As I continue to recover from the thousands of miles I logged since June, I wanted to share Part 2 of my Top 10 Tips for Enjoying Traveling with Dogs!
6) Stay at dog-friendly places. Some hotels wanted my business this summer, some gave us a lukewarm reception, and others made it clear we were not welcome. I always plan ahead to find a pet-friendly hotel while on the road. Two websites that I use to find hotels are Dog Friendly and Pets Welcome. I often use Google Maps or Mapquest to get an aerial view of the hotel to make sure there is room to walk the dogs on the property.
Be sure to check online listings or call the hotel to find out if there are limitations or extra fees for pets. Pet fees can be insanely expensive, so be sure to ask before you commit.
7) Train before (and while) traveling. A little obedience training before and during traveling goes a long way. For me, trips are opportunities to train my dogs a minute or two at a time. The three critical behaviors my dogs need for traveling are:
a. Come. I am extra cautious at out-of-town dog parks and rest areas, since a lost dog in an unfamiliar area is a recipe for disaster. But no matter how careful you are, there is always a chance your dog will get away from you. This summer, I fell while walking the dogs when they bolted after a rabbit. The leashes came out of my hand and both dogs were loose in a parking lot. I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I was when they came when I called them. Calamity averted!
b. Stays at doors. Traveling is all about ins and outs–in and out of cars, in and out of hotels, in and out of dog parks. Dogs that wait at doors will be much safer than those who bolt through any opening. I teach this first at home and then use trips to reinforce it with lots of treats. These skills only take a minute to train but pay huge dividends while traveling.
c. Quiet. Quiet dogs are a pleasure while barking dogs are incredibly stressful for all concerned when traveling. I teach a “quiet” command at home and then reinforce it during a dog’s early trips so by the time they are a little older, we all travel in peace. If your dog barks a lot, consider a bark collar before an upcoming trip since they are much more effective than we are at delivering perfectly timed corrections for barking.
8) Think safety. Just because a place allows dogs, does not mean it is safe. In my travels, I’ve experienced a range of dangerous situations from stray dogs to rat poison to an alligator (!) pond right outside my hotel room door.
When I check into a hotel, I always leave my dogs in the van while I check the room. I turn on the air conditioning, put bed sheets from home on the hotel bedspreads, lower toilet lids in case there are cleaning chemicals in the water, pick up trash cans, and check under the furniture for items my dogs might discover. I fill a water bowl and put my dogs’ toys, chew items and mats in the room before bringing them inside.
9) Bring the dog’s stuff, too. We traveled a lot when I was a kid since my dad was in the Army. My mom always packed special things for the trip—fun games, favorite books, yummy treats. I do the same for my dogs so in addition to the normal stuff–food, bowls, leashes, collars–I bring things to make the trip fun and comfortable for them. Here are some extras that I bring along:
a. Toys—I stuff a shopping bag with old favorites and a few new toys
b. Chew items—I bring a variety of these and many more than the dogs would get at home so they can while away the hours in the car and have something safe to occupy themselves wherever we are staying. I bring marrow or knuckle bones, bully sticks, pigs ears, stuffed Kongs and more.
c. Training treats—since trips are great training opportunities, I keep treats at hand in the car, hotel rooms and my pockets
d. Sleeping mats—I use packable sleeping mats to make new places more familiar and comfortable for my dogs
e. Water—I bring a few jugs of water from home to help my dogs transition to the taste of water on the road
10) Have fun! I love traveling with my dogs and hope that you will to if your dog enjoys the car, exciting places and new people. Although traveling with dogs requires some planning and forethought, you can easily fit it into your plans if you follow these tips. I have taken my dogs (and cats) all over the US, Canada and Europe. Sharing these adventures with my dogs has been a gift!
What is the most exciting place you have been or plan to go with your dog? And what is your best tip for making the trip more fun? Send me a comment below.