Dog Travel: 4 Things You Should Know

Invite your dog on vacation by planning ahead and taking some safety measures. Here are a few important details about dog travel, from flying the friendly skies to booking a hotel stay.

Dog Air Travel Tips

If you want your dog nearby for the flight, he'll have to be on the petite side. Some airlines will let small dogs travel in the cabin area if their carrier fits under your seat. There are specially-made crates and carrier bags designed specifically for pet travel.

Reserve early and book a nonstop flight. Some airlines only allow one pet per cabin; so secure your dates well in advance. Although it's not typical for a pet to get lost during a layover, it can happen. A nonstop flight will prevent your dog from ending up on the wrong connecting flight.

A larger dog will have to travel in the cargo area of the plane in a crate that meets airline specifications. A dog travel compartment needs to be roomy enough for your pet to stand up and move around in. If your dog is too crowded, she can experience anxiety. Clearly label the crate with your contact information and your travel destination. Be sure the dog carrier you choose is able to have water and food bowls attached inside of it.

Navigating Car Travel

Have your dog's medical paperwork and tags when you take him on long car rides. He'll need proof of his rabies shots (such as tags or veterinary records) for entering campgrounds, national parks and driving over borders. Request a general certificate of health from your vet especially if you plan on taking your dog overseas.

Dog Travel Road Tips

  • Strap in your dog's crate with a seatbelt when taking him in the car.
  • Put on his leash at rest stops. Dogs can get skittish in crowded environments.
  • Bring a pet travel cooler packed with food and water for the trip.
  • Try not to leave your dog unattended. If you must for a minute or two, make sure the windows are opened sufficiently.
  • Place a spare key in a magnet case under your car.

Pet-Friendly Hotel Stays

Many lodging facilities are making it more attractive than ever to let you travel with dogs. There are pet-friendly motels, inns, resorts and even upscale hotels. Hotels that accept pets are generally easy to check into, there are some restrictions you'll encounter that include:

  • a weight or size limit for the dog: for instance no larger than 70 or 80 lbs
  • pet-specific rooms or floors: usually the rooms accommodating pets are on the ground floor providing easy access to exits and walking areas
  • expect a cleaning fee tacked onto your check-out bill, which varies by class of hotel

Sightseeing and Dining

While on vacation, don't leave your dog in the hotel while you're out having fun. Visit pet-friendly beaches, B&Bs and special dog-day events at national ball parks. Some resort towns even open up their beaches to dogs at the end of the season or during specific hours of the day.

Dine with your dog at restaurants that offer outdoor seating. Select establishments freely let dogs dine by your side in the warmer months. When dining with your dog:

  • bring his favorite snack if you're eating food he cannot have
  • call the restaurant to inquire about what's available and required for pet seating
  • investigate seaside vacation areas for such pet dining accommodations
  • if your dog tends to barker or beg, request a table that's off the beaten path so you won't disturb other diners
  • tie his leash to the arm of your chair so he won't wander over to other tables