Toni is a strong believer in enjoying life with family and friends—appreciating the little things and acknowledge blessings with gratitude.
My First Trip With Pet Chihuahuas
Let me introduce the three stars of this story (photographed from left to right below): Louie (The Toothpick) Cujo, Sassy (The Diva) Sassafras and Crazy Boy Champ (The Chewin' Chihuahua). Louie and Champ are three years old and experiencing their first road trip ever. Sassy is 13 years old and a world traveler who belongs to my travel buddy, Martha. This would be the first time traveling with all the dogs and we hoped Sassy would teach them well.
I had a lot of anxiety regarding their first road trip and wanted to be well prepared—for them and me. I researched how to travel with pets including all the pet traveling tips I could find, including pet-friendly hotels, while preparing to take a trip that was only two hours from home. They love to ride in the car, but the extended length of time on the road and a hotel stay was heading into unknown territory.
Would Champ, who has the nickname "Chewin' Chihuahua" for a reason, be all right if left alone in the hotel room, if just for an hour while out at the pool? Or would I come back to a chewed up bedspread or scratched up carpet?
I learned a lot on this trip about how to travel with my dogs, beginning with booking a pet-friendly hotel, dog-proofing the car, packing dog travel accessories, making safe pit stops. The arrival at the hotel would only bring another set of lessons.
Basically, you could call this their dog vacation. Martha and I were only along as chauffeurs, cooks, dog walkers, and tour guides. Perhaps you should have your dog(s) present when reading this as they may have something to add.
Packable Dog Playpen (The First Thing I Packed)
I had purchased a dog playpen when Louie and Champ came to my home at six weeks old. Louie (the little one) was experiencing a failure to thrive and I had to nurse him around the clock. I did find that a syringe was perfect for food and water feeding every couple of hours.
I also purchased two dog beds to put inside it with blankets, food, and water. They were so tiny in the beginning that it must've felt like living in a mansion to them.
I still have the dog playpen (three years later) and decided that was the first thing to pack in learning how to travel with my dogs. It was foldable and it would keep them safe in the hotel room. Even though we would put a "Do Not Disturb" on the door while briefly away, I would feel good knowing they were safe inside.
This was one of the best purchases I made for my chihuahuas' introduction to their new home. They have always felt safe inside. I no longer zip it up at night because after three years, they don't sleep in it anymore. They mainly just hang out in it now or when there's company, they feel really safe in it.
Want to guess where they sleep now? Either in bed with me or the beds I bought for them upstairs in my room. Below is a picture of the dog playpen kennel that I use. It's highly recommended.
How to Travel Safely With Your Dog
The Dogs Are Chipped and Collared
Louie and Champ are chipped and I packed the information into my suitcase in case it would be needed. But my greater concern was them getting loose somehow and wandering off; so I wanted contact information readily available.
I put a black bandana collar around their neck and used a silver paint pen to write my cell phone number on one side and my home number on the reverse. If you look closely in the first picture, you can see the black bandana (especially on the little one, Louie). Champ's is turned around on his back.
Dog Car Seats and Hammocks: Car Safety for Your Pet
You may notice in the opening picture above that I have a dog car hammock in the back seat of the car. It was important to me that if I had to stop fast, the little ones wouldn't fall forward and off the seat. I was concerned about my dogs' safety while traveling in the car. You may prefer a dog car seat, but I liked the idea that they could lay out and sleep during most of the trip.
This recommended dog car hammock hooks up to your headrests. They are really easy to snap and unsnap. I added a blanket on the bottom to add cushion and comfort. There are pockets that I keep bags to pick up after them. I place a tubberware bowl of water snuggly between the back of the two front seats. Under the hammock and on the bottom of the back floor, I keep their bag of food and treats.
What I Learned About Pit Stops
- Do NOT pull into a truck stop for gas, bathroom, or snacks and let your pet out. When you do pull over, find an isolated spot where the dogs can get in and out of the car safely.
- Rest areas are the best for potty breaks and a little exercise.
- Water is essential. Your pet may stress during the trip and will need to drink extra water.
What to Consider
There are many choices regarding pet-friendly hotels; including pet charges, whether it's one rate for all or an individual pet charge. You should also check if there is a pet deposit and if it's refundable.
Something else I learned was the maximum weight of a dog. Some hotels only allow animals up to a certain weight. That's actually a plus if you have a small dog. I found walking our chihuahuas among larger breeds can be stressful. If you don't know, chihuahuas have attitudes that they can take on any dog, especially the big ones. So, if you have a smaller animal, you may wish to find a pet-friendly hotel that limits the size of the dog.
Note: I did not leave them alone from check-in throughout the first night. However, that night in the hotel, Champ would not sleep. He sat in an alert position next to me and stared at the door all night long. Poor little guy. He did relax on the second night. After that, it was their party and we were the guests.
Walking Your Dog
Beware of New Surroundings
Keep your eyes open for wild or loose animals; including birds of prey such as owls, falcons, and hawks.
We had quite an adventure with a wild raccoon. Luckily, someone spotted it and yelled "Possum!" Actually, I think it was Martha. But, whoever it was, it was a good warning for dog walkers. It turned out the raccoon was more scared of us than we were of him and took off running.
Take Long Walks and Tire Them Out
Walking our dogs on long strolls was relaxing and enjoyable for everyone. A benefit was it also tired them out. So, even though they advise not to leave dogs alone in the room, we put them in the dog playpen where they were safe and sound. They had their beds, food, and water and were truly exhausted. That's when we would leave shortly for dinner or to swim and spa. We always put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.
Traveling With Your Pet
Dog Vacation Comes to an End
The dogs handled it all very well. Most of the time they were with us. As the days and night went on, I did leave them alone a little longer each time. We went out for dinner and lounged at the pool and spa. But the dogs were with us when we'd go for a walk and throughout the property. They'd also hop in the car when we'd go out sightseeing.
Mainly, this was a test run for Champ and Louie. I think they're going to make great road dogs. Sassy taught them well. Now, we're back home taking our daily walk in the neighborhood. Excited about our next adventure.
Road Warrior Update
The travelin' trio have been on many vacations since their first road trip. They have become great traveling dogs and now know what's expected—and so do I. It was important to be prepared for their first time as it set the example for following trips. They are now trained and love to travel. As soon as I start packing up their dog play pen, they know what's in store and get very excited. They're great traveling companions and I hope you enjoy your pet as much as I do mine.
Questions & Answers
Question: Could I travel with a 12-day-old puppy?
Answer: That's very little information. How long will you be traveling? How are you traveling? Will the mother accompany the puppy? How much attention can you give the puppy during the journey? With such little information, I would suggest against it. At twelve days, it's still just a newborn. You should consult with your vet, as your puppy would probably need shots to travel, and even then it's too young for them at this time.
© 2013 TL Stahling
What Tips or Advice Will You Share About Traveling With Your Pet?
KiwiSanet on June 03, 2013:
My mom has a Chihuahua, Sydney Silky cross. He gets carsick sometimes so we do not give him much food before we go on a trip. I also take rawhide sticks for him to chew on and a food-dispensing toy for the times he has to entertain himself.