Traveling with your dog can be an enriching experience for both of you — as long as you prepare well in advance to ensure that your journey is as safe and stress-free as it can be.

Should your dog travel with you?

Before you start working on any vacation plans, ask yourself if your dog is the traveling kind. Some dogs are much happier staying at home with a friend, family member or dog sitter, while others enjoy going to their own doggie hotels to play with canine friends as you enjoy some much-needed time away. There is no harm in having a little time apart from each other, but if your dog enjoys new experiences and can easily tolerate novel situations, then get planning!

Road trip safety tips

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Most dogs love car travel, but for others it can be a source of extreme anxiety and fear. These four tips will allow you both to enjoy the ride.

  1. In order to have a safe and stress-free car ride, safely secure your dog in either a fixed crate or canine safety harness. Too many people let their dogs ride in cars without being secured, and this can be very dangerous if there is an accident.
  2. Dogs who dislike car rides may not be the best candidates for long journeys unless you work to lessen their anxiety. This might mean you have to put your dog in a secured crate with a blanket covering three sides and play relaxing music to keep him calm.
  3. Some dogs will get carsick through fear as well as motion, so consult with a veterinarian or trainer long before you travel so you have time to work on any techniques or purchase medication to help alleviate the nausea.
  4. And please, never leave your dog in a hot car even for a small amount of time. Temperatures in cars can rise very quickly even on cooler, sunny days, and your dog will not be able to regulate his body temperature for long.

Tips for adjusting dogs to new surroundings

While traveling to a destination can be tricky for some dogs, arriving at a new place can also be problematic. Unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells can be overwhelming. You can tell your dog is having a difficult time acclimating if you observe him:

  • panting
  • pacing
  • whining
  • unable to settle

If he is having trouble adjusting to new surroundings, try the following:

  • Give him time to get comfortable with his surroundings before you leave him alone.
  • Play music he associates with good things.
  • Unpack his bed, blanket or anything else that reminds him of home. Familiar smells in unfamiliar places can help ease anxiety.
  • Bring a crate and some fun enrichment toys so your dog can be left safely unattended.
  • Do not leave him alone for too long until he is more comfortable in his surroundings.

If your dog finds it hard to cope with new people, places or situations, it might not be the best idea to bring him along on your vacation, especially if there are other animals at your destination. Even if your dog is a social butterfly, you must still be sensitive to his experience and introduce him to other dogs slowly.

Traveling with your dog can be a great bonding experience, and even nervous dogs can enjoy themselves if care is taken to make a great plan before you leave. There is nothing better than seeing dogs frolicking on the beach or on a mountain trail, plus they will love the fact that you are less stressed as well. So have a great vacation and yappy travels!