, although you might consider it if your dog can be carried with you in the passenger cabin. To find out more about the rules and regulations surrounding that option, check with the airline itself — get their policy in writing.
So… it’s a road trip with your dog. What do you need to plan?
First, a secure and safe way to transport your dog in the car
For a longer trip, the most practical is a kennel cage, well strapped in to the back seat of your vehicle. Your dog should have access to water every hour or so, and of course, be given breaks to relieve himself.
I read an excellent suggestion about stopping at roadside rest stops to let your dog out; be sure to put his leash on BEFORE you take him out of the kennel cage, and get a good strong grip on that leash, even for a little dog.
After a car ride, your dog may be a little disoriented and stressed, and could dash out of your car, right into traffic.
Second, ensure dogs are welcome at your destination
One of the best online resources to find pet friendly accommodations is called BringFido.com. It is a dog travel directory that provides unbiased reviews, detailed pet policy information, and online reservations at more than 25,000 pet friendly hotels through a partnership with Travelocity.
Since launching in April 2005, Bring Fido.com has helped more than half a million people take their dog on vacation. When you’re looking for somewhere to stay, play or eat with your dog, BringFido.com is the place to come.
Travel for you and your dog
Another excellent resource when you want to take your dog on vacation with you, is PetTravel.com This site lists tons of resources for travelling with your dog, including airline pet policies, pet passports and more.
Third: Your Emergency Plan
When you take your dog on vacation with you, here are some of the extra precautions you might want to consider:
- write down your veterinarian’s name, address and phone number and take it with you: it’s crazy how you can forget even the basics in an emergency situation
- be sure to write down your dog’s registration, license and/or microchip information, and take a recent hard-copy photo of your dog with you. You definitely don’t want to think about it, but what if he got lost while you were away? You want to make it as easy as possible to get him back – fast.
- a little dog first aid kit – with dog-friendly insect repellant, extra towels, antibiotic cream, some gauze and some rubbing alcohol would cover off most emergencies until you can get vet care
Roll with it!
Remember, it’s a lot of fun taking your dog on vacation with you but it does mean you’ll have to maintain your good humour and flexibility at times.
For example, if your dog happens to be afraid of storms and you encounter a big one while you’re away, plan to order take-out food to eat in the hotel room that night.