I, founder of Modern Man Advice, have been a pup dad almost all my life. Every single one of them made a huge impact on my life. They are simply and truly man’s best friends. My pup’s name is Gordo, he is a Boston Bulldog, and could not imagine my life without him. Which means he goes where I go, whenever possible. And men know something about traveling is that there are few things as stressful as traveling and coordinating all the logistics behind it. This is why Modern Man Advice is a strong advocate of traveling and how to make traveling a simple and enjoyable experience. If you are a travel enthusiast and a pup dad, this is the article for you. We will go over how to travel with a dog.
Avoid Surprises and Stress
Between all the little things like airport security or terrifyingly sketchy rest stops, long-distance travel hardly needs any more variables added to it.
That said, let’s throw the live animal into the mix! It’s perfectly understandable. A dog is a lifelong companion and bringing them along with you on a major trip can be delightful. However, dogs are a factor that will profoundly change the way you approach your next trip. Regardless of how you are doing it, every step of the way must be adjusted to include your furry buddy. If you thought the TSA was a nightmare before, see what happens when you add a Scottish Terrier to the mix. Long stretches of lonely desert highway got you feeling a little down? Throw a bored, stressed German Shepherd in the backseat and see what happens.
Listen, we’re not here to discourage you from bringing your dog to the next vacation. You just need to know what you’re getting into.
What To Look For When Flying
Your dog is not going to like the airport or flying. Knowing that you can make the journey a lot less stressful the little (or big) guy.
First, call your airline well ahead of the flight. You need to alert them that you will take a dog with you and follow their instructions. Airlines often require that your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and has been approved for air-travel by a veterinarian. They may also demand a specific type of carrier. You must do this week, or even months, in advance. Airlines will usually have a deadline to alert them about a traveling pet and they will charge a fee.
The other reason you need to call ahead is to find out whether your dog can travel in the cabin or if it will be forced into the cargo hold. If they can travel in the cabin then Yahtzee! This will be a lot safer for your pet since they will be in your hands. You can be with your dog the entire time and constantly keep them, calm, occupied, and a little less sad.
If they have to go into the cargo hold, then take a deep breath. Most animals are fine traveling below deck. However, be aware that animals are killed, injured, or lost every year when flying. This is most often due to extreme heat or cold, careless handling by the airline, or bad ventilation. Thus, check your airline’s statistics for pet-travel. Choose the company you’re most comfortable with.
Follow guides for how to best prepare your dog for the cargo hold. Avoid traveling in times of extreme temperatures or when it’s particularly busy. Airlines are far more likely to make careless mistakes when they are swamped by the holiday crowds.
Lastly, prepare yourself for airport security. The carrier and the dog will be thoroughly examined. After all, a dog is a perfect place to hide a bomb or a gun! We highly recommend not putting an animal through the x-ray scan, so request a secondary screening. It will cost you time, but it will be a safer, healthier experience.
Are You Driving? No Problem
Regardless of the distance, you are driving, keep your dog secure in a crate that is anchored down. This will both keep the dog protected in an accident and will be far less distracting for the driver. Furthermore, keep the crate in the back of the car. If airbags are deployed, they can seriously injure an animal.
It can be tempting to let your dog stick their head out of the window. They. Love. It. Hell, people love it too, it’s the cheapest thrill imaginable. However, it can lead to eye injuries from debris and bugs. It even hurts their lungs if too much cold air is forced down their throats.
Let your dog have plenty of rest stops. They need to relieve themselves just as much as you do. Moreover, they get to stretch their legs. It’s a perfect time for some fetch and running to get the “zoomies” out.
Keep them hydrated throughout the trip and never leave them alone in the car. Even on mild spring days, temperatures get out of control in parked cars. It’s all too easy to lose a dog to heat even with the windows cracked and water present.
Other Means Of Transportation
So, you’re one of those weirdos who isn’t flying or driving. Well, fine. We have some basic information for you too.
Unless your pet is a licensed service animal, most cruise ships and the like will either not permit a dog or severely limit where they can go. They may be allowed in private cabins or restricted to a kennel facility. Contact the company beforehand. If your dog has to go to the kennels, check on them frequently.
Though the laws in the U.S. might change, Amtrak trains only permit certain small dogs (20 lbs. and under) in their cars and they charge a fee for it. Local lines may vary, so check in with them. Europe and other areas are laxers on this, but they often leave it entirely to passengers to take care of their dogs during travel and at rest stops.
Unfortunately, Greyhound and most other interstate bus companies do not allow travel with a dog on board unless they are service animals. Local companies might be different but it’s not likely. We don’t have advice about this. It just sucks.
When preparing them for the journey, make sure their collar and crate are both fixed with labels that include your name, address, and contact information. Also, add another label that states all your travel details and relevant contact information.
Clip their nails and find a travel-safe collar. These will prevent your dog from getting caught or stuck on the carrier door or other openings. When you arrive at your destination, immediately check them for any health issues. If something comes up, take them to a vet as soon as possible and get the results in writing with the date and time included. Give your dog a solid month to acquaint themselves with the crate and make it feel like home.
Don’t feed them for the 6 hours leading up to the flight or drive but give them plenty of water. They won’t get as motion-sick.
Sharing The Adventures With Gordo
No one said it would be easy. Travel with a dog is a stressful affair. However, it does not have to be a life or death struggle. The key to any kind of pet-travel is planning. Give yourself months to prepare and take every precaution. It’s a lot of work but it is worth the effort to give your dog the vacation you two have always dreamed of.
When I first got Gordo, I made him one single promise:
“I promise I will show you the beauty in this world and the amazing things in it”.
And that is exactly what I have done and will continue to do.