With the vacation season upon us, many are planning trips to visit family and friends and to sight see at new destinations. Our dogs are a huge piece to our family and you might feel like the trip wouldn’t be complete without their wagging tail. Here are some tips, tricks, do’s and don’ts for traveling with your dog.

Should You Take Your Dog Along?

Before setting out to grandma’s house, take a moment to think if you should be bringing your dog with you.

  • Does your dog suffer from motion sickness? If so, spending 4 hours in the car with a sick pup wouldn’t be good for you or them.
  • Does the home/destination I am going to want my dog there as much as I do? Our dogs could do anything and we would still love them but others might not be so enthusiastic about your dog’s cute drool after they drink and hilarious tumble weeds that roll past your feet.
  • Would the trip be fun from your dog’s point of view? Will you be able to take your dog with you on activities or will they be left behind most of the time? It’s better to recognize that a trip wouldn’t be so fun for your dog and instead let them have their own fun vacation with their friends!
  • What’s the temperature? If the temperature is hot, not only is it taxing on your dog but there is zero possibility to leave them in the car and walking outside might not even be possible. If it is 25◦ Celsius outside, your car can exceed 45◦ Celsius even with the windows partially down. If the outside temperature is 25◦ Celsius, asphalt can reach 52◦


Preparing For The Trip

One of my favourite sayings is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Here are things to do and bring to make your trip fun and safe.

  • A day or two before leaving, give your dog a good amount of exercise. Drop them off at daycare to burn down energy so that they are able to relax for the trip.
  • A week or two before leaving, brush up on a few obedience skills. You will need to communicate to your dog to wait, stay, heel, come, sit, down etc so brush up on your skills at home, with a trainer or drop into a specialty class.
  • Plan your trip and ensure your rest stops and places you will sleep and eat are pet friendly. There are over 8 Dogtopia’s across Canada and 44 across the United States. Check which ones are along your route. You could drop your dog off to burn energy and give you time to shop or sight see.
  • Bring your dog’s up to date vaccine records and tags. You will need these for crossing the border, boarding/daycare and if a local animal control officer requests to see them.
  • Bring a collar with you and ensure it is fitted properly to your dog’s neck. Martingales are a type of collar that can prevent your dog from slipping out of it. Check that your leash is functional and doesn’t have any rips. Many cities have 6ft leash by-laws so avoid bringing retractable or extra-long leashes.
  • You’re going to be wearing a seatbelt and so should your dog. An alternative is to have your dog in a crate. Never put your dog in the bed of a truck.
  • Dog first aid kits can be purchased at local pet stores or if you have time you can prepare one yourself.
  • Kids aren’t the only ones that get bored on a trip! Pack some toys and IQ games from home so that the smell is familiar and it can help pass some time.
  • Pack all of your dog’s essentials like food, water, bed, poops bags, toys and medication. Put a little thought into what is going into which bag and where that bag will be placed in your car so that you aren’t struggling to find things.

Along The Way

  • Feed your dog a light meal 3 to 4 hours prior to departure. Along the way, never feed your dog in a moving vehicle and give them 30 min to an hour after eating before driving again.
  • We would be devastated if our dog got away from us and especially in an unfamiliar area. Before exiting your car, put your dog’s leash and collar on. When opening the door or hatch, open it slowly and grasp your leash.
  • Utilize the Dogtopia’s along the way to expend pent up energy. You can also search for dog parks and dog friendly rest stops.
  • Play games in the car with your dog like Its Your Choice and other impulse games. To learn these and other games, ask your trainer at Dogtopia.

Arrived At Our Destination

  • We’ve finally arrived! Our legs need a stretch and so do your dogs. Before unpacking or checking into a hotel, give your dog some exercise. This will make your arrival to a house or hotel much smoother.
  • Try to stick to your dog’s regular home schedule to help decrease stress. This includes feeding, walking and exercise routines.
  • Remember that most hotels do not allow you to leave your pet unattended. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy yourself. Use the research you did before departing and find local pet friendly restaurants and activities.

Traveling Isn’t Right For My Dog

Never fear, Dogtopia is here! While you are away we treat your dog like they are ours. If bringing your pet with you isn’t going to be enjoyable for either you or them than we will ensure they have the best vacation. Your dog will play with all of the furry friends in climate controlled environments and enjoy all of the comforts from home. You can also have a bed time story read to them, go on a thrilling walk or have our trainer teach them fun or practical skills!

Have a fun and safe vacation!