Travel Petiquette: How to Make a Good Impression when Traveling with Your Dog

Taking off with your canine companion?

When you’re visiting friends or relatives and bringing your dog along, here are some etiquette rules to follow so everybody ends up happy and relaxed.

Make Sure Fido Smells Nice

“No matter how clean and nice you think your dog is, before a stay at someone’s home, it is critical that your dog be clean and smell clean,” says Sally Morgan, a holistic physical therapist for pets and people. “You can take him to the groomer or do it yourself, but in any case, he should have a bath and a thorough brushing prior to a visit,” Morgan adds. “I have a Corgi who sheds a lot, and I find that keeping up with twice daily brushing for at least a week before travel, really reduces the fur he leaves in someone’s house.”

Groom Before You Go

For a heavy shedder, it might also be a good idea to bring a brush with you and continue to brush him while traveling—just make sure you do it outside the house so you don’t leave strands of dog’s hair everywhere in your host’s home.

“It’s also important to minimize doggie smells, so using a product to keep the breath fresh and teeth clean, and making sure there is no ear infection or other medical issues causing smells, are considerate when traveling with a pet,” Morgan says.

Keep Your Dog Under Control at all Times

As a general rule, you should always keep your dog on a leash until the owner of the house gives you the ok to remove it. “When dogs come into a new home with new smells and places to explore, they tend to get very excited and wander all around,” says Lynette Whiteman, MS, Executive Director of Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey and a pet therapy program that visits with the elderly. “They can jump on counters, take food, jump on furniture.”

In addition, keeping your dog on a leash can prevent some uncomfortable moments. “Just because your dog is welcome, doesn’t mean your friends/family want your dog wandering wherever all over their house,” says Jaime Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue. “Not to mention this could be dangerous if the homeowners have kids with small toys (choking/ obstruction hazard), or even other dogs.”

Check What Areas Are Off Limits

While you might be fine with your dog jumping on the couch or bed, this isn’t acceptable for everybody, so check with the homeowner before you allow it.

It’s also good manners to bring a clean bed for your dog to use, either as a place to be safely out of the way, or for actual sleeping, says Morgan. “I offer, and usually bring, my own set of sheets and blankets if I plan to have the dog in my bed, or at the very least a top sheet for my dog to be on top of the bed, so that I bring the hair home with me,” Morgan says.

Bring a Doggie Kit

“When packing for your dog, don’t forget to bring your own bowls for food and water and a towel or mat to put underneath,” says Whiteman. “Ask where your dog should be fed and be polite about preparing food,” says Lynette. Some people get skeeved out if you put dog bowls on countertops.”

Whiteman also recommends bringing towels and a special dog-cleaning product in case of any accidents. “Even if your dog is house trained, going to a new environment can get them off track and you want to be prepared,” she explains.

What else to pack? Morgan suggests extra towels to wipe up paws after a rainy walk, rolls of paper towels and chemical free cleaners. “I bring lint rollers for furniture and clothes as well,” says Morgan. “A nice gift is to let the person know how grateful I am for their generosity in allowing my pet to come along.”

Keep Your Dog Busy

New environments can be stressful for dogs, so it’s important that you take him out regularly to burn off extra energy—especially if you have a dog who’s a barker. “If you do have a barking dog, make sure before you go to ask about neighbors, as apartment complexes are not always receptive to a barking guest dog every time someone goes up the steps in the hallway,” says Morgan. “And bring lots of great toys and treats to keep your dog focused so that he does not choose to bark at the unfamiliar sounds.”

Be Considerate

“The first rule of taking your dog anywhere: always pick up your dog’s waste in the yard, whether or not they ask you to do so,” says Thomas. “Also, do not bring a dog who is coughing, has diarrhea, or is otherwise exhibiting some symptom of illness,” Thomas adds. “Whether or not you think they are fine. This is how kennel cough and other viruses spread.”

For additional tips and resources on traveling with your pet, be sure to check out From pet-friendly hotels and campgrounds, to beaches and off-leash parks where your dog can run, to veterinarians and pet supply stores (even restaurants and wineries where your pooch is welcome to join you), lists it all!

Meet the Author: Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at

Building a Dog Friendly Backyard
Why Is Your Pet Afraid of a Particular Gender?