Tips For Travelling With Your Dog

If you ever think you may kennel your dog (meaning at a boarding kennel or even a friend or relative’s house), consider taking your dog there when he is young for a “test run” night or weekend. Ask your friend or the kennel personnel to report on your dog’s behavior. This way, you can get your dog used to the idea of staying someplace different and have an idea how he will react.

Tips for travelling with your dog

If You Go The Kennel Route:

When you take your dog and leave him — DO NOT cry and hug him and tell him how much you will miss him! DO NOT become emotional in front of the dog — NO KIDDING!! Your dog will think: “Why are they SO UPSET?? This must be a bad place!” DO take your dog there with a positive, happy attitude and tell him hat a good time he will have, then give him to the attendant and walk away. You can do your crying in the car (I do!). If you become emotional, you are setting your dog up for fearful and panic-like behavior at the kennel!

When you kennel your dog, it is best that he eat the same thing you feed him at home; that way the stress of the new environment AND new food won’t set him up for vomiting or diarrhea. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations – this is the simplest and least expensive way to protect your dog against the contagious things we CAN prevent, like Bordatella, Coronavirus, Parvovirus, etc.

I ALWAYS make sure my dog has prevention against Heartworm and especially fleas (and ticks, if necessary) by having them on Sentinel (by Novartis – a veterinary prescription product), and I may even put either FrontLine, Topspot, or Advantage on them. At the very least, it is not a bad idea to have the kennel bathe your dog the day you pick him up. This way, if you request a flea bath, the fleas he may have picked up will be left there and he will be clean from any kennel smell he may have picked up.

If You Take Your Dog Travelling With You:

If you want your dog to behave and be comfortable in the car, then start young, and take him to fun places. Many people don’t understand why their dog doesn’t like car rides, but say they only take him to the vet, kennel, or groomer! Gosh, I wouldn’t have fun either!! When I have a puppy, my puppy goes with me on short trips to the corner store, to the post office, to the park, to the pet store, etc. Trips should be frequent, short and fun to make a good “go Bye Bye” impression on your dog.

Traveling with your dog is safest when the dog is either in a crate (see more on crate training here) or with a seatbelt on. That way quick stops or accidents don’t have to mean injury to your dog. This also keeps busybodies in one place! If you have doubts whether your dog will be carsick, DO NOT feed at least 12 hours before travel.

If you must leave your dog in the car for any length of time, remember that even cloudy, cool days can kill your dog! The heat in your car can become unbearable within minutes. Windows should be more than cracked (I found window guards which allow me to open my windows further without letting would-be thieves get their hands inside), a sunscreen should block the windshield (they make nice reflective ones), and you should park in the shade. Vans or minivans (especially if they have smoke glass side and rear windows) stay much cooler than cars and they have more windows that can be opened. If you are gone any length of time, CHECK on your dog frequently. When you come back, give the dog a drink of water. Don’t let him gorge, just let him drink some and then wait a bit and offer more. Dogs will sometimes vomit if a large amount of water hits their stomach all at once.

Speaking of water, it is a good idea to bring a jug of water from home, both for on the road use and also because some dogs don’t get used to other water easily and can develop vomiting or diarrhea from an unfamiliar water supply.

Some Hotel Hints

When you take your dog to a new place to stay (hotel, cottage, etc.) they may not be on their best behavior. They understand what the routine and rules are at home, but may not understand that those rules pertain no matter where you are! Often the best insurance for that is to bring your dog’s crate along on the trip (you did purchase a fold down suitcase style variety, didn’t you???). This will do two things: it will provide a confinement for your dog and prevent damage that you may have to pay for, and it will be a safe and familiar place for your dog to call his own while you are on the road.

travelling with your dog

If you leave the motel room, I would first try to leave for a short trip (maybe to get some ice) to see how your dog acts in the room. You don’t want your neighbors complaining. Even a dog-friendly hotel won’t hesitate to kick you out if you disturb others! Still, a new traveler will react to passers-by by barking – it is up to you to let him know this is NOT acceptable. If I leave my dogs in the room, I leave the room vent/air conditioner on, and the television on to create some white noise to drown out all the outside noise the dog won’t be used to.

Things To Bring Along

When I travel, I have a bag I pack just for the dogs. In this bag are things I have learned that I may need.

  • A blanket or king sized flat sheet to put over the covers on the bed to keep the dog hair off for subsequent guests.
  • Towels to wipe wet dogs, or dirty ones (I once had to take Cody to a coin operated car wash for a hose down after he had diarrhea in my van! Luckily, I had the seats covered and I just had to throw the cover out, but I did not have towels to dry him off!)
  • First aid kit for dogs
  • Cleaning and deodorizing solution and paper towels
  • Travel bowls for food and water
  • Jug of water from home
  • Travel toys
  • Shampoo – for those emergency baths
  • Flea products
  • Travel leash (your dog should be on a leash at all times – after all, he IS in a strange place) and Flexi-leash for more freedom
  • Identification tags (on the dog!!!)
  • Baggies to clean up the dog poop (you DO clean up after your dog, don’t you???)
  • Large garbage bags for big problems like Cody’s diarrhea incident!
  • Heartworm preventative and flea and tick medication
  • Brush (I once had to pick burrs out of my dog’s coat after a romp in a field)

Problem Cases – How To Desensitize

Dogs who become carsick must be exposed SLOWLY to riding in the car. Each step should take a week, and if the dog gets sick on a step, you need to back off to the previous step until he doesn’t get sick.

Put the dog in the car. Have a toy to keep the dog’s mind off the car, but don’t let him get too rowdy.

  • Dog in the car, car started and running in driveway.
  • Dog in the car, car started. Back down the driveway and then move back up the driveway (IF the dog hasn’t gotten sick on the way down!)
  • Dog in the car, take car around the block (shorten the trip for a week if even that is too much)
  • Dog in the car, take car to local convenience store and back home (or any place close but farther than around the block with a couple of starts and stops along the way).
  • Dog in the car, short trip (you decide the length based on how your dog is responding.

Dogs who get carsick will especially benefit from either a crate (especially the more enclosed plastic crates) or a seatbelt (check your local pet shop for dog seat belts). These will limit unsteady movements. Keep in mind, dogs don’t always vomit when they are carsick. Some may just drool excessively or look wet around the mouth and may have a sick or queasy look in their eyes. Watch your dog for signs of carsickness and work with the steps above to make both of you feel better!

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The A-Z Guide To Dog & Puppy Training