Traveling and Exploring with Dogs

By: Kristie Franks, M.S.

For many of us our dogs are members of our families. We want to be able to take them with us when we go out for the day or when we travel. It is wonderful to include our dogs but there are things that should be considered before taking your dog with you. Not every dog is suitable for every situation and the owner must be prepared for a plan B if they recognize that the dog is showing signs of stress and/or fatigue.

When taking pets with us on vacation or overnight travel, several things must be considered:

  1. Does my destination allow pets?
  2. Does my dog like to travel long hours in a car?
  3. What all items must I take with me to accommodate my dog?
  4. Is my dog well trained so we do not have incidents with behavior and the dog will not run away if it gets loose?

Always check ahead and make sure the hotel, RV camp, friends or family have the ability and want to accommodate your dog. Unfortunately not everyone can for various reasons to pets not being allowed in the apartment due to allergies. Many dogs are used to short rides in a car, but may have issues with longer rides. If your dog is one that is hyperactive in a car or gets car sick, long rides in a car can be difficult. Traveling by plane can be hard on pets also. Always make sure of the airlines rules and regulations before purchasing tickets. When traveling you must take along a crate (for hotel stays and emergency situations), water, bowls, food, treats, waste collection bags, grooming items in case the animal gets into something and needs to be washed and dried, proof of vaccinations, emergency contact info, information on special needs of the pet and medications they may need while gone. Any dog that goes in public should be well mannered. The dog should walk nicely on a leash, not bark at people or other dogs, show no aggression towards people or other dogs, and be house broken. Your dog should never be an annoyance to others. If you know that your dog is not suitable, then find a pet sitter or a boarding facility for the pet.

What about local travel and days around town? Most of the same applies. Your dog should be up to date on vaccinations. You must consider weather conditions. Your dog must be well behaved and not cause a disturbance while out in public. I see many that bring their dogs to outdoor festivals with warm to hot temperatures with little regard for how it will impact the dog. Not all dogs like crowds and this can cause issues with anxiety. The owner is responsible for having proof of vaccinations on the dog or with them and must bring along water for the dog and make time allowances to give the dog breaks from the crowd and heat. If you are one who uses retractable leashes, do not let the leash out long in crowded areas. This is a hazard for the dog and for others around you. When in crowded areas the dog should walk close to you to avoid being a trip hazard or being accidentally stepped on. Again, the dog must not bark, growl or make a general nuisance of itself and it must have enough control to not urinate on things it should not.

Always remember it is your responsibility to make sure you dog is happy and healthy. Do not force your dog into a situation that causes anxiety and stress or puts them at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Always have fresh water with you as you do not know where you may have access and when and you may need it quickly of you realize your dog is suddenly overheating. Also, always remember that only legitimate service dogs trained to help someone with a legal disability are allowed all access. Emotional support animals and therapy animals are not allowed all access and are only allowed where pets are regularly accepted. Be responsible and keep your pet safe and out of harm’s way by knowing your pets’ needs and personality. Enjoy the fall weather with your family and furry family members and stay safe.