Tips For Traveling With Your Dog

The only thing better than going on vacation? Going on vacation with your dog! Bringing your furry family member along for the ride can bump any trip up from average to extraordinary, but there are a few extra things you should take care of before you head out on your adventure.

When Traveling With Your Dog…

#1: Get Vaccinations

One of the most important things to do before traveling with your dog is to make sure he is up to date on all his vaccinations. If you're traveling internationally, you may have to obtain a certificate of health from your veterinarian, but for trips that are closer to home, it's still a great idea to make sure your dog is protected from any diseases you may encounter along the way.

#2: Manage Car Time Wisely

During your trip, it's very important that your dog gets the opportunity to relieve himself whenever possible. He shouldn't be deprived of water or food. Be respectful of other people and places by cleaning up after your dog and keeping him leashed. If you're traveling in a car in the summertime, never leave your dog in the car.

#3: Pack the Right Supplies

Decide in advance what items your dog will need for the trip. Here’s a quick list of some basic things to pack when traveling with your dog:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Nylabone treats
  • Pooper scooper
  • Small first aid kit
  • A picture of your pup, in case he gets lost

#4: Find Dog-Friendly Establishments

If you’ve ever considered taking your dog on vacation or even just out for a day trip near home, you are certainly aware that not all establishments welcome dogs. There are plenty of websites to help you find dog-friendly hotels and restaurants:, and are all great resources for tracking down accommodations for you and your pooch.

When Traveling Without Your Dog…

Of course, there are some situations where you simply cannot bring your dog on your trip. Think: business trips, destination weddings, theme parks, etc. In that case, it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to make alternative dog-care arrangements. Luckily, there are a couple of great options to make sure your dog is properly taken care of while you’re out travelling:

#1: At-Home Pet Sitting

Apace with an increasingly pet-friendly society, professional pet sitting services are becoming more and more available. Today, you can find bonded, insured professionals who will walk (or run!) your dog several times a day, feed him, and administer necessary medications. Some offer live-in services, giving you the bonus of house sitting while you’re away, and the comfort that your dog has some company.

Your pet sitter should be someone you know or referred by someone you know. Have the prospective sitter pay a visit before your trip to get acquainted with you and your dog. Observe how she treats your dog, and how your dog responds. Clearly explain your expectations, and clarify the sitter’s obligations. If she will be living in your home, outline the boundaries (e.g., no parties or visitors). If sitter and dog take to each other, you can feel good about the companionship your dog will have while you’re away and his safety in the event of a household emergency.

What to look for in a pet sitter:

  • Does she have experience with your breed of dog?
  • Does she have a back-up plan in the event she cannot get to your home?
  • Is she comfortable interacting with your dog?
  • Is your dog comfortable interacting with the sitter?
  • Is she bonded and insured?
  • Is her fee comparable to other pet-sitting services?

#2: Boarding Kennels

By far the most common source of vacation pet care, a good boarding facility is a perfectly acceptable option while you’re away from your dog. Many animal hospitals offer boarding services, providing your dog with a familiar environment and staff that can handle any health problem that may arise. Some boarding kennels even resemble luxurious spas, complete with private rooms and massages.

Before you leave your dog for the first time at any boarding facility, pay a visit and observe the condition of the facilities and the manners of the caregivers. Find out how much personal attention your dog can anticipate every day. Will he be interacting with other boarders? Will fresh water always be available? Will they feed the diet your dog is used to? These are all important issues that should be addressed before making reservations.

Conversely, there are issues that reputable kennels will take up with you. Is your dog up to date on all shots? Kennels usually require all boarders to be inoculated against kennel cough, a highly contagious illness that can quickly spread to epidemic proportions in a kennel. Is your dog trained and socialized? Does he have any special behavior or health needs? This exchange of vital information is an important step in finding the best care for your best friend.

Whether you’re traveling solo or letting your dog ride shotgun, vacationing as a pet owner is all about forethought. By preparing yourself and your dog ahead of time, taking a vacation together can go off without a hitch. And don't forget to have fun with your dog and enjoy the time together!

Excerpted from Terra-Nova The Staffordshire Bull Terrier © T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Used by Permission.