traveling with dogs

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Dogs

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Usually, dogs come into your life when you already decide to settle down. After all, it’s a bit harder to move around a lot when you get yourself a dog, let alone traveling with dogs to different places.

But what if The Furry Companion convinces you otherwise? There are a lot of ways for adventurous dog parents to roam the world with their furry companion.

Benefits of Traveling with Dogs

Not only is it comforting to have your dog with you all the time. Also, imagine the fantastic experience of seeing different places in the world through the eyes of your furry pet.

On top of that, dogs can help you make new friends quickly if ever you’ve moved permanently to a new place. No one can resist dogs; imagine how famous you’d become in the neighborhood every time you take them out for walks.

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Although there are some hurdles you need to overcome, smart and creative planning will get you far. By then, it will become a constant option to take your dog along with you on your next travels. Still need more convincing? Allow us to list down some of the benefits you would get from traveling with dogs.

A Closer Bond

It doesn’t matter if your travels usually include camping, hiking, or simply just exploring a new beach or city. Your dog will be out of their comfort zone and will surely be depending on you for direction.

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Your dog will most likely have the desire to take orders from you. The closer attention you give them will indicate a closer bond between the two of you that can last even after your trip is over. Wherever you are traveling, take comfort in the fact that it will strengthen your relationship with your precious little furball.

Spontaneity

When we travel by ourselves or with other humans, we inevitably make meticulous plans to stick to no matter the cost so that we can check everything off the list.

Things are a little different when you bring your dog along. As usual, there is still a lot of planning involved, but you have to accept that not all of your picture-perfect plans are going to happen.

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Some parts of your trip may have to be altered depending on the circumstances. For example, a particular place may suddenly not allow dogs to be brought along. In cases like this, you have nothing else to do but to find an alternative.

Sure, it’s easy to get disappointed at first, especially since things hadn’t turned out the way you had hoped for. But you also must look at the bright side and think that the new alternative might turn out just as good (or even better) than your original plan.

See? You will develop patience too! Ultimately, making memories with your dog still beats disappointment.

Appreciating Life

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Traveling by ourselves and with other humans makes us want to see and experience as much as we possibly can. That can mean squeezing an impossible itinerary in just a few days. It’s no doubt why an exhilarating journey can also become exhausting eventually. Good thing traveling with dogs can become more relaxing and slower-paced.

Dogs are creatures of zen. Unlike us (yup, you), they do not aim to be extremely busy all the time. Dogs love enjoying each moment for what it is. They like to use their senses to explore and absorb every place they visit.

Meanwhile, humans usually take pride in being busy. And when you take time to travel with your dog, you will be surprised at how fast-paced your life is. You will learn a lot by noticing their enjoyment. The look of your dog being in the moment is priceless, and it often makes us want to take a deep breath and try to do things their way.

Meeting More People

There are several ways on how your dog can help you make friends during your travels!

First, traveling alone can make you too self-absorbed. You’re always frantic about what’s next on your list that it removes time to help you connect with other people around you.

Second, slowing down to your dog’s pace can help you build the attitude of reaching out to people to explore where you are at the moment.

Third, most people just love dogs, and they make up for a great conversation starter.

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All these things can lead to more connections with the people around you.

Safety

Bringing your dog on your travels can help you build a sense of security. If you have a big dog, it automatically makes you feel like you have a constant bodyguard by your side throughout your trip. But hey, even small dogs can add to your sense of safety too! Smaller dogs can be quite loud and can also attract attention if a situation gets suspicious. If you feel threatened, even little dogs can get nasty too, so don’t rule them out just yet for protection.

Bottom line: No matter how big or small your dog is, they are highly aware of their surroundings. More often than not, they are likely to notice if a situation or a person doesn’t “feel right.”

Cons of Traveling with Dogs

We’ve laid out all the benefits for you, but The Furry Companion is also honest and straightforward. Now that you know just how you will benefit from bringing your dogs with you, it’s also time to weigh your options by knowing the flip side.

Accommodation

Some “pet-friendly” apartments are often misleading. Ironically, many pet-friendly hotels are, in fact, not pet-friendly. It means that a place may allow pets, but they do not cater to them.

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It can manifest through a lack of pet amenities or staff who are uncooperative. These are just a few inconveniences for you and your dog. To avoid this, make sure to read the fine print before booking. It may significantly lower your options, and you may have to pay extra to stay in a place that will truly cater to both you and your dog.

Cost

It can be expensive. Most airlines charge at least $125 for a one-way trip with an in-cabin pet. It can cost almost the same as your plane ticket.

Even hotels are known to charge higher fees for guests with dogs, so do check their rates. If you’re bent on traveling with dogs, save up right now.

Dog’s Behavior

Your dog might act out. Dogs live for routine, so a new environment might be extremely confusing for them.

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If your dog is accustomed to change, be grateful since you can expect not to get any drama from your pet. However, other dogs can freak out at the slightest unfamiliarity. They may bark at a random stranger, feel sick, or just not be in the mood to do anything. All these can take away so much time from the actual traveling. You may find that you have spent more time with your dog than enjoying your trip.

Stress

The first time is always the worst. There are far too many fur parents who refuse to travel with their dogs a second time after a stressful first trip. For this, it may be best to plan a short trip first so that you can test how your dog will act outside the house.

Paperwork

Paperwork can be time-consuming. If you’re traveling out of the country, know that each country has its own set of requirements you’d have to comply with. You’re lucky if your destination has less strict policies; otherwise, you may have a stressful time going back and forth the vet, the embassy, and even the airline.

Requirements for Traveling with Dogs Abroad

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If you decide to explore other countries with your dog, the process can be a little tedious. Let’s not forget that time when Australia almost euthanized Johnny Depp’s dogs when the Hollywood star snuck his pets into the country. It did more than just spark global news. It also incited awareness of what a country’s rules and regulations are when entering a country with a pet.

With all the quarantines, microchips, and documents, it can all be a little overwhelming for any dog parents. Thankfully, The Furry Companion did all the digging for you. Below is the complete guide to everything you should know when traveling out of the country (by air) with your furry pet.

Step 1: Check if you are in a rabies-free or a rabies-controlled country.

There’s a reason why states are so strict when it comes to their regulations about pet imports. It all comes down to the threat of rabies. Rabies-free countries obviously want to stay rabies-free at all costs. Meanwhile, rabies-controlled countries also want to keep the dangerous disease from spreading even further.

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If you are traveling or moving to either type of country, expect that your dog will not have an easy time getting past customs. However, the process gets a lot less complicated if you are coming from a rabies-free country. 

Check here if you want to be certain about the rabies status of your country.

Step 2: Have your dog vaccinated or microchipped.

Sounds like a sci-fi movie? Don’t be too scared. Every country has its own set of regulations, but a majority of them require that your dog be implanted with a 15-digit non-encrypted microchip.

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Should you be living in a rabies-controlled country, your dog must be vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days before entering the destination country. Note that dogs that have been vaccinated before but have no microchip are required to be vaccinated again after the microchip implantation.

Some countries can also require more than just rabies vaccinations. The UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, for example, all require dogs to be vaccinated for distemper. Additionally, in Australia, dogs should also be vaccinated for parainfluenza, Bordetella, and canine influenza. It does not stop there as they should also be clear from brucellosis, Ehrlichia Canis, leishmaniosis, and leptospirosis.

It can be quite confusing at first, but the best way is to check what your destination’s vaccine requirements are months before your actual departure.

Step 3: Secure a veterinary health certificate or a pet passport.

All countries require a veterinary health certificate to be secured before departure. However, each country is also a little different. If you are unsure about what documents you need, take the time to contact your destination country or your country’s embassy to get a copy of all required veterinary paperwork.

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After getting a copy, proceed to your vet immediately and fill it out within ten days of entry. If you’re coming in from the United States or Canada, the health certificate must bear the endorsement of a USDA- or a CFIA-accredited veterinarian, respectively.

On the other hand, if you happen to live in Europe, traveling with dogs is a hundred times easier. European dog owners can bypass the mandatory health certificate and get themselves a pet passport instead. Yup, an actual passport with a picture and everything! Those with pet passports can freely travel within the European Union with their dog. Super awesome!

Step 4: Check if quarantine is mandatory.

Subjecting your dog to quarantine is probably the scariest part of traveling internationally. Don’t worry too much, however. If you follow the previous steps, you won’t have to go through quarantine any more.

Despite that, some countries still have stricter regulations and even crazier quarantine requirements. The duration can be as short as seven days (for fur parents, this is too long already) to as long as six months (looking at you, Japan). Again, to be sure about your destination country’s quarantine requirements, contact the embassy.

Step 5: Check if your dog is a banned breed.

Some countries have banned certain “violent” dog breeds. Any dog that falls under these banned breeds is not allowed to enter a country regardless if you have followed all the previous steps.

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When worse comes to worst, most countries will deport or even euthanize the dog. The most common banned breeds include pit bulls and rottweilers, among many others.

Step 6: Research other miscellaneous requirements.

We’ve told you again and again to check specific requirements from your destination country. So, when you’ve done this, you might realize that more additional steps must be taken, like import permits and other tests.

Countries like Bahamas, Australia, and France all require import permits for your dogs, including a blood titer test if you are coming in from a rabies-controlled or a high-rabies country. These additional steps are not always mandatory, but make sure to do your research first so that you do not waste any time and money.

Step 7: Coordinate with your airline about logistics.

Last but not the least, keep in touch with your airline of choice and ask them what necessary steps you should take when traveling with dogs. You might be able to ride with your dog in the cabin, depending on its size. Otherwise, your dog will have to stay in the cargo hold. When traveling abroad, remember that some countries have strict rules on receiving animals.

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Note that some international airports do not allow domestic animals. It means you will need to make sure you are arriving at an import-friendly airport. The easiest way to navigate this is to call airlines and ask them since rules (and red tape) are specific to each airline.

To be more precise, here are some more general considerations when flying with your dog by air:

  • Some airlines restrict the number of pets allowed per flight on a first-come, first-served basis. Book early if you want to get a spot.
  • Flying with your dog comes with a fee that can range from $75 to $200 each way. For larger dogs that must fly via cargo planes, this can go up to several hundred dollars.
  • If you can, choose a direct flight. Your dog will already have a tough time in the cargo hold. Longer travel time can easily stress it out even further. You wouldn’t want your dog to be significantly traumatized after you land in your destination, right?
  • Consider the weather. During winter, fly during the daytime so that it’s the warmest temperature possible for your dog in the cargo hold. In summer, either fly early or at night to avoid the midday heat.

What to Bring When Traveling with Dogs

Food and Water

The last thing you would want to end up running out of is food and water for your dog. Make sure you’ve brought along enough dry and wet food for the trip. A few snacks won’t hurt; it’s a road trip after all.

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However, keep your dog on a regular diet to avoid stomach issues. If traveling by car, make frequent stops to give your dog some water or do a routine checkup. You can look for a specially designed water bowl perfect on the go or pack up their regular food and water bowls and store them in the trunk. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, provide them food appropriate for their condition.

Poop Bags (Lots of It)

This one is easy to remember, especially if you’re still planning out what to bring at first. But it’s even easier to forget when you’re on a last-minute packing craze.

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You don’t want to get caught without poop bags for road stops or be judged by locals when your dog suddenly poops out of nowhere. Running to a pet store in an unfamiliar place can be a hassle and will take time away from your trip. Weeks before your trip, canvas poop bags so that you know which one to stock up on. 

Collar, Tag, and Leash

Ah, the holy trinity. Even if you let your dog go off-leash, it won’t hurt to be careful. You can use them during roadside breaks or when moving to a new location.

Traveling can bring hundreds of new smells and a vast terrain to explore. Your dog might be too tempted to run around and go wild, so keep them on a leash to avoid problems. It’s also equally important that they have dog tags complete with your name and contact number in case they get lost.

Bed and Crate

You wouldn’t want to be the only one comfortable on your trip, right? You can easily make the back seat of your car and the floor of any hotel comfortable for your dog by bringing a bed and crate with you. It will make every place feel like home for them and will help in reducing anxiety and tantrums. Also, they’ll calm down when they get to smell something familiar.

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Remember to pack these for your trip if your dog has arthritis or is experiencing any hip or joint discomfort. The same things go for a crate. If they have one at home, try bringing it along as well.

First Aid Kit

For this, you can choose to buy an already prepared first aid kit or you can also put one together yourself. Traveling can be quite messy, especially with a dog, so be prepared for bumps, scratches, or bruises during the trip.

A first aid kit will be especially useful if you’re going on outdoor adventures. Some essentials here include gauze bandages, tape, and antiseptic wipes.

Anxiety Supplements

If your dog has a history of becoming anxious around new people or places, then you would do well to bring along anxiety supplements. By now, you probably know how you can calm down your dog, but sometimes, they need more help than what we can give. So long as you have consulted your vet, consider bringing along essential oils or other supplements to help relieve your dog’s anxiety.

Seat Covers and Blankets

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Shedding can happen for dogs at any time. If you’re traveling by car, your dog will also spend hours inside it and is sure to get fur on the seats. Spare yourself the hassle of cleaning your car by bringing along seat covers and some blankets. Not only will you have an easier time to clean your car, but it will also add to making them cozy during car rides.

Loads of Patience

You can’t pack this in your luggage, but it is an absolute essential anyway. Your dog will have no idea what will happen, and they also do not know where they are going. On top of that, they may not be used to going hours without playing and marking their territory, just as they do at home. 

All these can result in some accidents or delays. Be sure to load up on patience when traveling with dogs. With all these things prepared ahead of time, you are ready to go for an adventure with your dog.

Best Practices When Traveling with Dogs

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Traveling with dogs still warrants a lot of tips to help make the adventure easier for you. Read on for the best pro tips.

  1. Check ahead of time for accommodations where dogs are allowed. Whether you will be staying with your family or friends, at a hotel, at a campground, or at a residential home, be sure to check if dogs are welcome there. Most places, fortunately, accommodate dogs (although for a fee), but it always gives you an extra peace of mind to know this information ahead of time. There are multiple apps for checking to see if dogs are welcome on different accommodations. If that does not work, then surf the Internet for reviews from locals or other travelers.

    Aside from accommodations, you would also want to plan your entire trip with your dog in mind. Even in restaurants to actual tourist destinations, it’s best to know if you can bring your dog along. This way, you can plan out your itinerary in such a way that it will cause you less stress.
  2. Try not to stress about your dog. Most likely, your dog will change its eating, drinking, and even sleeping habits. But think about yourself: Do you travel well? Do you retain the same routines when you travel? The answer is probably not, so neither does your dog. To ensure your dog is at its most relaxed state, make sure you give your dog what it needs at all times. From there, you’d do well to let go of expectations and stress. Just enjoy the trip!
  3. Know your dog’s boundaries. Enjoying everything with your dog can have some exceptions. If you know how your dog reacts to certain things, be careful not to force it in such situations. For example, if you know well that your dog gets overwhelmed around lots of people, be aware. In the end, everyone, including your dog, will be happier!

More on Lodging Concerns When Traveling with Dogs

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  1. If your dog is allowed to stay at a particular accommodation, respect other guests, staff, and the property itself.
  2. Keep your dog as quiet as possible. If you can, train it to behave long before your scheduled travel.
  3. Do not leave your dog unattended. A lot of dogs will tend to bark or destroy the property if left alone in an unfamiliar place.
  4. Coordinate with the management regarding where you can walk your dog. Clean up after it as you go for a walk. Never leave any mess behind. Poop bags, as mentioned, come in handy in this situation, so make sure to pack lots of it.
  5. Keep in mind that one bad experience with a dog and the owner can force the management to refuse to allow accommodation for your dogs. Make sure to be considerate of other people and leave your room in the condition that you first saw it.
  6. Before you let your dog run free in his home away from home, it’s best practice to puppy-proof your room. Put any electrical cords out of reach and check the whole place so that you’re sure there is nothing your dog can accidentally eat or destroy.

Final Words

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by now, we totally understand. Deciding to travel with your pet is a big change that every pet parent should prepare for. We hope that The Furry Companion has helped you in preparing for taking your relationship with your dog to the next level.

Given that you have taken note of all of these, we’re sure that you are now well-equipped to bring your dog on an adventure. Don’t be scared if you feel like you’re doing things wrong. What’s important is that you and your dog are happy. Safe travels!

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