My husband and I frequently travel with our dog Garth. He’s our only child, so it’s really not a family vacation without him. Whenever we go anywhere overnight, we feel a lot more comfortable if he’s with us. (Garth may not have separation anxiety, but I sure do.)
Taking your dog with you when traveling can be fun, but it takes a bit of additional planning.
Before you go:
1. Ask to see a copy of the pet policy of the place where you will be staying. If there is a waiver form you will be required to sign, ask to see it beforehand. Some places that claim to be “pet friendly” have major limitations and exorbitant pet fees. Many hotels have weight limits for dogs. Some will agree to make an exception, but you should request this before you finalize your vacation plans. Get it in writing if possible, or write down the name of the person who told you it was okay to bring your over-the-weight-limit dog. It’s pretty distressing to find out a hotel has a 50-pound weight limit when you’re standing in the lobby with a 65-pound dog after an exhausting day of traveling – and after you were told over the phone that the weight limit was 70 pounds.
2. Research the area you are visiting to learn about local dangers to pets and local situations which may present challenges when walking your dog. For example, there are alligators, poisonous toads, and biting lizards in Florida, porcupines in the northeast, venomous snakes in lots of places, and prickly pears and sand spurs in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Situations that present challenges include the feral chickens that roam the streets of Key West, Florida and the feral cat colonies found in many places.
3. Research local leash laws and other laws affecting dogs. Dogs are not allowed on certain beaches by local ordinance. In other places, dogs are restricted to a 6-foot leash, or only allowed during certain hours or in the off season. Dogs are not allowed on trails in certain national parks.
4. Plan for your dog’s needs. Locate rest stops along your route before you leave. Make sure there are safe places to walk your dog near the location where you will be staying.
5. Make sure your pet will have a safe place to stay when you are doing non-pet friendly activities. Dogs die in hot cars. Research local pet sitters or pet daycare establishments, and contact them before your trip. Teach your dog to be comfortable and stay quietly in a crate in case you must leave him in the hotel room.
6. Have your dog microchipped.
7. Make sure your dog has a safe, comfortable place to travel in your vehicle, such as a crate or safety harness.
What to take with you:
- Collar with tag listing your cell phone number and/or your phone number/address during your vacation
- Photo of your dog
- Leash (6-foot, non-retractable)
- Extra leash and collar
- Your dog’s medications
- Poop bags
- Copies of vaccination records (especially rabies) and dog license
- Your vet’s phone number
- Names and contact info for local vets
- Pet first aid kit
When you are there:
Be considerate of other guests and local residents. Always pick up after your dog and keep him under your control so that he doesn’t disturb others, chase local pets or wildlife, or cause any damage. Make the effort to keep your dog from disturbing others so dogs will continue to be welcomed.
Rebecca Randolph is a writer and artist, who works a day job as an attorney. You can read about her dog Garth and their travels at The World According to Garth Riley. She is a Top Contributor on Trip Advisor, where she writes as “labnut”. You can read her Trip Advisor reviews here.
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