Planes, Trains and Automobiles
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … This can be what traveling with your dog becomes.
Traveling can be a joy for everyone in the family, including the dog, if you prepare appropriately. Basic training is your best foundation for a happy, safe relationship with your dog. Reliable training at home can be tested on a trip because there will be unfamiliar locations, sights, sounds, sights, smells, and people. If you have any doubts about your dog’s behavior, contact a trainer well in advance of your departure date.
Basic manners should include:
- Strong recall – your dog will come back to you in virtually any situation
- Wait at doors – can be used for getting in/out of hotel rooms, cars, tents, or trailers
- Quiet – reduce barking in campsites, hotel rooms and in your car
- Watch me – getting your dog’s attention with any distraction
- Settle – help your dog learn to relax on cue to reduce anxiety
- Sit – be able to get your dog to hold a place
- Crate training – this is vital for your dog’s safety when traveling
If your dog has not been crate trained, you should buy an airline-approved crate months before your departure. It should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down easily while inside. An approved crate is the only way your dog can travel on most commercial airlines. As soon as you know you’ll be taking your dog, check with the carrier for their rules on pet travel. A crate is also the safest way for your dog to travel in any vehicle, cars included. In the event of an accident, a crate gives your pet the most protection. Crate training can be scary for your dog, if not approached and trained properly. There are links below for help on how to achieve it successfully.
Your Dog’s Perspective
New locations can be quite unnerving for your dog. Homes of friends or family, hotel and motel rooms, campsites or trailer parks all may be perceived as something demanding attention to your dog. Safe and effective training, however, can overcome many of these. Consider these different viewpoints of the same situations.
Person: We’ll stay in that motel tonight.
Dog: Grrr. There are sounds coming from the ceiling.
Solution: Train dog to Settle and be Quiet.
Person: I can feed the dog from the same dish as my friend’s dog
Dog: This dish smells like that other dog!
Solution: Train dog to Sit and hand feed.
Person: I can’t wait to see all the kids!
Dog: Holy cow these people are short, loud and smell like jelly! Do they ever stop moving?
Solution: Put your dog in a crate where he will feel safe and protected until everyone settles down.
Person: Listen to nature!
Dog: What moved in that tree over there?!
Solution: Train dog to Sit, Stay & Watch Me.
Person: It will be good to see the farm.
Dog: Cow? What’s a cow?!
Solution: Train dog to Come and Watch Me.
As was said earlier, traveling can be fun for the whole family if consideration is given to the needs of the whole family, the dog included.
* Note * Medication
Some dogs may travel better while under medication. This is a decision that should be made with your veterinarian. If medication is necessary, work with your vet and your dog to train your dog to take the medication in the form prescribed.
Safety in the Car
- There are some guidelines you should follow when riding with your dog in the car.
- While dogs may really enjoy hanging out the window when the car is in motion, this is not a good idea because there is a risk of the dog getting dust, dirt, or other projectiles in his or her eyes, or he or she can hurt themselves if you stop short or come up to close to a building or pole.
- You should never hold your dog on your lap while driving. Not only is this distracting to you, but if you are involved in an accident this is a very dangerous position for the dog to be in.
- Dogs that become reactive or stressed in the car often do better if they can ride inside of a crate in the car. This keeps your dog safe and allows him to feel comforted in an enclosed space. Another option to secure your dog is to use dog seatbelts, which keep your dog from being jettisoned into the front of the car if you have to stop quickly or if you have an accident. This is dangerous not only for the dog but for you as well since the impact of a dog hitting you can cause serious injuries to yourself.
- Never let a dog ride in the back of a pickup truck even if the dog is restrained or in a crate. If your car hits a bump in the road or gets into an accident or even turns to quickly, this could lead to serious injuries to the dog.
General Travel Tips
- HSUS Preparing Your Pets for Travel – Supplies
- HSUS Tips for Safe Travel with Pets
- HSUS What You Need Before You Travel with Pets
- Pet Travel Center
Air Travel Tips
- ASPCA Air Travel Tips
- HSUS Caring for Pets When You Travel by Air
- HSUS Video on Safe Air Travel
- Southwest P.A.W.S. Program
- Jet Blue’s JetPaws Program
- Information on pet travel for all airlines
- Pet Airways – an airline for pets
- Flying with pets
- Expert tips for the first-time pet flier
- International Pet Travel Rules
Car Travel Tips
- HSUS Traveling by Car with Your Pets
- HSUS Dogs and Pickup Trucks Don’t Mix
- ASPCA Car Travel Tips
- ASPCA Automobile Safety
- A new “dog friendly” car
- Bark Buckle Up – Travel safety tips
Ship or Train Travel Tips
Boating With Your Dog
If you’re taking to the water with your furry friend, here are some tips to ensure that you’ll both have a fun day.
- Not all dogs can swim but even if your dog can he should have on a life vest in case he falls overboard. Give your dog a chance to walk around with the vest as well as an opportunity to practice swimming with it.
- Some dogs won’t enjoy boating right away. You should let your dog acclimate to his surroundings while you’re still tied to the dock, before you venture out. On the other hand, if your dog is really excited about being on the boat it’s a good idea to keep him on leash so he doesn’t jump overboard.
- Turn on the engine or slowly set the sail to get your dog familiar with the sites and sounds of boating.
- If you’re going to let your dog swim, you should attach a special ramp to your boat, so he can get on and off your boat with ease.
- Don’t forget to provide your dog with a shady place to get away from the hot sun and make sure you bring plenty of fresh water for your thirsty dog too.
So, whether you’re fishing or just going for a cruise, spending a day on the water with your best friend can be a great bonding experience for the both of you.