Leaving your pet at home while you travel can be stressful for the both of you, which is why many pet owners make the decision to travel with their dogs. However, many owners struggle with the problem of how best to travel with their pets. There are many options available—traveling by car, motorcycle, or plane are just a few. But, what is the most comfortable and safe way to travel for your pet?
Traveling by car is by far the most common mode of travel your pet will likely experience. Most dogs are very excited to go for a car ride as it typically signals the beginning of an adventure to somewhere new or exciting.
Even though riding in the car may be a daily occurrence for some dogs, ensuring their safety throughout the experience is still highly important. For the same reason we wear our seatbelts, allowing your dog to roam throughout the car is not a safe option.
There are three popular options for protecting your dog in the car during a drive:
- A leash-style seatbelt. Often it is designed as a harness that allows your dog to sit up and look out the window while holding him in place in case of sudden stops.
- A seat sling, which is similar to a hammock you spread across your backseat. It prevents your pooch from accessing the back of the car and protects him from falling into the floor spaces and potentially injuring himself.
- The good, old-fashioned crate. There are a number of different styles of crates, including collapsible ones that can be taken in and out of the car easily when you are not traveling with your dog.
Although there is a small population of animals who experience car sickness, most dogs do not have any issues. If your dog experiences motion sickness, ask your vet about some potential medication options, such as CBD, that may help them to feel more comfortable.
Common habits, such as letting your dog stick his head out the window, also pose a potential danger. He can be struck by an object or become stuck if he is restrained from the inside. You may feel tempted to leave your dog unattended when running a quick errand, but you should never leave your dog alone in a vehicle. Even with the windows rolled down, the interior of your car can quickly reach dangerously high temperatures. Be cautious when traveling with your dog, and avoid placing him in harm’s way whenever possible.
Even though riding a motorcycle with your pet may seem dangerous, it can be done safely with effective training and equipment. Before considering taking your pet along with you, be sure you have a firm understanding of motorcycle safety to prevent risk of injury to yourself and any other passenger, human or dog. Once you feel comfortable, weigh your options as to how you and your dog can best travel together. There are specially designed carriers to allow you to bring your pet along with you on your motorcycle. There are specialty backpacks, crates, sidecars, and even bucket seats that allow them to ride like a human passenger behind you.
Much like training your dog to walk on a leash beside you, you can’t expect him to know how to do it without training. Motorcycles expose dogs to fast-moving air, loud sounds (including the motorcycle itself), and new sensory experiences they wouldn’t get inside a car or plane. Introduce him to the motorcycle rides slowly, perhaps with a low-speed ride around the block of your neighborhood.
Your dog will need similar safety equipment to what you wear, such as protective eyewear, in addition to a seat apparatus. It is important to restrain your dog at all times on the motorcycle to reduce the risk of injury. And of course, if he never seems to become comfortable with the motorcycle ride, you may want to explore other travel options.
There are many people who enjoy traveling by plane with their pets, such as those who travel with dogs that are small enough to travel in a TSA-approved carrier in the cabin. However, just like with any form of travel or activity, there is a certain amount of risk involved.
Dogs over 25 pounds are required to travel in the cargo hold. In the cargo area, the temperature is not as closely regulated as the cabin, and your pet can experience extreme temperature fluctuations. Dogs with brachycephalic faces—short noses like those of boxers and pugs—have a higher risk of danger of asphyxiation due to being prone to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. If you are able, it is best to take your dog with you in the cabin of the plane to ensure his safety.
There are many rules and regulations to follow when traveling by plane. Crate specifications must be followed exactly as stated in their regulations or your pet will not be allowed to board. Be sure to contact your airline directly to prevent any complications on the day of your flight.
Traveling with your dog should be fun, not stressful. Ensuring your dog’s safety and comfort will allow you both to arrive at your destination ready for a good time. It will take time to explore the travel methods that work best for you and your dog. When in doubt, leave your pet at home with a trusted pet sitter or boarded at a reputable kennel.