Pet Vacation Preparation: How to Travel with a Dog Safely


We all know those sad, puppy dog eyes and low whimper have the power to break even the strongest resolve. Trying to leave man’s best friend behind before embarking on a long trip can be a little heartbreaking. 

According to a report by Rover, 37 percent of dog owners have decided not to travel in order to stay at home with a pet instead. 

Don’t cut your vacation plans short! Why not take the entire family? Traveling with pets is stress-free when you know how. 

With these tips, you can discover how to travel with a dog for a tail-wagging good time!

1. Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t make it more difficult for your pet by dragging them into an unfamiliar experience. That’s like asking them to shake without showing them how in the first place! 

Instead, practice before your big trip by taking your pet out on small, short outings. Let them grow familiar with their travel crate and being away from the familiar environment of the home. 

With each outing, go a little further outside your radius, and stay out a little longer. This will help them adjust when it’s time for a long flight or drive.

These little practice trips will also help you discover problems that might arise during your big trip.

As a result, you’ll be prepared and know how to travel with pets on the day of your trip.

Before your trip, be sure to make a quick stop to the vet’s, too. They can provide additional advice, make sure all vaccinations are up to date, and help you prepare for any emergencies. 

This can include exposure to new (and toxic) plants, parasites, and grabbing a copy of your pet’s vaccine history before air travel.

2. Take a Pre-Trek Walk

Give your pet one last chance to stretch their legs before boarding your flight. It can help both you and your dog to release any pent up energy before you’re both in travel mode.

That way, your pet will spend the trip resting —not barking. 

See if there are any areas nearby for a quick run or game of catch. With your pet exhausted and in a good mood, the trip will feel a lot more relaxed for you both.

3. Buy a Doggone Good Crate

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 60 million US households own a dog. This increase over the years has also resulted in an increase in helpful, innovative tools to make traveling with pets a little easier. 

The right crate should help your dog feel secure and comfortable. A good crate should allow them to sit, stand, and move around without strain.

When you practice traveling with your pet, help them grow accustomed to behaving in their crate as well. This way, there won’t be any surprises for them on the day of your trip.

With a dog crate divider, you don’t have to worry about your pup-in-training getting confused. These dividers help them understand that their sleeping environment and toilet environment are separate.

Dividers also help when you’re traveling with more than one small breed.

Crates also protect your dog. Check for crash-tested crates, as well as crates that use aluminum and plastic-reinforced materials, which are more durable.

Insulation is important, as well. That way your pet is comfortable, regardless of the season. 

You can also install crash-bags inside the crate if you’re driving.

4. Pack Their Bags

Gear up and get ready to go! Don’t forget, you’re not only packing for yourself. These tips for how to travel with a dog won’t help if your buddy is sad or anxious the entire way there.

When preparing for your trip, be sure to pack for your pet, too. Make a list of everything you need beforehand, so nothing gets left behind. 

This can include their favorite toy, bowl, familiar food, leash, any medication, and a waste scooper. 

Their favorite toy, blanket, or pillow can help remind them of home.

The more familiar the environment, the easier traveling becomes for your pet. Bringing a piece of home with them can help put your pet at ease during the trip.

Try to use familiar foods and bottled water, so you won’t upset their stomach. It also helps to feed them three to four hours before leaving, so they can take a bathroom break beforehand.

If you’re also traveling with a feline friend, check out these tips to ensure your cat and pup play nice!

5. Take a Break

Whether you’re traveling by car or have a layover between flights, it’s important to give your dog — and yourself — a break.

Head out for another walk, stretch those legs, and make sure everyone gets a bathroom break.

While you may feel comfortable pushing yourself to stay in the car a little longer, your dog may not. Try to stop every two to three hours. Otherwise, they might start to feel cooped up and become restless.

Besides, most humans don’t want to be stuck in a car for 10 hours straight.

By taking breaks when you can, you can ensure everyone is happy and comfortable for the next leg of your trip. 

This would be a good time to try and exhaust your dog again. After a bathroom break, trying running a few laps to tire them out. Then, they’ll sleep during the next portion of the trip, and you can focus on driving, not on the noise coming from the back seat. 

How to Travel With a Dog: No More Ruff Trips

Know that you know how to travel with a dog, where are you headed? With these tips for traveling with pets, you can have a doggone good time with man’s best friend.

Quit making your travel plans ruff and start packing! Make sure you don’t forget a few dog treats to reward good behavior, too.

Traveling with a cat, as well? Check out our feline advice on the blog for a little extra help.