Road Trip! Traveling With Your Dog
Boarding a pet or having a dog sitter come to your home can add a significant cost to your vacation. And besides, Fluffy would love the beach! But how do you travel safely and easily with a dog in the mix?
Before You Go:
Take a good hard look at this decision. Is Fluffy really a good traveling companion? Let’s go through a quick checklist to determine how travel-hardy she really is.
• How does Fluffy do with changes in her routine, diet, sleeping arrangements and level of activity? Some dogs, just like some humans, can develop diarrhea from changing water, food or activity levels. Think it through – is Fluffy constitutionally adaptable and relaxed enough to roll with the inevitable punches traveling will entail?
• How about temperament? Is Fluffy good-natured enough to handle being around lots of strangers most of the time? How does she handle stress? Is she well socialized and easy-going? How does she do with the type of people you’re likely to be around for this vacation (Will there be lots of children? Elderly folks? Strangers? Will you be in crowds? Or alone on secluded beaches?)?
• Is this a dog-friendly adventure? Whether you’ll be shopping in New York City or kayaking on the Snake River, you need to determine if this trip really meets Fluffy’s standards of dog-friendliness. Will Fluffy’s basic needs for exercise, rest, food, water and safety be met at all times? If this just isn’t the right trip to try traveling with the Fluffster, try it next time on a more canine appropriate adventure.
Start making a list: traveling with a dog means you’ll have lots of extra items to remember to bring along. Collect Fluffy’s relevant paperwork: assume that everywhere you go you’ll need to show proof of rabies vaccinations at the very least, and possibly other health records will be required. Along these lines, make sure you have copies of Fluffy’s medical records to bring with you, just in case you need to see a vet while you’re away. Rather like children, pets have a way of coming down with mystery ailments at the worst possible moments: having her accurate medical information at your fingertips could save you time and worry.
Before you make hotel or motel reservations, ask questions. Not only about permitting pets, but also about all the fine print issues you should expect. Where should you deposit waste baggies? Are there extra charges to anticipate? An additional “security deposits,” cleaning fees, or other such payments? Some “pet-friendly” accommodations actually offer pet beds and doggy day care services!
Have you considered a campground? Many “car camping” facilities welcome well-behaved, leashed pets, although many state park facilities do not permit dogs at all. Some private campgrounds even have rustic cabins and offer a relatively low cost alternative to hotel accommodations with many dog and child friendly amenities.
If you’re going to be on the move, staying in a number of different places, you might want to be sure to have lightweight and easily packable supplies: dog beds, dog bowls, leashes, collars and so on can be fold-up and packable. Check stores that stock camping supplies for lightweight options.
Be a Good Guest
One of the most important aspects of traveling with your dog is the PR campaign you’re inadvertently conducting for all travelers with pets. Be a good guest and make sure Fluffy is a good guest; it’s more than just etiquette, it’s helping make sure that pet friendly accommodations will be there the next time you need them.
• Keep it clean indoors. Bring with you lots of extra towels for wiping feet, drying off, covering up… you name it. Extra sheets too, to use as slipcovers on hotel furniture will help keep it clean.
• Bring what you need: have your supplies on hand. Don’t expect that others will be willing or able to provide whatever you may have forgotten at home. Travel fully stocked with food, treats, medications, toys… you name it.
• Keep it even cleaner outdoors. Probably the number one reason why dogs are not permitted many of the places they end up banned, from beaches to gardens, has to do with Number Two. Have plenty of collection bags with you at all times and dispose of waste appropriately.
• Don’t leave Fluffy unattended, at all, anywhere. Alone in a strange place, Fluffy could easily engage in behaviors that she would never dream of at home: barking, pacing, bathrooming accidents, chewing and even panicking and attempting to (or worse succeeding in) escaping. Of course this includes the car: never leave a dog unattended in the car.
All this sounds like a lot of work, and let’s face it, it might be easier to leave Fluffy behind. Just remember, if you plan carefully and thoroughly, the possibility exists for a fun vacation for all! And the photos and memories will be worth the hassles!