Top Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Travel With Your Dog

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Top Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Travel With Your Dog

Most of you may not be able to imagine celebrating holidays without your canine friends. Those of you who travel during the holidays miss your dogs… How could you not?!? The obvious solution is to take them with you! Although this sounds simple, traveling with dogs can be stressful.

However, you need not despair. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey, 37 percent of dog owners take their canine friends with them on holiday trips. With good planning and preparation, you can also go on holiday trips with your dogs.

The following are some precautionary tips that help you make such trips stress-free.

Planning and Preparation

Prepare your dogs for travel by going through a trial run of some of the trip procedures. Take them for walks through unfamiliar areas with crowds, so that they fare well at airports, railway stations, etc. Train them to trust you, despite being faced with strange or scary situations, and respond to your commands.

Buy a dog crate or carrier and help your pet get acclimatized to it so that they stay calm in it during the trip. You can make it feel like a safe space by placing their blankets and toys in it.

Make sure your pet has either a collar with proper identification and your contact details and/or is microchipped with current, registered information.

Preferably, choose pet-friendly destinationsaccommodationsrestaurants, and attractions.

Research available veterinary services at your destination and on the travel route. Keep their contact information at hand.

Check if you fulfilled all regulatory requirements needed for travel. Ensure that you carry all important documents, such as your dog’s medical and vaccination records, Declaration of Non-Commercial Transport, and a health certificate from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) accredited vet.

Safe and Comfortable Travel

You can ensure the comfort of your canine friend by taking care of a few little details.

  • Try to avoid the busiest days of the year.
  • Stop periodically to walk your dogs and to let them answer nature’s call.
  • Carry your dog’s gear, such as harness, crate or carrier. The carrier or crate should be well-ventilated and large enough for your dog to sit, lie down, stand, and turn around in.
  • Pack familiar items, such as bowls, blanket, pillow, and toys, for your dog. All these will provide your pet with a sense of security and comfort.
  • Take enough of your dog’s food and litter and regular prescription medication, if any.

Road Travel

Prepare your dog for road trips by going on a few short drives first, gradually increasing the time spent in the car. Although some dogs may become anxious and carsick, your vet can prescribe medicines to keep them calm.

Let your dog ride in the backseat to avoid injury by airbags or hitting the windshield. Doggie seatbelts and crates can help protect your pup while you keep your eyes on the road. 

Never leave your pup in a parked vehicle. Whether it is hot or cold, leaving a dog in a parked vehicle is very dangerous. When you make a stop, take the opportunity to let your pup use the bathroom and get some fresh air.

Make regular comfort stops to let them have a small, healthy snack or treat; water; and the chance to walk. Use waterproof floor liners and seat covers to avoid any dirt or mess.

Air Travel

Check the following beforehand, if you are traveling with your dog on a flight.

Some airlines allow only certain breeds of dogs and impose weight restrictions. Others allow you to travel with your dog as carry-on or checked baggage, which is convenient and inexpensive. Some airlines may confine your dog to the cargo hold. If so, ensure that your pup is in a large carrier or crate and airline personnel make regular checks to ensure their comfort.

The crate should have your flight and contact details on it. Line it with paper or towels in case your pet urinates or defecates. Make sure that it is secure but can be easily opened in case of emergencies.

Choose an airline that does not have a history of accidents or deaths involving pets. Ensure that you fill all forms and carry all necessary documentation.

Book a direct flight whenever possible so that your dog does not have to face stressful conditions, such as long waits or extreme weather.

Rail Travel

If you are traveling by train, it might be more comfortable for your pet. However, take all the precautions applicable for air travel in such situations also.

Accommodation and Activities

Call ahead to double-check if the booked accommodation is still available. Ensure that the hotel management knows your dog’s breed and size and that you understand their pet policy well.

Pet-friendly hotels may offer many great facilities. Apart from pet-friendly rooms, they recommend places for you to exercise your dog and pet concierge services, such as dog walking and pet care.

Show your dog around so that they know the surroundings. Try to establish a routine as soon as possible. Take your dog to places where they can participate in fun activities, like playing on the beach. If you have to leave your dog alone, try to find a pet walker.

Although you want to enjoy your holiday with your dog, you are responsible for their well-being and comfort. However, if you are well-prepared, you need not be anxious about anything.

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  • Holly W
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