The number of dog-friendly hotels and restaurants is increasing. Our dogs have been welcomed in various hotels, BnB’s, shops, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants. It’s rather rare for them to get denied. If you want to travel with your dog and not miss out on the best spots, it’s important to follow some basic guidelines so your trip will be as relaxing for everyone involved.
1. Perfect planning and impeccable organisation
No last minute vacations when it comes to doggy travel. You need time to get those vaccinations in order and gather all the documentation you need.
Do your research when it comes to airline or train policies, dog-friendly places to stay and if there’s a vet nearby. Book your transport and accommodations well in advance so there are no surprises. Always mention your dog! Don’t think you’ll just sneak him in. There are enough dog friendly places on AirBnB. Even if you travel by car and you put your car on a train or boat at some point, make sure to add your dog to the ticket!
Something very important that most people don’t know about: not all dog breeds are welcome in every country. I will make another post about this soon, but for example Staffords and all that’s mixed Staff is not welcome in a lot of countries. In Eastern Europe there are even countries where all hunting dogs are prohibited, so don’t think you don’t need to look into this ’cause you have a sweet Golden Retriever. In some extreme cases they could go as far as euthanazing your dog! Better be safe than sorry.
2. Take a trip to the vet
Make sure your dog is microchipped, has a passport and all vaccinations needed. These are different for each country. For most places, they need to get shots for rabies, but for the UK for example they also need a special treatment against heartworm, which is different from normal worms. They need to get it within a specific timeframe so always double check to make sure you won’t be stopped by the border and your dog has to go into quarantine.
3. Prepare your dog
Is your dog well trained? Is he used to busy places, traffic, loud noises, children, other animals? If not, work on socialization before traveling abroad. If your dog has only been in the car for short trips to the vet, it might not be a good idea to go on a roadtrip from Canada to Texas… Let your dog slowly get used to long trips, new smells, sounds, people, …
3. Know your dog
This might be the most important rule of all. Know. Your. Dog. Some dogs love everything and everyone. They’re fine with whatever it is you want to do. Tokyo city centre? Lots of people who will pet me! Hiking in the Himalayan? Fun!! But not every dog is like that.
Dogs are just like us. You have introverts and extraverts and everything in between. Naya isn’t afraid of anything and loves being in the centre of attention. Duvel is shy and gets anxious in a crowd. I wouldn’t take him to a Times Square, because it wouldn’t be fun for anyone. If your dog loves his peace and calm, take him with you on holidays where you can explore nature together, but call a dogsitter if you’re planning on city hopping.
4. Prepare your dog’s suitcase
What do you need to put in your dog’s bag? Here’s a checklist.
5. Be a responsible dog owner
Keep your dog on a leash in public, use those poopiebags, muzzle him if he’s really reactive towards other dogs or people. It’s common sense, yet I can’t count the times people let their dog come close to Naya while I ask them to please keep them at a distance (she’s not very reactive but she will be when someone sniffs her butt without asking while she’s on the leash so she can’t get away).
6. Always keep an eye on your furry friend
Pay attention to your pooch. He might be used to crowded markets, but traveling leaves a lot of impressions. So many new smells, sounds, sights. Make sure he doesn’t feel overwhelmed or anxious. Suddenly walking around all day might be a big change from your daily half hour walk. Take a break if you feel like it’s a bit too much for your dog.
Make sure you always carry water with you and if it’s hot, put your hand on the pavement to feel if it’s not too warm for his paws. Dogs’ paws can get badly injured from walking on hot pavement. Warm, cold or just a lot of walking; use a balm to protect your dogs paw pads.
7. Plan fun activities
Keep your dog in mind when planning. Make sure your travel itinerary consists of fun things you can do together. Hikes, romantic walks on the beach, exploring nature, playdates with other dog owners, getting a puppuccino or doggie ice-cream. Retrievers will love to go swimming with you. Huskies will gladly accompany you snowboarding and so on!
8. Implement your routine
Travel means a new environment and a lot of changes. Try to maintain your home routine as much as possible when it comes to feeding hours, the food itself, walks. Dogs thrive on a good routine and keeping things as normal as possible will help avoid anxiety.
9. Learn first aid for dogs
This is something I believe every dog owner should do, whether you’re traveling or not. We try to take a doggy first aid course every two years to keep it fresh in our memory. Knowing some first aid might just save your dog’s life! Try to find a place where you can bring your dog to practice or at least practice on a dummy.
10. Don’t lose your dog!
This might sound obvious and I’m sure it’s every dog owner’s worst nightmare, but you’d be surprised at the number of dogs that goes missing. This is even worse when you’re in a foreign location, because there’s no way your dog will find his way back home.
All of our dogs have a tag with their name, mine, my phone number (with country code!) and address on it. Don’t let your dog off leash unless he really can’t go anywhere or has an extremely good recall.
Make sure his harness or collar fits correctly and is still in good shape so your dog can’t escape. For this reason, we always use a harness. They can’t get out of it. We also put a collar, that way the harness definitely can’t go over their head. They have a tag on both. Call me overly cautious, but I don’t want to take any risks when it comes to their safety.
Make sure the information on their microchip is up to date and last but not least: when putting your dog in the car, only take off their leash when they’re safely buckled.
Basically you should act the same way as you would at home, but with more caution. Remember that at home, you know everything and everyone. So does your dog. Give him time to adapt, be there for him when he needs you, pay even closer attention to him than you usually would.
Don’t let this list discourage you from traveling with your pet! I can assure you it’s the most rewarding thing and our best travel memories are those we share with them. Once you’re used to taking your pooch with you, you’ll miss him whenever you’re gone without him!
Are there more things you believe should be added to this list? Please share with us in the comments!
*The pictures in this article were all taken in Venice, the dogs are wearing cooling vests. We put Yoda in a backpack that is especially designed for dogs when she gets tired. She loves it!