51% of people would bring their dog on every vacation if they could— because your pets are part of your family. And while you may know how to handle your pet at home, traveling with them comes with a different set of challenges: making sure they’re welcome, comfortable, and safe are the largest factors you’ll need to focus on. So here is a quick checklist for ensuring the wellbeing of your big dog while traveling.
Before You Leave
The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure your furry family member is medically and physically prepared to travel. You’ll need to visit your veterinarian to make sure they’re up to date on their shots, and that there’s no underlying problems that may be exacerbated by travel. Making sure your pup is healthy is the most important task before taking them on the road or especially on a plane.
The next thing you’ll need to do is make sure they’re properly trained. You could take them to a trainer or even a daycare facility that has in-house training programs. Making sure your big dog is well behaved is imperative for taking them on planes or going sightseeing.
Also make sure you have the proper paperwork and equipment for traveling with your dog. You may need to get a passport for your pup if you’re flying, and you’ll want to make sure their ID tags are up-to-date with current information. Feel free to take a look at different types of leashes and harnesses to keep your pets safe, as well as gentle leaders and thunder shirts to keep them calm and quiet.
On The Way
If your big dog has a big personality, you’ll want to make sure they won’t be hyper while you’re on a plane or train. Some larger breeds have more energy than small dogs, so you’ll want to calm them down. It’s a good idea to take them to a park or for a jog before your transportation is scheduled to leave, so they’re tired and more likely to sleep during the ride.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all airline carriers, hotels, and destinations are dog friendly. Do research for your transportation and room accommodations and make sure your pup is welcome: some of them allow dogs, but have breed restrictions. You don’t want to arrive and find out your German Shepherd or Pitbull Terrier can’t fly or stay with you, so calling the businesses directly may be beneficial.
When You Get There
Whether you’re backpacking across Europe, or taking a road trip, you’ll want to make sure it’s fun for both you and your big dog. Keeping them in a kennel can make a dog anxious, especially if yours is too large for a standard kennel or carrier. You’ll want to make sure they’re safe, but comfortable, so cramped methods of travel, like subways or buses, may not be your best option when you’re bringing a large breed.
Many popular sightseeing attractions are dog-friendly, and some are particularly great for bigger breeds— hiking trails, city tours, and famous parks are great opportunities to get some exercise for both of you, and you’ll still get to see all the landmarks on your list, without exhausting your pup.
Some cities are especially dog-friendly: you can find everything from pet-oriented bed and breakfasts, dog spas, and even classes for you and your pup to take together. Yoga, obstacle courses, and nose work classes await— and afterwards, you can stage a puppy photoshoot in your favorite locations. Use their new skills for some fresh picture ideas.
Now that you know how to prepare, travel, and vacay with your big dog, the only thing left to do is start crossing some destinations off your bucket list. Creating new memories with your pet makes them feel even more like family, and broadens the horizons of their you-centric world. Where will you go first?