I wasn’t always a dog person. In fact, I used to be so scared of dogs that even when our family first got a puppy, I used to run and jump on the couch to get away from her (and I was a senior in high school!!lol). I know, sounds crazy but we never allowed to have any pets growing up (unless you count a hermit crab haha) and I wasn’t used to being around animals. And now look at me–writing a whole post about traveling with your dog! 🙂
I adopted Sophie from a rescue when she was a puppy and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Sophie is an absolutely amazing dog, and while I’d love to take credit for her wonderful behavior, I really did get lucky with her. She almost never barks, she loves to greet every single human and dog, and she’s very calm and mellow (when she’s not playing).
Our family dog Mocha (RIP) had extreme anxiety issues and would go crazy barking at everything. She definitely would not have enjoyed traveling by plane. (She did love car rides but she would get so excited that she would poop on you lol). Every dog and every situation is different, so it’s important to understand what works best for you and your pup.
Traveling with your dog: Pre-Travel Prep & Packing
Make sure you have an identification tag with your up-to-date contact information and consider micro-chipping your dog if you haven’t already (just in case the ID tags ever come off)
No matter where I travel with my dog, I always pack the following:
- extendable leash
- portable water dispenser (I highly recommend this one)
- waste bags
- potty pads (optional depending on the age of your dog)
- any necessary health records and medications
Traveling with your dog by Plane
Traveling with your dog by plane for the first time can be a little nerve-racking since you don’t know how they will react. To help them feel more comfortable during the flight, I recommend spending as much time before your trip having them get used to being in their carrier. This will help tremendously during the flight.
Sophie is pretty calm most of the time, and while she has been on about 10 flights now, she does sometimes get nervous during a flight. I did try some calming treats before one trip (they didn’t seem to have any effect), but I found nothing works better than taking her out for some strenuous exercise before our flight. Always make sure your dog eats before you travel and goes to the bathroom before heading to the airport. One time Sophie was so excited she pooped right when I got to the front of the security line!Lol
Tips for Flying with your dog:
- Every airline has different requirements so it is important to check the terms and conditions regarding traveling with your dog before booking your flight (many airlines restrict the number of pets they allow on a flight so you don’t want to find out when it’s too late!)
- Ensure your dog is up-to-date with vaccinations as some airlines require you to present health records before flying
- To fly with your dog on the plane, they must be small enough to fit comfortably in a ventilated carrier under your seat (I bought this carrier in medium for Sophie as the small and medium size has been approved on most major airlines)
- Fees can start at $95 each way for your pet
- If traveling with an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) be sure to also check the requirements ahead of time so the airline is notified accordingly
It can definitely add some stress flying with a dog (I can’t even imagine what it must be like to travel with kids!). Especially if your dog is stressed, you can’t help but also get stressed. I only like to bring Sophie on trips now where the flight time isn’t long or we don’t have too many layovers.
Long travel days and having to change flights is already tiring on its own, so it can be extra challenging with a pet. Also, some airlines/flight attendants (ahem *Jetblue*) have been extremely rude to me when traveling with Sophie (on Sophie’s first flight her head was sticking out of her carrier when I was boarding the plane and the attendant told me rudely to get off the flight and zipper up the carrier before getting back on). I personally have had the best experience with Southwest while traveling with a dog. Be sure to follow all rules (like keeping the carrier completely closed at ALL times) to ensure a smooth experience.
Traveling With Your Dog By Car:
Traveling with your dog by car is probably going to be the least stressful as you likely you already drive with your dog and you won’t have to worry about extra requirements like obtaining health records and vaccinations.
I bought this Good2Go booster seat along with this crash-tested harness for extra safety. I originally bought a larger booster seats but it gave Sophie too much height and I found it to be a hinderance when I needed to move it and use the extra seat in the car. I have been very happy with the Good2Go booster since it is foldable and can easily be stored away.
Please make sure the carseat is secured in the back seat as airbags can severely injure or kill your dog 🙁
When searching for a place to stay, don’t forget to filter for pet-friendly hotels and review all pet policies. Most hotel booking sites don’t give specifics to the pet policy, so when I find a few good options, I will look at https://www.bringfido.com/lodging/ for details like fees and pet restrictions.
Pet fees can very greatly from one hotel to another so you will want to do some research beforehand so there aren’t any surprises when you check in. Some hotels don’t charge any fee and some hotels will charge as much as $200+ per pet per stay.
Here is a great list of top pet-friendly hotel chains to keep at the top of your mind when searching for lodging: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/hotels/2014/09/03/pet-dog-friendly-hotel/14972079/. Many of these chains, like the Four Seasons, Kimpton or La Quinta, do not have an additional charge for pets (and La Quinta allows up to two dogs!).