General TIPS for traveling with dogs
Before taking your canine companion on a trip, prepare yourself and your dog for a time that will be filled with excitement, adventures and new experiences. Your dog's safety and well-being should always come first, as your dog is completely dependent on you, and on you making the right decisions for him. Traveling with your canine friend and sharing fun times together is one of the joys and pleasures of owning a dog.
There are a number of things to be done before traveling with your dog.
- Vet check – Check with your veterinarian to confirm that your dog is in good health and that there are no health concerns that might keep your dog from taking a trip.
- Vaccinations – Make sure that your dog is current on all vaccinations and take vaccination records and other health records with you.
- Have your dog's ID tags on his collar.
- Microchip your dog. In the unfortunate event that your dog gets loose and becomes separated from you (by running away, etc.), the microchip will make it much easier to find your dog.
- Heartworm preventative and flea preventative – It is very important that you take steps to prevent your dog from getting heartworm. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes that carry the heartworm larva, and can be fatal. Also, use a flea and tick preventative to prevent flea and tick infestations. Make sure that you take these preventative medications with you. Administer them to your dog on his regular schedule (according to the preventative directions). If you’re planning a longer trip, take a sufficient amount with you.
- Avoid car sickness – If you don’t take your dog for car rides regularly and you’re planning to travel by car, prepare your dog for this experience gradually. Take your dog for short car rides often before the trip. Do not take your dog for car rides right after his meals, as it can cause motion sickness. Keep a cleaning solution and some paper towels in your car just in case.
- Crate train your dog and use a crate on a regular basis. The crate will be a very valuable and handy tool when travelling. It will provide your dog with a very familiar space, his own “den”, when he is visiting unfamiliar places such as hotels, motels, or the homes of family or friends. Crates also provide additional security for your dog in case of a car accident.
- Provide ongoing socialization and confidence building exercises for your dog. These will make the trip pleasant for your dog as he explores new environments and enjoys vacation adventures. Socialization and confidence building exercises help to minimize the stress caused by the various new stimuli, new environments, and unfamiliar people that your dog will encounter on the trip.
- Train your dog. Basic skills that you have taught your dog before the trip will make traveling much easier, safer and more pleasant. If your dog does not possess basic obedience skills and misbehaves all the time, attempting to begin training while on the trip is not a good idea. Beginning training at this time could turn into a very frustrating and unpleasant experience for you, your human traveling companions and your dog. Some basic skills that will make your trip a pleasant experience include loose leash walking, sit, down, waiting before getting into and out of a car, going to a crate on command, leaving objects on command, waiting at a door (for safety reasons), going potty on command, walking nicely on leash, lying down, going to a designated place and staying there, becoming quiet on command, etc.
- If your dog shows some anxiety about traveling or even about getting into a car and you’re not sure how to resolve this issue, consult a professional specializing in dog behavior.
- Check in advance to identify the dog-friendly places in the area you’re going to visit so you know where you can bring your canine friend.
- Check where you can take your dog in case of emergency. Make a list of local veterinary emergency clinics in the area and also along your route.
- Keep your dog safely restrained in the car. Do not allow him to move all around the car. It is unsafe for everyone and it doesn’t foster calmness in your dog. Have your dog wear a dog seat belt or put your dog in a crate. Crates can protect and shelter your dog in case of a car accident.
- Do not allow your dog to stick his head out the window. Although it looks cute, might cause dirt or debris to get into your dog’s eyes and could even lead to eye injury.
- Try to keep your dog's routine as normal as possible.
- Avoid feeding your dog and then driving, as this can cause nausea and motion sickness. Offer your dog fresh water often.
- Make frequent stops so your dog can relieve himself and so you can provide him with a bit of exercise. Teaching your dog to relieve on command can come in very handy while traveling, especially when the weather is bad.
- Clean up after your dog.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
- Never leave your dog in the car alone.
What to take with you:
- Your dog’s food
- Can opener if you use any canned food
- Food bowls
- Medications if your dog is taking any
- Waste bags to pick up after your dog
- Dog bed
- A few toys
- Some treats
- Vet records
- Grooming tools
- First aid kit
Take a camera too so you can capture some of the wonderful travel memories with pictures and remember all the fun times you had with your dog while traveling together.
Have a safe trip and have lots of fun while traveling with your beloved canine companion!
© Lexi Hayden
Fine-tuned Canines, www.fine-tunedcanines.com
Contact Fine-tuned Canines about our Behavior Modification programs if you need assistance before traveling.
Lexi Hayden is a professional dog training instructor, canine behavior specialist, owner of Fine-tuned Canines, and a proud member of the International Association of Canine Professionals. Fine-tuned Canines provides dog training and canine behavior counseling services to residents of Southwest Florida: Naples FL, Fort Myers FL, Bonita Springs FL, Estero FL, Sanibel Island, FL, Marco Island, FL, Lehigh Acres FL, LaBelle FL, Cape Coral FL, Punta Gorda FL, Charlotte FL, Ave Maria FL, Alva FL, etc.
She can be reached at (239) 935.5391 or via CONTACT page