Traveling With Your Dog

Whether it’s a quick trip to your in-laws for the weekend, or a 7-day vacation, traveling with your dog can be fun – if you pre-plan. First, be aware that just because “Freddy” is the light of your life in the 4-legged department, many of your family and friends don’t share your delight! It helps if “Freddy” is a well-behaved dog that knows some manners. “Sit, Down, Stay, Wait, and Leave It” are the basics every dog should know. It is your responsibility to employ these manners with your dog in the same way you would expect your children to behave in public. Hopefully your dog is a joy to all he meets and a bother to no one. This is entirely up to you!

The following list will help you prepare for travel with your dog. These are the things you need at minimum to make your trip enjoyable and safe:
Tips for Traveling with your Dog
By Brenda Howard

Whether it’s a quick trip to your in-laws for the weekend, or a 7-day vacation, traveling with your dog can be fun – if you pre-plan. First, be aware that just because “Freddy” is the light of your life in the 4-legged department, many of your family and friends don’t share your delight! It helps if “Freddy” is a well-behaved dog that knows some manners. “Sit, Down, Stay, Wait, and Leave It” are the basics every dog should know. It is your responsibility to employ these manners with your dog in the same way you would expect your children to behave in public. Hopefully your dog is a joy to all he meets and a bother to no one. This is entirely up to you!

The following list will help you prepare for travel with your dog. These are the things you need at minimum to make your trip enjoyable and safe:

  1. Copies of your dog’s vaccination records. Records should include Rabies, Distemper/parvo, and Bordetella (to prevent canine cough). Your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccines.

  2. Flea and tick spray – even if your dog is on a monthly flea preventative, he may pick up a few unwelcome guests at roadside parks. Pyrethrum or Cedar Oil type products work well.

  3. A crate – sized to fit in your car for safe travel for you and your dog as well as a place for your dog to be once you are in your hotel room or in your in-laws home. The crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around and lay down. It does not need to be any larger.

  4. A retractable leash – used only when taking your dog on bathroom walks. Many dogs are uncomfortable eliminating too close to their person – a 6-foot leash won’t give them enough distance. Retractable leashes can easily malfunction and can literally cut the legs of others as they are made of string type material. You must be careful to keep this type of leash on lock at close distance if you want to keep your dog close to you.

  5. A 6-foot good quality leash. This is the leash of choice for most of the walking you will do with your dog. It will give you the best control and will not become a hazard (as the retractable leashes can).

  6. A food bowl and a water bowl. These need to be small enough that they can be placed in the crate. Your dog will eat his meals in the crate in many of the places you will stay. This keeps the unwanted mess contained in the crate!

  7. Bottled water. It’s a good idea to carry distilled drinking water with you throughout the trip. First, should you have a roadside emergency you and the dog may need water. Second, change of water gives some dogs upset stomachs.

  8. A small container of dish soap to wash the food and water dishes.

  9. A sealable container of dog food. If you will be gone for an extended time with your dog, you may be able to purchase food along the way – there are PetSmart stores in most major cities. If you feed a hard to find or rare brand of food, you should pack enough to last the trip.

  10. Snacks for your dog – again in sealable containers. These are useful for obedience work and training as you go!

  11. A flashlight for nighttime walks – useful when staying at hotels! We like the type that clips to the brim of your cap.

  12. A small safety kit for your dog. Consult your veterinarian as to what might be appropriate. We like to pack anti-diarrhea meds, antihistamines, pain medication, a basic antibiotic, vet wrap, antiseptic cleaner, small scissors, tweezers, and ophthalmic ointment and triple antibiotic ointment. If your dog is on any prescriptions pack them as well. Pre-packed canine first aid kits can be purchased at some pet stores and on line.

  13. Carpet and stain cleaner designed for removing pet accidents. Even though “Freddy” hasn’t had an accident in years, he may make a mistake in a strange place!

  14. Bags - plenty of them for picking up your dog’s stool after elimination. This is VERY important. Be a good citizen folks – do unto others as you would have them do unto you…. Do not leave a gift from your dog anywhere. Pick it up and dispose of it in an outdoor trash container.

  15. Rain gear for yourself – a light poncho. Walking the dog each and every time he needs to go will put you directly in the line of rain! You won’t be able to open the back door and send the dog out alone when you are at a hotel.

  16. Toys and chews to occupy your dog. These items are especially important to keep your dog quiet. Remember your dog should be a joy to all and a bother to no one! Toys that you can stuff cheese or peanut butter in keep most dogs busy for quite some time.

  17. A small travel/car vacuum is important to leave your hotel room dog hair free. If you have room for a lightweight full size vacuum that is even better! Even if you paid a deposit for your pet – be a good citizen and clean up after your dog!

  18. A king size sheet or two. The sheet should be placed over the bed(s) at the hotel if you plan to allow your dog to sleep on the bed and not in the crate. DO NOT allow your dog to lie on the hotel bedding!

  19. Air freshener –just because you think your dog smells fine – others might not!



Plan your trip ahead by checking with the hotels along the way to be certain they will allow dogs. Some hotels restrict the size of dog or the number of dogs allowed in a room. There are still many nice hotels that allow guests to bring dogs into the rooms. Please do all you can to assure hotels continue to welcome dogs.

Never ever leave your dog loose in a hotel room. If you are planning to take a side trip without your dog, see if a local boarding, doggie day care or vet’s office will board your dog during the day. If these are not available, you must crate your dog in the hotel room while you are gone.

As far as your in-laws are concerned, don’t go out of your way to give them any reasons to dislike you or your dog!


The information presented here is not intended to substitute for the advice and care of a veterinarian. Consult with your veterinarian regarding issues relating to your dog’s health.

blog comments powered by Disqus