Sharing an adventure with your best four-legged friend is an experience unlike any other, and can make for an unforgettable experience if you hit the road prepared. However, poor planning can quickly ruin a vacation with your dog, and send you both home early and disappointed. To help remedy the unexpected, here we’ve gathered 10 helpful tips for your next travel endeavor together in an easy guide to make your next adventure the ultimate success.
Before diving in, here are some basic tips for traveling with your dog:
Dog Traveling Basics
Dog traveling basics are pretty straight forward, here are a few:
- Your dog should have basic training so she will behave well and remain calm during the trip.
- Collar and identification should be worn by your dog at all times during travel.
- Bring a list of stops and local veterinary hospitals on the way.
- Pack plenty of food and water, bowls, treats and other essentials.
- Pack bags to pick up waste.
- Bring with any medications your dog needs, and a copy of veterinary vaccine records.
- Bring toys and chews for boredom times.
- Have your dog’s health certificate on hand when applicable.
- Make appropriate arrangements when traveling by plane.
Tips for Traveling With Your Dog
Although these general suggestions are a good guide to follow for traveling with your best four legged friend, we here at Seaside Planet want to help you make a good trip with your dog a GREAT one- so we’re diving in a bit further. All dog parents know that the unexpected tends to happen at the worst time, so we’ve collected 10 traveling tips to mitigate potential situations of unpreparedness and help set you up for success when traveling with your dog!
1. Plan for a short first trip.
Your dog’s first travel experience is likely to be the worst, so set everyone up for success by planning a short outing before jumping into a lengthy road trip. Start by taking your dog to a local dog-friendly park or beaches- just make sure to pack the appropriate gear for your adventure.
Additionally, when taking short outings make the experience a good one for your dog to prevent any problem behaviors from developing. Bring toys to the beach and pack plenty of treats to reward good behaviors. Pay attention to how your dog is handling the excitement of travel, and use this as a guide for if they’re ready to handle a longer trip.
Aside from handling travel itself, these short trips are also a good time to assess how your dog handles confinement. Whether they’re kept in a carrier, crate, or in a seat, your dog is likely to experience some degree of fear or anxiety when exposed to unfamiliar travel. By teaching your dog to be relaxed and comfortable in unfamiliar situations during these short outings, you can reduce this anxiety for future trips.
2. Understand problem behaviors BEFORE traveling.
Through taking short outings with your dog before traveling, you’ll set yourself, and your dog, up for ultimate success on the road. During this time spent together you’ll start to learn any problem behaviors that may develop while traveling. There are many things that can cause stress to your dog during travel, triggering behaviors outside of their norm. Things like dehydration, air pressure and motion sickness, just to name a few.
If you notice any problem behaviors, like hiding, refusal to eat/drink, over-grooming, and aggression, you’ll need to address them before ever inviting your dog on vacation. Use proper training techniques to work through these unwanted behaviors or anxiety, and to restore your dog’s confidence on the road.
Some dogs travel well by car or plane, while others do not. It’s important to be patient with your dog, understand any potential triggers, and to accept that it may take time to get them comfortable traveling long distances.
3. You and your dog should practice good manners.
We all know the dog manners basics, like picking up our dog’s waste and not letting them roam off leash- but good manners go much further than that. Here is an etiquette guide to practice while in public with your dog:
- Don’t assume every location is dog-friendly, and respect those that are not.
- Always obey leash laws. You never know if someone near isn’t comfortable with dogs, or if an area is unsafe for your dog.
- Don’t let your dog approach someone unless they’ve asked for attention from your dog.
- Don’t allow your dog to jump on people, even if they’re friendly. This is not polite behavior.
- Monitor all of your dogs behaviors and interactions with others, even if they’ve done it before.
- Use rewards like training treats to teach your dog how to act in public.
- Fearful dogs, or those with a bite history, should not be brought to crowded places for the safety of the dog and others around.
- Only bring your dog into a public setting if they’ll feel comfortable, at ease and safe there.
- When introducing your dog to children, be prepared to interfere if the child isn’t behaving well with your dog.
Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to ensure our dogs are comfortable and behave well in public. Training your dog needs to be a priority before ever inviting them to join you on an adventure.
4. Pack plenty of entertainment...and then pack a bit more!
If your dog is going to be confined for a longer period of time than they’re used to, they’re likely to have some pent up energy. Dogs need exercise daily, and days spent traveling are no different. Bring leashes, treats, toys, and chews, and consider your dog’s favorite activities at home to understand what they’ll like best on the road.
Cesar’s Way offers great tips and tricks for burning energy in small spaces, like making them work for treats, running up and down stairs, playing keep away, and more. Not only are these activities good ways to alleviate excess energy during travel, but they can also be used as training opportunities to further your dog’s confidence and bond with you.
5. Pack plenty of towels.
Motion sickness happens to even the most experienced four-legged passengers, and it can make for quite the mess. When traveling with your dog, remember to pack extra towels for potential cleanup situations. Aside from illness, towels also come in handy when you get caught in the rain, after time at the beach, or when your dog jumps in a mud puddle!
6. Pack a dog first-aid kit.
A first-aid kit is crucial for dog parents in the event of a natural disaster and any time a dog is far away from immediate medical assistance- such as when the family takes the dog camping at the beach. Although a first-aid kit may not be needed, it’s a preparedness that you’re sure to appreciate if the need arises. From injuries, to ingesting something toxic, there are many things that may require immediate medical attention while traveling. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll be set up for success if accidents do occur.
The ASPCA Animal Control Center recommends packing a do-it-yourself first-aid kit, that every dog parent should carry with while traveling. According to the ASPCA, your DIY kit should contain:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting *Always check with a veterinarian expert before administering to your dog.
- Ice pack
- Disposable gloves
- Scissors with blunt end
- OTC antibiotic ointment
- Oral syringe
- Liquid dishwashing detergent for bathing
- Alcohol wipes
- Saline eye solution
- Styptic powder
- Artificial tear gel
- Veterinarian phone number, clinic name, and address.
7. Plan for doggy adventure stops.
While traveling with your dog, take the time to experience some doggy adventures and show them the time of their life. From dog-friendly eateries, to pet friendly attractions, hiking trails, and more- there’s top dog destinations in just about every corner of the world!
If you’re looking for a beach adventure with your dog, check out the best dog beaches in California and Florida. Additionally, if your dog is comfortable in and around the water you can explore marine terrains by kayak or paddleboard. The opportunities for adventuring with your best four-legged friend truly are endless.
Before choosing your travel destinations, choose locations that are dog-friendly, near your travel route, and something you and your dog can both enjoy together.
8. Pack dog gear for travel adventures.
Above all else, it’s our job as dog parents to keep our furry ones happy, healthy and safe. Aside from safety precautions and everyday healthy living, this also means packing appropriate gear for planned (or surprise) activities. From hiking, to exploring the seaside, to dog parks and more, different adventures will require different gear needs for your dog.
Along with dog’s travel items, you’ll need to pack gear that’s needed for any adventures along the way. For example, you’ll need appropriate beach equipment for adventuring seaside with your dog to keep them safe throughout the day. Or if you'll be camping, be sure and bring along a dog-friendly tent and travel bed. Additionally, it’s important to understand how to keep dogs cool while exploring the beach, or warm while exploring the mountains. If you’re adventuring in rough, rocky terrains it’s important to protect your dogs feet with dog shoes, and if you’ll be near water you’ll want to pack a life jacket.
Packing for adventure along the way means being prepared for the environments you’ll be exploring, and making sure your dog stays safe, comfortable and happy throughout the day. By preparing a well thought out adventure, you’ll set both you and your dog up for success on the road!
9. Bring spare leashes, collars and identification.
Although one leash, collar and identification tag is likely all you’ll need, it never hurts to bring a spare. This is one problem that may never arise, but you’ll be glad that you prepared ahead of time if it does.
Keep backup leashes, collars and identification in an easily accessible area, and with you throughout travel. This way if something gets soiled or lost, you’ll be prepared with backup straight away.
10. Understand the dog regulations of your destinations.
Dog regulations vary by area, depending on country, state, city and even neighborhood. Being a responsible dog parent means understanding regulations, bans, and allowances in each area you plan to visit with your dog. Just remember, this also includes stops along the way. Assuming an area is dog-friendly, or lacks strict regulations, is a sure way to run into issues with locals or enforcement.
Plan out the areas you’ll be stopping in, research specific regulations for that district, and follow any established regulations as stated.
Now It’s Time to Adventure With Your Dog
Now that you’ve learned dog traveling basics and beyond, it’s time to give your first outing together a go! Remember to be patient with your dog during travel, to prepare thoroughly ahead of time, and don’t push it if your dog doesn’t have the temperament for travel. An adventure with your dog should be a rewarding experience for you both, and by following this guide you’ll be well on your way to a successful first trip!
Do you have an unforgettable dog traveling story you’d like to share? Or do you have any questions that we’ve left unanswered? I invite you to share your comments and questions in the comment section below!
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.