What You Need to Know About Traveling With Your Dog

Updated on August 12, 2017
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I have been an animal lover all of my life and fondly remember, even after so many years, the joy that my pets brought into my life.

Traveling with your dog requires a great deal of effort and planning.
Traveling with your dog requires a great deal of effort and planning. | Source

If you plan to travel with your dog, there are several things you need to do to make sure you are giving him the best possible level of care.

These include overseeing his

  • safety,
  • health,
  • comfort,
  • feeding,
  • nurturing and
  • behavior.

This is no small task, so before you make the decision to take him with you, make sure you are willing to do whatever is necessary to give him the care he deserves.

Remember that although he will enjoy the excitement of doing something new and different, he also will not understand exactly what is going on, so there may be times when he becomes frightened and confused.

Thus, it is up to you to comfort him when necessary.

Care Varies With Types of Travel

The basic guidelines for providing care can vary somewhat depending on the mode of transportation you choose to take.

If you use any form of public transportation, you will have to abide by their guidelines, even though you may not like them or they may make your pet uncomfortable.

Most airlines, for example, require dogs to be placed in carriers that are kept in the belly of the plane during flight. This means you will have to decide whether to tranquilize your dog so that he won’t panic.

However, tranquilizers can be dangerous, so you’ll have to confer with your vet before you decide whether giving them to your dog is worth the risk to his health.

Decisions such as this one require you to set your priorities, but in doing so, it is only fair to place your dog’s well being above your personal desires.

If you travel by car or RV, you’ll still have to set priorities, but at least you can have your dog with you, and you can do so without having to worry about stuffing dangerous medications down his throat!

Keep Your Dog Safe

When traveling with your dog, there are many things you can do to keep him safe. They include but are not limited to the items on this list:

  1. Train your dog to obey voice and hand commands.
  2. Never leave your dog alone.
  3. Keep identifying information on him.
  4. Leash him.
  5. Use appropriate restraints.
  6. Keep him away from other animals.


The most important way for you to protect your dog is to make sure he is properly trained.

Few people take their pets to training classes because doing so is expensive and time consuming.

Fewer still have the knowledge or time to train their dogs themselves..

However, a dog that you are unable to control with voice or hand commands can become a major danger to himself, you and others.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone

If you plan to leave your dog alone in vehicles or hotel rooms during your vacations, you would do him a favor by leaving him at home.

Animals become frightened or resentful when you do this to them and can become quite destructive.

They can also injure themselves badly in the process.

Also, if their food or water runs out or if they have to relieve themselves, they can become quite upset and the stress can make them sick.

You may think it’s OK to leave them by themselves, but it isn’t. Please don’t do it!

Identify Your Dog

Sometimes dogs get lost or run away. To protect them, it’s a good idea to put identifying tags on them so that someone who finds them will know where to return them.

Tags also allow a new vet to have some of the information he may need in order to diagnose and treat your pet.

I like stainless steel dog tags because they allow you to put a great deal of information on them, are inexpensive and will serve your needs. In the past these are the tags my husband and I have used on our dogs, and have always been happy with them.

We did try the type that come in colors but found the engraving on them difficult to read.


Some people think it's fun to let their dogs run loose at rest stops or in other open areas, but the truth is that this can lead to injuries and even death.

I know, because one of my dogs died years ago as the result of my own stupidity when it came to leashing her. She was running free, ate some saw grass and died because the grass punctured her lung.


In 2012 several states quietly passed laws requiring people to secure their dogs when traveling in moving vehicles.

Many dog owners are not happy about the changes because they think it is ridiculous to ask people put seat belts on animals!

Although most would agree that allowing pets to travel unrestrained is dangerous, fewer than 20% actually take steps to limit the movement of their dogs while their vehicles are in motion.

However, now that these laws are already active in Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii and New Jersey, it is becoming obvious that people need to rethink their attitudes.

Two good reasons are that if they get caught breaking them, the fines will be significant, and if they ignore their responsibilities and then have an accident, both they and their dog could die!

The Best Dog Harness to Use

To avoid having this problem, and to stay legal, you should always use a proven dog restraint.

The best one I know of is the SleepyPod Clickit brand, and it is the one that I now use. It has been proven in crash tests to be the most well-designed and safest way to restrain your dog when your vehicle is in motion.

When I traveled with my dogs years ago, I always used some sort of restraint for them, but after watching a video that showed crash tests that involved 16 other brands of dog harness, I quickly switched to this brand and have informed friends and family that for safety’s sake they should do the same.


Sometimes pets get sick while traveling.

Problems can be anything from bee stings to ingesting foreign objects that damage intestines and require surgery.

If the problem seems to be serious, don't hesitate to see a local vet as soon as possible.

Under normal circumstances, the best way to protect your dog's health is to

  • make sure he gets plenty of exercise,
  • you vaccinate him before you leave home, and carry the certificates of proof with you when you go,
  • carry all of his flea, tick, heart worm and other medications, his medical history and his vet's phone number with you,
  • check daily for signs of travel stress such as refusal to eat or lack of energy and deal with these issues as needed,
  • if he gets sick, stop moving for a few days to give him time to recover. It's hard to get well when you're in a moving vehicle!

What you need to know about traveling with your dog.
What you need to know about traveling with your dog. | Source


Your dog is comfortable at home because he knows your living patterns, but traveling from one place to another is a totally different situation for him.

The best ways to keep him comfortable are to

  • provide him with a small bed that you bring with you from home,
  • give him plenty of water to drink,
  • feed him regularly with foods he is used to eating and
  • make sure he has some of his toys available

Hydration and Feeding

Hydration and good nutrition are actually more important for a dog when he is traveling than when he is home because of the energy he exerts due to excitement and stress.

For this reason you should maintain his normal feeding schedule and carry an ample supply of his every day food and treats so that you don't have to supplement his diet with scraps.

You should also keep plenty of water available for him.


Like humans, animals crave love and attention.

It's important to their well being that you hold, pet, talk to and play with them, rather than just having them "be there" for your own comfort.

Doing these things is fun and will be good for both of you!

Your dog did not ask to be taken on this vacation, so you owe it to him to make him feel as loved as possible.

A well trained dog can be a great traveling companion.
A well trained dog can be a great traveling companion. | Source

Good Behavior

You should always make it a point to practice good etiquette when in public.

  1. Clean up after him when he goes to the bathroom.
  2. Don't allow him to jump on people.
  3. Keep him from barking.

Traveling With Dogs Requires Effort

Vacationing with dogs can be a great deal of fun, but doing so requires a fair amount of planning, sacrifice and hard work.

For this reason, you need to make sure that you are willing to do all that is necessary to provide for his needs while you're on the road.

If you do what you need to do to provide the care your dog needs, you'll find that both you and he will have great and memorable times together while traveling.

Do you think traveling with your dog is worth the effort?

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