Traveling With Dogs

Travel Tips with Dogs by Kendra Thornton.

I’m happy to have a guest blogger joining me this time around. Please welcome Kendra Thornton.  Kendra will be dishing some tips on traveling with dogs, to which I have a few additional tips at the end of her post.  (You didn’t really think I could hold my typing fingers that long, did you?)–KP

Vacations are a thrilling experience that our whole family loves to do. While we are on vacation, we like to take our dog with us. In fact, he feels like he is at home when he is on the road with us. Next month, some family will be visiting with their dog. Here are some tips that I will be sharing with them that have worked with my family and our dog.

Java the Black Lab

Resident Adventure Dog, High Octane Java, at the beach during our last family vacation

Beneficial Preparations

Before we go on vacation, I make sure that laws and restrictions concerning animals are followed precisely. When we first started to travel with our dog, we made sure he had a microchip implanted. I believe that each dog should have a microchip. Visiting a vet is a great idea before going on vacation. A vet can provide any vaccinations that are necessary.

Calming Reassurances

Be sure to bring a favorite toy that the dog loves. There are times that we bring a favorite blanket or bone. Make sure item is familiar to the dog. This can bring the dog comfort and will help relax it. Furthermore, I have found that lavender oil has done tremendous wonders in calming our pooch.


Dogs and Planes

Traveling by plane is a quick way to go, but it is not a good idea for a dog. A journey by plane can be extremely stressful for a dog that is riding in the cargo hold. I firmly believe that there is only one exception for dogs riding in planes. That exception is relocating to another part of the country, and all other travel options have been used up. PETA has some excellent guidelines in this area.

Hotel Options

It can be difficult to find a decent hotel that will be willing to host my family and our dog; there are however, some who do. There are hotels that have activities that dogs will appreciate, such as parks and hikes. Some hotels include a tasty breakfast for a dog. This is great, and it reduces the amount of dog food that I have to pack. I suggested my family stay right in downtown Chicago, not only are there a ton of great hotels, but they are close to all the sites!

Comfort is important when all of us travel. When we are comfortable, we feel at home. I try to make sure our family routine stays the same when we are on vacation. This routine includes walks in the morning and evening. Our dog especially likes eating meals at the same time wherever we go.

Kendra Thornton is a mother of 3. Before being promoted to the position of full-time mom, she was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. She now lives in Chicago where her family is her number one priority in everyday life.

More on Traveling with your dog. The Good, Bad and The Downright Ugly. 

Ask Permission First.

Always ask if it’s okay to bring you dog(s) along before visiting friends, family or destinations. Believe it or not, but not everyone is a “Dog person.”  Many people have allergies, pets that may not be dog friendly, children that may be afraid of dogs or just more than your pooch can handle.  It’s much better to ask if it’s okay in advance rather than be scrambling for new accommodations for either your 4 legged friends or your entire family, when it becomes painfully clear that one member of your family isn’t welcome. Also ask about pet hotel fees.


Shiba Inu Samurai

Samurai shows his tree climbing skills and a bit of attitude

Think closely about your agenda.

Some vacation destinations are more “dog friendly” than others.  If you plan on going hiking a lot great! Your dog will love that, but if you plan on going to Disneyland, think long and hard about what your dog is going to do when you’re gone for 8 to 10 hours straight.

Many hotels do not allow pets to be left unattended in the rooms, barking & whining can be annoying to other guests and dogs left in an unknown environment have been known to do things that they would never do at home, like chew up furniture and scratch through doors.  If a human member of your pack needs to stay behind to watch over the dog that can create some hard feelings.

Many doggy daycare facilities may be willing to take your dog for a day with a referral from your current cage-free boarding or daycare facility. However, most reputable dog daycare facilities will not accept a new dog without an in person (or in canine?) interview.

Plan accordingly, call ahead and see exactly which requirements need to be met. Maybe even take your dog to a local dog daycare a couple of times to get such a referral before you go. This will free you up in case you do have some unforeseen agenda issues. It’s always wise to have a backup plan just in case something goes awry. It may be a good idea to call a daycare or boarding facility at your destination to find out what it would take to have them boarded just in case things don’t go as smoothly as planned.

Vaccinations and records & Identification!!!

Never travel out of your vicinity without proper vaccinations and vaccination records and a recent photo of your pet. Laws may vary from state to state and you want to know your dog is protected for the local area’s risks as well as to be able to prove you dog is in compliance. It would be heartbreaking to return from a vacation only to find out that your dog contracted Heart-worm on your trip.

Make sure your dog has a proper ID tag with your cell phone # on it, even a luggage tag will do in a pinch. Don’t trust the dog’s well being to that cheap wire tag holder either, use an actual high quality key fob ring, pony up the extra dollar, use a zip tie or even better, write the dog’s name and your cell # directly on your dog’s collar with a sharpie.  Tags can get lost during play, collars usually stay in place unless a nefarious human removes it. (Micro-chipping is also highly recommended.)

Exercise is crucial to the plan

Make sure Fido gets plenty of exercise the day before embarking on a family adventure. He won’t have the energy to cause much of a fuss in the car if he’s good and worn out.  This goes double if you plan to introduce him to new dogs or leave him crated at your friend’s home while you go out to dinner.  A Tired dog is a good dog.

Proper Introductions:

Chances are if it’s okay to bring your dogs to visit, your hosts may have dogs of their own.  Take the time to do introductions properly. Start with a pack walk, and then introduce them off leash, in neutral territory. (An empty but securely fenced school yard can be just the ticket.) Even the most laid back dog can act aggressive if he feels his territory is being invaded. No one wants to spend their vacation at the emergency vet.

Don’t forget to pack for your dog too!

Make certain that you bring plenty of your dog’s usual food, medicines and fresh water with you.  You don’t want to change your dogs brand of food on a long car trip… it could get messy.  Also pack a collapsible water bowl, a 1st aid kit, poop bags, paper towels, moist wipes, Tweezers if going near tick country, a reflective or lighted leash and collar for night-time walks and paper towels. (I run a dog boarding facility, so believe me when I tell you, there is no such thing as being over prepared.) I also don’t suggest letting your dog eat the hotel’s breakfast if he or she has a sensitive stomach, you don’t want your pet to have an accident on a friends’ carpet or in your car.

A travel crate and a doggy seat-belt harness can literally be lifesavers on a long road trip.  I’ve seen you tube videos displaying what can happen to an unsecured pet in an automobile accident.  Don’t let your pet be a statistic.

Do your research first. Program the local emergency veterinarian’s phone # into your cell phone. Travelling with a dog is exciting, but you don’t know what kind of things they can get into at your destination.  I prefer to travel with a plan.

If all this sounds like too much work, maybe travelling with your dog is not for you. Consider boarding your dog at one of the new, Cage-Free dog boarding facilities. Dog Friendly dogs can have their own vacations too.

For more excellent tips on traveling with your dog, visit

Until next time,

The Alpha Dog’s Wife


About adventuredogs

I'm the "Alpha Dog's" wife... Life Partner and Co-owner of Adventure Dog Ranch, The Vacation Destination for Dogs! A place where canines socialize, exercise and have fun. You don't have to feel guilty when you take a vacation, your dog can have his very own vacation with us!
This entry was posted in Adventure Dog Ranch, dog behavior, Dog Behavior, Dogs, Traveling with Dogs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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