Traveling with Your Dog
Table of Contents
If you take the time to get your dog used to the car, with luck it will adjust to it quickly so every journey does not become an ordeal. Place your young puppy inside the car for short periods of about 10 minutes. Settle it on a familiar blanket with some of its toys. Stay with it at first, then leave it on its own. The next stage is to have the puppy in the car with the engine running. If this causes no problem, then you are ready for the first journey.
Make sure the puppy has relieved itself. If possible, choose a time when it is feeling sleepy. Try to keep your journeys short at first. All dogs should be restrained within a moving car. The easiest way is to settle your puppy or dog inside a portable kennel or traveling crate. This is then placed securely on the back seat of a sedan or in the back of a hatchback or station wagon. Dog guards and harnesses can also be used.
On long journeys stop approximately every two hours to allow the puppy to stretch its legs and have a drink. Provide it with toys and chews to occupy it during the journey. A bored puppy can cause an astounding amount of damage to a car, particularly when it is teething.
Many puppies suffer from motion sickness the first few times they travel. They will look miserable, begin to salivate profusely, then throw up. Keep journeys short and have a window slightly open. Most grow out of it fairly quickly, but if your dog remains a persistent sufferer, your vet can prescribe sedatives and antiemetics.
Dogs cannot control their body temperature as efficiently as humans. If confined inside the car in hot weather, they can rapidly develop heatstroke. Shade the windows from the sun and carry a waterspray to cool your dog down if it becomes overheated. Never leave a dog in a parked car in sunshine, even for a short time.
Flying with Your Dog
To transport a dog by air, it is usually necessary to arrange for it to travel in the pressurized cabin of the baggage compartment. Some domestic airlines may arrange for a small dog to travel with you as hand baggage. Always check all regulations well in advance. The airline will specify what type of container the dog must travel in and may lay down other rules. Some will only fly snub-nosed breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Pugs if they are certified free of respiratory problems. For international journeys you will need an international certificate of vaccination and a current health report signed by your veterinarian. Precise requirements vary, so you should contact the consulate of the country to which you are traveling for information well ahead of your date of departure. Some countries that are rabies-free, such as Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, impose strict quarantine rules on all animals entering the country.
- Never have an unrestrained dog in the car: portable kennels or crates, travel harnesses and gates are all available.
- Never leave a dog in a parked car in direct sunshine.
- Make sure your dog has relieved itself before starting on a journey.
- Stop at intervals to give your dog exercise and a dnnk of fresh, cool water in a bowl.
- On long journeys make sure you have food for the dog, but avoid overfeeding.
- Opening the window a little may help to prevent motion sickness. Seek medical advice if the problem is persistent.
- When flying, contact the individual airline well ln advance for information and to make sure there's space available, especially it you've got a large dog.
Vacationing With Your Dog
A problem most owners have to face is how to care for their dog when they go on vacation. Sometimes the dog goes, too, and this obviously works well if you are traveling by car, not going a great distance, and are camping or staying in a rented apartment or cabin (so long as dogs are welcome: check before you book). Bed and breakfasts, and less often hotels and motels, occasionally allow dogs to stay with you in the room. Much less frequently, you may discover one that provides kenneling facilities. Even when it is said that “dogs are welcome,” you may find that the dog cannot be left unattended in your room, so always check the situation first.
If you cannot take your dog with you, and you have several pets to care for, the most stress-free solution is to have a friend or dog-sitter move into your home. There are new services now that help match you with a sitter online. It helps if the sitter has met the animals beforehand. Alternatively, a friend or family member may be willing to have the dog stay with them during your absence, but this is quite a responsibility to take on.
For many people, however, the only option is a boarding kennel. Owners often fret that their dog will be unhappy and pine in unfamiliar surroundings, but the majority of dogs settle in with very little fuss. Be sure to visit first. If you do not like what you see, go elsewhere. The buildings should be clean and well ventilated; to avoid infection, the dogs should be accommodated in separate rooms or cages (unless they usually live together at home). If kept outdoors, the sleeping areas should be warm and draft-free, with heating provision in cold weather. There should be a secure run or enclosure for exercise. Many kennels arrange for the dogs to have a daily walk.
Vacation Care Checklist
- Check if your dog is up to date with its booster shots.
- Have it inncoulated against kennel cough (should be done 2-3 weeks beforehand) and treat it for fleas.
- Tell the kennel staff what your dog likes to eat. Sudden changes can cause stomach upsets.
- Make a written note of any medication it's currently receiving, including its regular dewormmg treatment (if on a daily or monthly tablet).
- Pack it's sleeping blanket and some familiar toys for comfort and reassurance.
- Leave the name of your vet in case of emergencies.
- Provide a contact telephone number for yourself or other family member or friend.
My 5-year-old Poodle, Flame, is going into a kennel for the first time in her life. I am worried she may panic. What can I do to reassure her?
Send her with something familiar—her usual blanket, one of your old shirts, some toys. If you can, arrange for Flame to spend a morning or a day in the kennel first so that she gets to know the owners and surroundings. When you finally leave her, she'll know that you haven't abandoned her but will be coming back.
The house we are moving to has got a large, fenced yard. At present we live in an apartment. Will it be safe to let Ross, our 4-year-old Cocker Spaniel, run around on his own, or will he try to escape? You often read stories of dogs that have gotten lost and turned up months later at their old home.
Dogs love the freedom of a backyard, and provided you check the fences regularly to make sure they are secure, Ross should not come to any harm. Don't let him outside without his identity tag and collar. Then, if he does escape, he can quickly be returned to you.
I recently took charge of a 5-year-old Springer Spaniel, Jasper. He goes crazy in the car when I drive him to the park for his walk, barking and leaping around. His previous owner did not have a car. What can I do?
Jasper has learned to associate the car with going for a walk, an activity he loves. Try giving him a toy or chew to take his mind off the journey. If that fails, put Jasper in the car for short periods without taking him anywhere. Once he reacts calmly to being in the car, take him for a short journey. If he becomes excited, put him on the floor so that he can't see out. Use a car harness to secure him. Alternatively, it may help to put him in a covered traveling crate.
My Airedale, Freddie, is a real nuisance in the car. He barks at strangers, even when we are halted at traffic intersections. How do I get him to stop?
Car-guarding is a form of territorial behavior. You can prevent it by having a water pistol ready, and when Freddie barks or growls at a passerby, aim a jet of water at him. Reward him if he allows someone to walk past the car without barking at them. Reduce the stimulation of the journey by placing him so that he cannot see out the window. If he continues to show aggression, obtain professional help.