Let’s face it, travelling with your dog can either be one of two things: a wonderful trip filled with blue skies and the open road OR a nightmarish experience where you have no control of the wheel, your life, or your pet. So let’s talk about ways to avoid the latter and get you (and your dog) feeling good about traveling.
What to expect
Tot is one of our two dogs that used to be GREAT at car rides. Most of the time, he would spend the whole time either looking out the window or conked out in the back seat. He would only be awoken if the car got to an eerily slow speed for which he thought we had arrived. However, in the past year his anxiety on car rides has turned 180 degrees – he spends every minute of the ride panting, climbing on things, letting out some natural fumes, and shaking beyond belief. It is miserable. We of course felt terrible taking him on trips because not only was it uncomfortable for him, but it was also very difficult for us to watch and control.
The Starter Kit
- Car Hammocks – Car Hammocks have been one of our favorite items when travelling with our dogs. Not only does it provide a comfortable “play” area for your pet as the ride gets bumpy but it also protects your car from unwanted scratches and hair. We love our AmazonBasic hammock because it has very useful pockets and is waterproof for any unwanted liquids that may come of the ride.
- Kong Dog Toy – Make sure that your pet has something to do on long car rides. It can get boring for them, and they’ll seek out your attention on a drive in any way possible.
- Leash Splitters – It’s a million times easier to handle one leash than to juggle two. A leash splitter is essential when you have two dogs and need to make potty breaks on the drive. When picking a leash splitter, it is imperative that you find one with a swivel to allow your dogs to switch sides as often as you’d like. It get extremely annoying when you’re having to untangle two energetic dogs.
- Carrier Bag – When travelling by flight make sure you have an approved carrier bag for your pet to sit under the seat in front of you. Look for high mesh content and bring toys to comfort their journey.
- Mutt Muffs – Mutt Muffs are a great way to drown out the noise at bustling airports. For many pet owners, loud noises and chatter can increase your dogs anxiety.
- Bendaryl for Kids – Yup, that’s right. Benadryl. Antihistamine medication, such as Benadryl, has sedative properties to make your pets experience a bit more bearable. The rule for dog dosage is 1mg = 1 pound – meaning if Fido is 25 pounds you should only administer 25mg. Also, GET CHEWABLES. Your pet will very much dislike the taste of the liquid stuff.
Remember, administering medication is tricky. This has worked very well for us but please be sure to consult your veterinarian for proper medical solutions on anxiety
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Travel by Car
Travelling by car is probably the easier of the two methods, the other being aviation. But car rides can be tricky, too, if you don’t approach it correctly. Our first tip is to travel in the morning! You’ve probably heard this many times but leaving bright and early really helps ease a portion of the trip. If you leave early enough your dog will most likely still be low energy and can fall asleep faster on the ride. Secondly, as obvious as this may sound, let your dog out to do his or her business. And make sure they aren’t coming in afterwards and taking big gulps of water and eating food. If it’s a short trip (~2-5 hours) we would suggest just waiting till you’ve reached your destination to feed your dog. This will help prevent them from feeling car sick and potentially vomiting.
Travel by Plane
Traveling by plane is actually one of the more difficult options and we’ve only done it twice with Tot & Rupert. Make sure that you understand your dog’s anxiety buttons. What we mean by this is that we know Rupert is very sensitive to large crowds and lots of noise. Whereas Tot may be a bit more comfortable with that, he doesn’t like back and forth swaying motions. Knowing both of those things, we can better accommodate our dogs on the journey. Remember, they didn’t sign up for this! And as much as having them with you while travelling seems fun and exciting, they may have an entirely different perspective and need comforting. Our first tip on this is to make sure you pick the right carrier. We’ve seen and tested many different types of carriers and one thing to really look for is pull (roller) options with backpack functionalities. Also, make sure it has plenty of ventilation and mesh to avoid your dog feeling claustrophobic and to give them full visibility during the flight. Our second tip is accommodate their sensitivities. If you know your pet struggles with loud noises, then consider getting them the mutt muffs to avoid anxiety from the noise pollution of an airport. Our last tip is to pack a leash in your carry-on. There will be a fair amount of down time while waiting for the flight or going through security. Having a leash on hand allows you to take your pet out of the carrier as often as possible – but remember, the more times you take them out the harder it will be to get them back in!