Should you bring your dog along?
We say a big yes to this one! Unless your dog is sick, injured or pregnant, we're sure your pooch will want to go where you go. There are, however, a few things to consider when you're thinking about a pet-friendly vacation...
Some dogs might find travel upsetting - when their routine is disrupted, there might be a tendency to get over-excited or emotionally upset or they might suffer from motion sickness. Will this be a fun trip for your dog? Perhaps not if he winds up staying cooped up in a hotel room while you're in business meetings all day. In these kinds of cases, then maybe looking for the perfect person to look after him while you're away might be the best way forward, and we'll talk about that a little later.
Depending on where your travels are taking you and how you're getting there, it's a good idea to make sure you research the location's rules and policies regarding animals, such as quarantine laws and pet transport restrictions. You should also let your hotel know you have Fido in tow and confirm that they do indeed welcome animals. Then, before you go, take a trip to the vet to make sure your dog's fit to travel. having a health certificate stating that he is healthy, able to travel and that all necessary vaccinations are up to date is a great idea. Also, if you've not already done so, it might be a good idea to have him micro chipped just in case he decides to do some of his own sightseeing.
Before the trip, make sure you have all the supplies you're going to need - replacement leashes, lunch boxes for dogs, dog backpacks, water bottles, favorite toys, blankets, canine flotation devices and of course plenty of balls! Everything your dog will need to be happy and safe on his travels.Also, just to be on the safe side, be prepared for every eventuality and locate an emergency veterinarian in the area before your trip. It's a good idea to make sure you have the details with you at all times just in case.
Time to go!
Ok, so you've decided to bring him along - after all, there's just no way you could ever leave your best friend behind! You've done your forward planning and you've made sure your dog's every need is catered for - not just while traveling, but once you reach your destination. You definitely want to make sure that your time together is nice and relaxing.
To crate or not to crate...
Most dogs feel very safe in their crate so it's often a great travel option whether you travel by air or car. It used to be that crating a dog in a car was the only way to prevent him from moving around in a vehicle causing a distraction and preventing him from becoming a projectile if you needed to stop quickly. These days, however, there are some great dog safety harness options that do the job. Sleepypod's Clickit Sport is a great harness for dog travelers and has passed crash testing with flying colors. Definitely worth a look!
If you do decide to go the crate route, it's important to make sure your dog has been exercised prior to the trip and that the crate doesn't have anything inside it that could cause him harm. It's a good idea to keep food and water to a minimum before you leave, just in case, but be sure to give him a well-deserved high-protein small snack when you take a break. A little walk is always a good idea too, but remember, if you do need to leave your dog in the car (something we really don't recommend), make sure it's not warm outside. Even with a window open, a car can soon turn into an oven and cause your dog to become dehydrated or worse.
Be sure to carry water and ice in containers for rest stops. We've got some great travel bowls that will make feeding and watering your pooch on the road a breeze. Window shades on back and side windows are a good idea if you're headed to sunnier climes, and if your dog is prone to car sickness, be sure to ask your veterinarian for suitable remedies.
Taking to the air...
If you're flying with Fido, make sure you talk to the airline in advance so you know exactly what their requirements are - you definitely don't want any last minute surprises! Make sure you find out if they will require a health certificate and which airline approved pet crates they accept for example. If you will be crating your dog, it's always a good idea to make sure he's used to it before the big day! Just like in a car, it's best for dogs to travel on an empty stomach, so don't feed him right before the trip and make sure that, while he does have access to water, it's just enough to keep him hydrated. It's always a good idea to take along your dog's favorite toy or blanket to comfort him and keep him nice and calm. While we don't advocate "drugging" your pooch while he travels, you could always try a little calming spray.
Lots of major hotels have changed their attitude towards animals in recent years and there are so many choices when it comes to dog-friendly hotels and vacation rentals out there! Many of them will even recommend dog-friendly activities you and your furry friend can enjoy together. When it comes to dog parks there are so many options these days - as well as the great outdoor versions, there are now unleashed indoor dog parks in many locations so bad weather doesn't have to curtail your activities. When you arrive at your hotel, it's a good idea to take your dog for a nice, calming walk before going to your room and when you do go in, be sure to check out the space thoroughly so you can alleviate any not so dog-friendly items that might be lying around. If your dog tends to bark, don't leave him alone in your hotel room, but if you do, be sure to let the front desk know.
Dogs do tend to do best with some kind of routine so even though you're away from home, be sure to provide regular walks, playtime, access to fresh water at all times and the same kind of food he's used to eating at home if possible so as not to upset his stomach.
Can't bring Fido along?
Then you need to find the perfect dog sitter!
There are certainly some great options out there these days, but our favorite one is actually having someone you trust come into your home to look after your precious pooch. We used Trusted Housesitters a few years ago and now will never consider anything else. Not only did Simon and Rocky have an amazing time (we have the pictures to prove it!) but we made life-long friends in the process.