How to Travel with your Dog

Travel with your dog?

You’re not alone. As regular readers know, I travel often with my dogs. Several times a year I’ll load up the car or RV and we’ll go to the mountains, the beach, or inland from San Diego. I enjoy my dogs’ companionship and also love to watch their reactions to our adventures. For me, it enhances travel.

When I bought my RV a few years ago, the salesman said that half of all his sales were to dog owners who mentioned their dog (or dogs) when making their purchase.

Many surveys have been taken regarding traveling with dogs so I checked several of them out, including the AAA and Kurgo Pet Passenger Survey, the AAA and Best Western Survey, and the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) survey (United Kingdom). I also queried dog owners on social media for their traveling practices.

More Resources than Ever

Thanks to a variety of sources for travel information, traveling with dogs is easier today than it ever has been. The Fido Friendly magazine, GoPetFriendly.com and Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook are three references I use often in my travels. Fido Friendly lists pet friendly locations as well as numerous travel tips and other interesting pet information. The magazine is also available online and can be accessed from your phone. AAA’s book lists 13,000 places to stay that welcome pets from hotels to campgrounds. The increase in traveling pets hasn’t gone unnoticed. Many other publications, in print or online (such as GoPetFriendly.com, that target campers, RV-ers, and other travelers, also include pet information. Pet friendly hotel chains, including La Quinta, Best Western, and Motel 6, also promote themselves with pet owners.

Traveling By the Numbers

I have two dogs, both of whom travel with me. According to the NAWT survey, 30 percent of dog owners travel with two dogs while 52 percent bring one dog with them. About 11 percent bring three dogs and only 7 percent of dog owners bring more than three dogs. Granted, traveling with multiple dogs is more difficult, as my husband and I learned when we had four dogs. Many destinations (hotels and campgrounds) have limits on the number of dogs allowed; two being the most common limit. NAWT statistics show that 80 percent of dog owners in the UK secure the dog in some manner, although other surveys show that number is significantly lower in the U.S. My dogs travel in their crates, both in my car and in the RV. Crates are limiting, though, as the vehicle needs to be large enough for the crate while also leaving room for humans and luggage.

Another friend uses seat belt harnesses for both of her dogs. This is the most popular way of restraining dogs, as shown in the AAA and Kurgo survey results. Approximately 20 percent of dog owners use barriers across the back of the car and 20 percent of dogs ride unrestrained. (Percentages do not add up to 100 percent as some dog owners checked more than one restraint technique, and percentages varied by survey.)

©istockphoto/MOAimages

Packing for Dog Travels

Dog owners like to pack plenty of supplies for their dogs, and this makes sense. Bringing the dogs’ normal food will lessen the chances of an upset stomach and their normal bed will help dogs settle down. Some of the items most commonly mentioned by dog owners in my social media questionnaire include: dog food, water from home, food and water bowls, toys, a dog bed or crate, and insect (flea, tick, and mosquito) repellent of some kind. Owners also have the dog wear a collar with ID, bring a walking collar or harness, and bring more than one leash. I also carry a significant first aid kit. Friends who travel with me used to laugh at my kit, but when I have what’s needed for just about any emergency, they stop laughing. Many dog owners surveyed also mention first aid kits.

Other items mentioned include boots for dogs when camping or going somewhere with rough hiking surfaces, life vests when going in the water or aboard a boat, backpacks for dogs, sheets to cover hotel beds, grooming supplies, and dog treats. It seems as though I’m not the only dog owner who brings most of the canine comforts from home.

Frustrations

While traveling with dogs can be wonderful, many dog owners describe some frustrations. The most commonly mentioned frustration is the difficulty in finding destinations that allow dogs. Many said they normally don’t bring their dog along now but would if more facilities allowed dogs. Thankfully, some of the resources we have now are making this much easier. Another frustration is concerned with other dog owners not abiding by the rules of a campground, park, hotel or motel. Not picking up dog waste is a problem, as is allowing dogs off leash in an area where dogs are required to be leashed.

It’s Worth It!

Frustrations aside, dog owners say they enjoy traveling with their dogs and plan on continuing to do so. My puppy, Hero, is ten-months-old now and has traveled more than 6,000 miles. He’s a seasoned traveler and loves it.

©istockphoto/Anna-av

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.

Teaching a Reliable Come: Part 1
Why Your Pet Needs Professional Dental Cleaning