So you are planning your vacation, and you think it would be great to include your favorite four-footed companion. Maybe…maybe not. A vacation with your dog can be an enjoyable bonding experience…or it can be your worst nightmare. It depends on many factors. The trip can be fun only if it will benefit both you and your pet, and adequate preparation is essential, not only to ensure a good time, but also for the safety of both the humans and canine involved. BEFORE planning a long trip, ask yourself whether or not your dog is in good health and will really enjoy the vacation. (Some vacations are more suitable for dogs than others.) It is important to consider how accustomed your dog is to the type of trip you will be taking. If traveling by car, make sure he is relaxed on long rides, and can settle down quickly, and if your vacation involves hiking, backpacking or extensive walking, it is essential that she is fit enough to handle your walking expectations. City holidays have become quite popular, but will probably require leaving the pet alone in a hotel for extended periods of time while you enjoy the shows and museums, and although many hotels and bed and breakfasts are pet-friendly, that doesn’t mean that your dog will be comfortable left alone most of the time in a strange place.
- Get a health check from your veterinarian prior to any vacation trip. If you are doing interstate traveling or using public transportation, a health certificate is required. Be sure to have an up-to-date copy of his records so any emergency veterinarian knows his background. If your dog needs medicines, be sure to fill any needed prescriptions ahead of time.
- Make sure your dog has proper identification. Two different forms of ID are suggested….a physical tag on his collar, and a microchip. (Dogs do get lost and collars and tags can be slipped). Be sure to have a clear photo of her with you, just in case!
- Make any reservations well ahead of time to find out specifically what is expected of you and your dog, so that you avoid any unpleasant surprises. Travelpets.com recommends booking a ground-floor room for easy access to the outside, and reminds travelers to keep dogs from eliminating on flowerbeds, manicured landscaping, and swimming in public pools—behavior that other guests do not appreciate.
- Some dogs only feel comfortable eliminating at home, so before you leave, spend a few weeks developing a potty cue. Whenever your dog is on the verge of eliminating, say a phrase like, “Get busy,” or “time to go”. When he’s done, praise him and give him a treat, so that by the time you hit the road, saying your cue should get him to do his business on demand.
- For a dog not comfortable with traveling, begin adjusting him several weeks in advance. Start with short rides to familiar locations, and as your dog becomes more comfortable, go on longer rides. (Like humans, some dogs suffer from car sickness, which can present major problems on a trip)
Vacations are wonderful (but usually hectic, sometimes stressful) times, and with careful planning, your dog can be a part of them, but your canine companion depends on you to make wise choices, and if you are not totally convinced that your dog would be a good traveling companion, it may be best to leave her home with a pet-sitter.