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Essential Tips for Traveling with a Dog

Essential Tips for Traveling with a Dog


If you’re planning a trip to another state or country with your dog, whether it’s for business or leisure, it’s normal to feel a little anxious about whether or not he would cope well with being away from home and being on the road for hours on end. Traveling with a dog is not an impossible feat—a lot of people are able to do it after all. You just need to know your dog well, make sure he’s completely healthy, research about the place you’re going to take him to, and be prepared for emergencies that might arise as you travel.

Preparing for the Trip


There are some key things you need to prepare before you go traveling with dogs:

1.     Visit the vet.

It would be a good idea to take your pet to the vet for a full health check and immunization before he travels with you, especially if it’s going to be a long trip. If you’re taking your dog for a plane ride, you’d most likely be asked for a health certification so it’s best you obtain this as well during your vet visit. If you’re traveling with a senior dog, you might want to consult your vet first on whether he’s fit for a long flight or a road trip.

2.     Update your pet’s ID.

A lot can happen if you take your dog far away from home. In the off chance that he escapes, you’d want to be able to be tracked easily by whomever finds him. Make sure the information on his ID tag is updated. Have him microchipped if you haven’t done it yet.

3.     Have important numbers and documents on hand.

Be prepared for emergencies by making sure you have the contact numbers of vet hospitals and your own vet on your phone. You should be able to call for help instantly in the event that your dog requires medical attention at any point during your travel. Bring your pet’s medical records with you and keep it somewhere you can easily find should the need arise.  

4.     Prepare supplies.

Of course, you’d need to have all your pet’s basic needs ready with you on your trip. This would include a sufficient amount of food and water for the duration of the trip, any necessary medication, blankets, and his favorite toys. For transporting your pet, choose a sturdy, well-ventilated crate with enough space and has a leakproof bottom lined with absorbent material. The crate should also be labeled properly to indicate that there’s a live animal inside, with owner information. 

5.     Get him accustomed to his crate.

Whether you’re traveling with a dog on a train, a plane, or a car, your dog would be spending most of his time in his crate. It’s important that he gets used to being kept in a crate or kennel before you go on a trip. Spend a few weeks letting him get used to it. Leave the crate in the room where he sleeps and let your pooch smell and explore. Feed him inside the crate and put in his blankets. Give him treats if he steps and stays inside.

Traveling by Bus or Train

It’s entirely possible to travel with your dog using public transportation like buses and trains. If your dog has the temperament (and size!) for it, riding on a train or bus is an affordable travel option. Here are some things you need to know if you plan to take your dog with you on a train or bus ride:

1.     Arrive at the station early.

Pets can be taken with you to ride a train, given that they’re no bigger than the allowed size and are safely confined in an approved carrier. Before you can board a train, you’d have to check in with the administrative office first and fill out a pet release form. If you want no delays, get to the station at least 30 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave. Bring a health certificate with you.

2.     Keep him leashed or in a crate.

Your dog would be required inside his carrier inside the train and in stations. Some train or bus companies require a carrier that’s specifically manufactured for transporting pets. Make sure the crate is leak-proof and well-ventilated.

3.     Keep food and treats handy.

Amtrak for instance, allows dogs on trains, but for trips no longer than 7 hours. Keep a bag of treats handy in case your dog gets restless. It’s likely that you won’t need to feed him a lot during the trip, but it’s important that you keep your dog properly hydrated.

4.     Be considerate of other passengers.

When riding a pet-friendly bus, ask passengers first before you sit next beside them. You don’t know if they might be afraid or allergic to animals. It would be a good idea to sit at the back of the bus where you’re less likely to bother other passengers.

5.     Avoid rush hour.

Crowded buses and trains can cause anxiety in your pet, and may even be dangerous. You might want to schedule your trip when it’s not the rush hour.

Traveling with Your Dog in a Car

If you’re traveling with your dog in a car, here are some useful reminders:

1.     Do test drives before the trip.

It’s important you do crate training inside your car after your dog is comfortable enough to stay inside his crate. Every day during feeding time, put the crate in the car and place your dog and his food inside. Don’t start the car just yet and just allow him to be comfortable inside the crate while inside the car. Give him treats whenever he goes inside his crate.

When you feel that he’s ready, go for test drives around the block with your dog in the back inside his crate. The idea is to establish the crate as a safe space for him amidst all the unfamiliar surroundings he’ll come across as you travel. Start with short trips first and gradually go longer distances.

2.     Prevent car sickness.

Dogs can get motion sickness, too! To prevent this, feed him during the evening before the trip but allow him to travel the next day on an empty stomach. If you can allow it, let your dog to look out the window as this could also help prevent carsickness. You can very slightly roll down the window to allow him to smell the air that rushes by.

3.     Plan pit stops.

It’s important to take regular breaks when you’re traveling with a dog in a car. Keep him in a strong leash or inside his carrier if you have to step out of the car. You can feed him during pit stops if he asks for food, but keep meals light. The most important thing is to keep him hydrated throughout the trip so make sure there’s always water available

4.     Never leave him alone inside the vehicle.

Never leave your pet alone inside the vehicle. Temperatures inside can rise up really quickly and this is dangerous for your pet.

How to Travel with Dog on a Plane

Flying is complicated enough for us human beings. So how to travel with your dog on a plane without any trouble or complications? If you know what to expect and do your research well, you and furry companion shouldn’t hit any snags on your trip.

1.     Review pet travel regulations.

Part of your preparations of course would be finding out about any rules and regulations on bringing in pets into the state or country you’re taking him to. Pet travel regulations vary—some countries would require specific vaccinations administered at a specified period of time prior to your visit. A simple search would tell you everything you need to know. Carefully read the rules and get ready to meet the requirements.

2.     Research on airline regulations.

Airlines impose regulations regarding the allowed size and weight of pets to be taken on board. Find out what conditions need to be met whether your dog is allowed to travel with you inside the cabin, or whether he must stay in the hold as extra baggage. Some countries strictly require pets to be transported via a cargo company, which will choose the best flight for your pet and have staff to look after him during layovers and when the flight has landed.

Independent worker Daniel Siemaszkiewicz recommends getting in touch with your airline and obtaining an official document saying that they’ve been notified that you’re traveling with a dog. According to him, this step helps a lot in preventing any unnecessary delays.

3.     Make sure he’s comfortable.

Before you board the plane, give your dog time to walk around for a bit. A little exercise would help him keep calmer in-flight. Also, don’t forget to let your dog relieve himself before you board the plane.

Whether your dog is with you inside the cabin or would be transported inside the cargo hold, make sure he has everything he needs inside his crate. Water is especially important. His favorite scents would also help keep him calm during the flight so you might want to consider putting some of your clothes with your scent in it with him in his crate.

You don’t have to worry at all if you pet is staying inside the cargo hold during the flight. An airplane’s undercarriage has the same temperature and air pressure as the cabin. If he has been crate trained properly, it wouldn’t be a stressful trip for him at all.

After the Trip

When you and your dog arrive safely to your destination, there are a few things to remember to do:

1.      Dog-proof your accommodations.

Make sure the room or house is completely free of anything that could hurt your dog, before you allow him to explore. Household cleaning items, electrical cables, and toxic plants must be put safely out of reach.

2.     Locate the nearest pet supply store.

Don’t wait until the last minute to look for a pet supply store when you need to replenish your dog’s food supply. If there aren’t any easily accessible pet supply stores near you, you can order online and arrange for the dog food to be delivered to where you’ll be staying.

3.     Don’t leave your dog unattended.

Make sure to never leave your dog alone, even if you’re staying in pet-friendly accommodations. Canines could get anxious when left alone in a strange place and do damage to property. Find a sitter if you have to go somewhere you couldn’t take your dog with you.

 Here are some more tips on how to travel with your dog in an infographic 

If you’re asking yourself if traveling with my dog is a good idea, it could most certainly be! As long as you take the time needed to prepare yourself and him for the trip, you can look forward to having fun new memories together.

Of course, you also have to consider your dog’s personality, if he’s quite adventurous or is the type who would rather stay at home. If he’s the latter, it would be better not to force your dog to travel. Here’s how you can still care for your dog while you’re away on vacation.


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