6 Ways to be a Considerate Traveler with Your Dog

Throughout the years my various dogs have gone camping, traveled in an RV, and stayed in B&Bs and hotels.

I like the added perspective that my dogs add to any journey; their awareness of the world around us and their joy in our adventures enhances my enjoyment. But I also make sure my dogs are not a nuisance to anyone else. They are my dogs and although I love them, I know some people can get annoyed.

Unfortunately, not all dog owners are as considerate and at times other dogs have been disruptive or a problem. To make sure you don’t spoil everyone’s enjoyment, follow these tips while traveling with your dog.

Make Sure Dogs are Welcome

When making reservations for travel, whether at a campground, RV park, hotel, or other destination, always verify that dogs are welcome. Do this even when a website or travel guide says that canines are welcome, because rules can change; dogs may have been fine when a travel guide was published and may not be welcome when you plan on stopping by.

Also check to see if there are any restrictions. Some places may allow dogs under 30 pounds, for example, or may have breed restrictions. One RV park I called for information had a long list of breeds not allowed. Needless to say, I bypassed that park. I’m not a fan of either type of restriction, but will be upfront as to the size of my dogs and what breed they are. I don’t want to set up camp and then be told to leave.

Make sure you ask how many dogs are allowed in a hotel room or at one campsite. I have two dogs and my friends who often travel with me also have dogs; is having multiple dogs a problem?

You can also talk to some people at your destination—if you’re honest with them, often some restrictions may be waived. For example, when making reservations at an RV park for a dog event last year, when I explained that our four dogs were well trained, were competing at a local (to the RV park) event, and that our dogs would not be left alone at any time, the two dog restriction was waived. In fact, when we showed up, we weren’t charged a dog fee at all as we were supporting a local event.

©istockphoto/dageldog

Always, Always, Pick Up After Your Dog

It’s amazing to me how many dog owners don’t pick up after their dogs. If you don’t pick up after your dog, who will? No one else should have to pick up after him. In talking to several hotel managers and campground rangers this past year about dog complaints, the number one complaint was about owners who didn’t pick up after their dogs.

I’ve been known to call in a loud voice as I wave a bag over my head, “Did you forget a bag? I have an extra one you can use!” Public shaming isn’t always the nicest way to solve it, but when too many people don’t pick up after their dogs then eventually dogs will be unwelcome—and that hurts everyone.

Control the Barking

Barking dogs was the second most common complaint reported to hotel managers and campground hosts and rangers. Interestingly enough, the people making the complaints were both other dog owners as well as people staying at a facility without a dog. Apparently no one likes barking dogs.

Dogs bark; it’s natural. However, just as some of us talk more than others, some dogs bark more than others. When traveling with your dog, it’s important to teach him how to be quiet. One or two barks, maybe, then, “Sweetie, that’s enough.” After all, no one travels and stays at a hotel or campground to hear someone else’s dog bark constantly.

If your dog tends to be a barker, talk to a dog trainer for some help preventing the barking. Start this training early enough so that you and your dog can practice prior to your planned adventures.

©istockphoto/ProjectB

Adhere to Leash Laws

The third most common complaint was about dogs being off leash when outside of a dog park or while in an area posted that dogs should be on leash.

The manager of a dog-friendly, four-star hotel in central California counted on his fingers, “One: Dogs off leash jump on people and ruin clothes. That makes people mad. Two: Dogs off leash knock kids down. That’s not appreciated either. Three: Dogs off leash relieve themselves away from their owners and then no one picks up after them. Four: Dogs off leash go up to leashed dogs and cause a problem.” He was quite emphatic; dogs off leash was a sore spot with him. He added that if even their best customer continues to let their dog run free they will be asked to leave and will not be welcome back to the hotel.

Leash laws are designed to keep all dogs safe, yours as well as other dogs. Adhering to them prevents a multitude of other problems.

Respect the Facilities

When you’re traveling, you’re staying at someone else’s place, be it campground, hotel, B&B, or other facility. I think it’s only polite to respect that hotel room or campground space.

When traveling at Thanksgiving last year, my puppy, Hero, had already traveled in the RV for many miles but hadn’t yet stayed in a hotel room. To prevent problems, I brought his crate into the hotel room and he spent each night in the crate. Plus, he was crated at those times when I couldn’t watch him, such as when I was in the shower. When I could supervise him, he had free time in the room. I also bring a king sized sheet with me to throw over the bed so when the dogs get up on the bed with me, they aren’t getting dog hair all over the bedding.

In campgrounds, I don’t let my dogs dig holes that future campers might trip in and I also take my dogs away from the camp site to relieve themselves.

In short, treat the facilities as you might want your home to be treated should someone visit.

Consideration Doesn’t Mean There’s No Fun

Being considerate of fellow travelers and the owners of the facilities you’re visiting doesn’t mean you can’t have fun traveling with your dog. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. When my dogs are well behaved and I think of my fellow travelers’ comfort as much as my own, I find myself enjoying the experience even more. I’m happy, my dogs are happy because I am, and I can smile and greet fellow travelers who are sharing their experiences with their well behaved dogs, too.

For additional tips and resources on traveling with your pet, be sure to check out GoPetFriendly.com. All the information you’ll want or need when traveling the US and Canada with your pet, you’ll find there.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to www.kindredspiritsk9.com.

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