Are you planning to take your dog with you when you travel? Before you start on your to-do list, make sure you ask yourself if travelling is something your dog will enjoy. If your dog isn’t a fan of new places and adventures, he may prefer to stay back with someone to love him in the comfort of his own home. If new adventures aren’t fun for both of you, and if your pet isn’t happy on your trip, neither of you will enjoy the experience.
I’ve gained a lot of experience travelling with my dog Maggie over the years. Here’s what you’ll need to know when your dog is your travelling buddy.
Plan accordingly! I pack a bag of quick, easy-to-grab supplies for road trips such as extra poop bags, an extra leash, a small towel, our vaccination records, and of course, some treats.
You want to include small stops on your road trip for your pet to stretch their legs, catch a ball, and use a restroom. You never know when these stops can turn into fun adventures, such as jumping in puddles or walking in damp grass, so that towel will be handy.
Nicole’s Pet Packing List
- Food. Changing your dog’s food on the road could lead to a very upset digestive tract, ruining your plans for the day. I usually pack Maggie’s regular food with me. I take Ziwi Peak food and treats on every trip because they are lightweight, easy to pack, and I know Maggie loves them. If you can’t fit your pet’s food in your limited luggage space, call a few pet shops in your destination city to ensure they have it in stock. Even in large chains, it’s amazing how dog food brands can vary by location.
- Treats. Because he’s a good boy. Why else?
- Collapsible bowls. I bring at least two, one for water and one for food. These are great to keep in a bag/purse while sightseeing, too. If your pet becomes thirsty or the weather gets warm, you’re prepared. I’m currently using some that our insurance company sent us, but I’m also a fan of the Ruffwear bowls.
- Poop bags. Do you really want to be late for your hike or sightseeing because you need to run to the pet store? So easy to pack: just throw a few rolls in your backpack, purse, suitcase, or pocket. If you’re doing a road trip, I recommend having a separate roll to keep in the car.
- An extra leash. This may sound odd at first, but I have an extra lead in every suitcase or vehicle. This could come in handy many times over. In the car, when you need to quickly grab a lead for a potty break, or after hiking together and your lead gets wet, or in case one lead gets accidentally packed or left behind in a hotel room. Who hasn’t left something in a hotel room?
- List of vaccinations and microchip info. Print out a hard copy or two, and also take a photo and keep it on your phone. You might need this for a hotel or dog daycare or emergency vet visit (let’s hope it’s not the latter).
- Microchip your pet! If your pet isn’t microchipped, make sure to do so before you leave.
Pack extras! Flights get delayed, traffic happens, and storms disrupt the best-laid plans.
Travel Safety for Dogs
Practice beforehand for any situations your pet may encounter. For example, if you will be using a harness or crate in the car for a road trip, do a few shorter practice runs so it’s something familiar and positive.
Make sure your pet is not only restrained in the car but travelling in a crash-tested harness or crate by the Centre for Pet Safety, a 3rd party US company that does crash testing for pet safety. Many items are not only unsafe but could cause more harm, acting as a slingshot in an accident.
Know your Airline Pet Policies
If you plan to fly with your dog, be sure and check the rules before takeoff. Book early, as airlines do limit the number of pets on each flight. For more information on which airlines and airports allow pets, see the GOV.UK list of options.
Dogs on Trains
While you can’t take your dog on the Eurostar, you can take your dog on all British trains. From National Rail Enquiries:
- Passengers may take with them, free of charge and subject to conditions below, dogs, cats and other small animals (maximum two per passenger) provided they do not endanger or inconvenience passengers or staff.
Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times unless contained in a basket.
- Dogs without leads, cats, birds and small animals must be carried in an enclosed basket, cage or pet carrier. It must be rigid and not open (to prevent escape) and the animal able to stand and lie down in comfort.
- Animals and containers must not occupy seats, otherwise, a charge will be made.
- Animals are not allowed in restaurant cars except for blind persons’ guide dogs or deaf persons’ assistance dogs, which may be allowed into the restaurant car at the Steward’s discretion. However, every effort is made to serve meals at blind or deaf persons’ seats within the normal seated accommodation.
- Blind persons’ guide dogs or deaf persons’ assistance dogs are allowed on Sleeper services provided the blind or deaf person and dog are booked into single-cabin accommodation. The guide or assistance dog is conveyed free and no cleaning charge applied.
- Caledonian Sleeper allows dogs to accompany able-bodied passengers subject to a charge for a heavy duty clean.
Booking for all dogs travelling in Sleepers should be made at least 48 hours in advance.
- Byelaw 16 allows the train company to refuse carriage or entry to any animal. If your dog or other animal causes a nuisance or inconvenience to other passengers you may be asked to remove it from the train or railway premises by the Train Company or Rail Service Company staff.
- When dogs are carried in the guard’s van/luggage van (other than those in a container) they must be secured with collar and chain and properly muzzled.
Understand what ‘pet-friendly’ means to your hotel or rental. Sometimes it means your pet can be left unattended, but many times it means your pet can’t be in the room alone, which could seriously affect your plans if you aren’t prepared.
Luckily, you can find a local dog walker or in-home sitter in your destination city through Rover, should you need to go somewhere without your dog.
Nicole’s Top Tips for Hotel Stays
- Leave the TV on to give your pup some comforting background noise if you’re away from the room. This can also drown out stress-inducing city or neighbouring room noise.
- Always keep the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door so that housekeeping doesn’t scare your critter or allow your pet to bolt while you are out.
- When I make my reservation, I ask for a room away from the elevator. This means there will be less foot traffic outside the door that might cause Maggie to bark or whine. We don’t always get the room we request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask politely.
- Set up a ‘safe space’ in the room, with blankets and a water bowl, and spend a little time getting your pup acclimated to the new space before your first pet-free foray into the city.
- Learn early what pet-friendly really means for your hotel. In some hotels, it means you can leave your pet alone, while other hotels require you to be in the room if your pet is there.
- Book a dog walk or doggy daycare stay if you need to go somewhere without your dog, but can’t leave your dog in the hotel.
Good luck, and happy travels!