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Traveling with Dogs

One of the deciding factors of buying our first camper was so we could take our friends along for the ride. Specifically, our four legged friends. We had our girl Abby, then our sweet Tori and now our big wonderful Penny. Each has been a joy and each one loved to "go" in the car and on vacation for a week or just overnight. It didn't matter to them where we went or how long we stayed, they just loved going to a new place for a new smell and to see new things.

Dogs have a wanderlust that something awesome is just around the next corner, so they go looking for it - not unlike John and I and you too, since you're reading this. If you think about it - shouldn't we all be looking for the fun everywhere we go? Absolutely - but this post is not about that philosophical reason we travel - it's about dogs and their needs when THEY travel.

Dogs and people are a lot alike - your dog needs you and you need your dog so why not take them everywhere you go - Right? Well yes and no. Dogs can go a good many places but sometimes, depending on the dog, it can be dangerous. For instance: pug nosed dogs shouldn't ride on airplanes because the altitude of the airplane can cause them to suffocate. Many airlines will give you a do not fly list of animals when you're looking into taking your pet. Be sure to do your research about what your particular breed of dog can withstand. You sure don't want bad things to happen to your dog! There are also alternate choices for transporting your pet. For instance, I have a couple friends who own a Pet Transport Company - Precious Pets will take your pup anywhere in the U.S. Granted they normally transport pets for relocation purposes, but give them a call - they might be going the same way you are for your vacation.

Some dogs don't like it hot and some dogs don't like it cold. Small short haired dogs should probably not be taken on a trip to Alaska in the winter and Husky's probably shouldn't go to the rain forrest. You get the idea, but for the most part, common sense should come into play when taking your best buddy anywhere.

When you're packing your things to go away, you always pack enough clothes in case it's too hot or cold, in case your shoes get wet or if you're flying (at least I do) you pack a couple extra pairs of underwear and socks in your carry-on just in case your luggage gets lost. You need to do the same thing for your dog. Not that they wear underwear but they do need food and lots of water, coats or blankets and in some cases, medications. Don't forget your pills and don't forget their pills. Something else you should have with you in your wallet is a current rabies certificate. Many places will require proof of a rabies vaccination as well as proof of licensing. Be sure to have those documents with you when you check in.

Once you've arrived at your destination, your dog is going to be ramped up! They'll need to be outside for a whole host of reasons. They'll need to potty but they will also need to be on solid ground regardless if they've flown or ridden. Their basic instinct will be to get on the ground and do what they do. So before you unpack, try to carve out a couple minutes for them. Give them some water and a treat and get your baby in a good place before you can get back to your stuff. Remember, you brought them so you must cater to them - otherwise they would be at home alone or at a kennel and you obviously didn't want that so you brought your pup along.

Food and water are important to us all, but especially to a dog. The first night you're traveling will be a difficult one for your dog. They're in a new place, they aren't sure where to sleep and they will want to make sure they have enough food and water because a dog is smart - they understand that their survival depends on a food and water supply. But that first night, because of the anxiety that they MIGHT experience, they may not eat anything. That used to worry me, until I understood what was happening. So I began to plan for it and I take a special first night enticer for her evening meal. Her nose gets the best of her and she eats. Regardless of your tricks, just know and understand that even though your dog loves to be with you, they are sometimes uneasy with change and will behave differently until they get used to their surroundings.

It's also important to provide a place for your dog to sleep. Yes, I'm sure some of you have dogs that are JUST like mine that never met a bed, couch, hammock, or lawn chair that they didn't like, but there are also those out there that must have their bed, with their smells and favorite blankey, so be sure to pack those items. We all spoil our babies so much! LOVE IT!

Now here's a pet peeve of mine that really shouldn't have to be addressed but I have to because it happens everywhere I go. CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG! I mean seriously? You're taking your dog for a walk, they are gonna poop. Be prepared! Carry a bag. I use a plastic grocery store bag, because I got it for free, it folds up nicely in my pocket and after she's done her thing, I have handles to carry it back to the garbage can.

When I walk with Penny, especially at a campground I will have at least a dozen people come up to us every time we're out saying, "You have a beautiful dog, may we pet her?" My answer is always NO! There are a couple reasons. Remember, she's already ramped up from being in a new place, she doesn't know these people, and who knows how she'll react? The important part is that people will often ask if they may pet her. Every dog is different, just like people. My dog really dislikes strangers, other dogs welcome strangers with open arms. Again, be dog smart and before assuming every dog is a bundle of joy and love, ask the person holding the leash if you may pet them. And for heavens sake, do NOT allow your child to run to any dog to pet them with out first asking! No one wants a child bitten and no one wants to lose their dog because they've bitten a child. Be smart and courteous - ask before petting!

In this day and age, there are many restaurants and hotels that allow dogs to stay with you. Some hotels have a slight up-charge for your dog, but if you want your pup to come along, then it's no big deal - right? Of course service dogs are welcome every where but some places are beginning to crack down on therapy animals. Check the facilities' website before assuming your friend is permitted in the establishment.

To wrap this up, although we love having our dog with us, sometimes it's just not the right fit. Be dog smart and understand that there are some places you'll visit that should be dog free. For the sake of your dog, you and others in attendance. Before you go anywhere, you'll need to ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Is the place I'm going accepting of dogs? Check the website to see if they have a pet friendly policy.

  2. Will the place I'm going be dangerous for my dog? Are you going to a festival with lots of people? That's probably not a good place for a dog.

  3. Will our trip require my dog to spend a lot of time in the car? If it does, make sure you give them a potty break when you take one.

  4. Will your dog be left in your vehicle while you go do your thing? If the answer to this is yes, for any duration of time, leave your dog at home. Many dogs have died in hot cars, and in many municipalities police will open your car, and remove your dog.

  5. Does the place I'm visiting have a dog park or alternate area to walk my dog safely? Again, check the website before planning your trip.

  6. Will there be other dogs at the place you're visiting? If yes, Ask before petting or allowing your dog or child to play with a strange dog.

  7. Do you have proof of a rabies vaccination and dog license? If not, call your Vet and get a copy. If it isn't current - get your friend updated so they don't get sick or make anyone else sick. Another good idea is to get a Lyme Disease vaccination to help ward off those nasty tick borne diseases.

Traveling with my dog has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I love having her with me when I discover new places. If you'd like to try it too, simply remember to be cognizant of your dog's needs and keep your friend safe. Happy Travels.

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