Dog owners consider their four-legged friends to be family members. So it’s natural that a lot of people want to take their dogs traveling with them. Luckily, this can be perfectly doable with some planning.
Medical issues can be a travel anxiety trigger for dogs. Schedule a vet visit to make sure your pet is healthy and shots are up to date. Doggie daycares require proof of vaccination, as do airlines and trains. Check with the airline or train service to see which vaccinations are required and whether the vet recommends a sedative for the potentially stressful event.
Plane or Train
If you plan to take your dog with you on a plane or train, call ahead to see what the current policies are. Most airlines and trains allow smaller pets that fit into carry-on sized cases to travel next to you. If your pet is too big for that, then you may have to put it into the cargo area.
If your dog is in a travel carrier, make sure to bring along some potty pads, which you can place inside the crate.
A good option for traveling with dogs is in the car. You can stop at as many places as you want for food, rest, and potty breaks, but there are some safety rules you should follow. Many people allow their dog to roam free in the car, but this is plain hazardous. If you get into an accident, even a minor one, your dog will likely bounce around the car and get hurt, or he may even hurt you by accident. This is why the safest way to travel with your dog is to have him secured in a crate.
And of course, never leave your dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes. For this reason, it makes sense to travel with another person, allowing you to take turns watching the dog.
Remember, you won’t have access to all your regular household items, in addition to your dog’s food, water bowl, bedding, and treats. So you might consider picking up some specialty items that will make things more convenient.
The last thing you want to do is bring a dirty-footed pooch into a carpeted hotel room and lose your deposit. About the size of a large travel mug, a Paw Plunger lets you clean your dog’s paws without muddying up towels. Just stick the dog’s paws in, one at a time, and let warm water and the built-in brushes do the work. The Absorber Towel packs down small but is super absorbent.
Pet wipes, which you can pick up at any pet store, are good for those times when your dog’s a little dirty or smelly, but you can’t do a bath at the moment. A backpack carrier for a small dog might be a wise investment. The Bubble Carrier has a hard case, is airline compliant, and lets your dog see the world clearly while letting you keep your hands free.
There may be activities you want to do at places that don't allow dogs. You’ll want to plan those activities on the days you can reserve a kennel space. Many cities have businesses offering cage-free doggie daycare services. Ask your hotel for recommendations.
Some attractions have kennels on the premises. Sea World in San Diego, for example, has kennel services on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a fee, however, and you must bring your own water, food, and comfort items.
Dogs and Public Transportation
If you don’t have your own vehicle, taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts may allow dogs, depending on the driver. Always ask beforehand, and remember to tip well.
Most public transportation systems only allow service dogs or dogs that can be secured in a carrier. Be sure to check the system’s policies.
Hotels and Motels
Of course, you’re going to need to find a hotel or motel. Many now let you have a dog in your room, which usually involves a smallish extra fee. You can ask your favorite ones—perhaps where you’re a member—use this guide, or call ahead to the places you’re interested in.
Also, check the pet policy at your favorite motels. For example, Best Western’s general policy is to allow two dogs of up to 80 pounds per animal, per room, for an additional fee. Some may allow cats and other animals—it’s a good idea to call ahead to the specific Best Western you will be staying at, because some owners may have different policies.
Where should you go with your pooch? On the West Coast, Los Angeles is a super dog-friendly city. People are known for taking their dogs everywhere. Many restaurants welcome dogs on the patio; simply call ahead and check out the restaurant’s website or Yelp reviews to see if they do.
In LA, try out Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach. Parking is metered in the lot or free on the street—check signage carefully for hours and changes. The park is four acres.
One place you might not expect to be dog-friendly is a music store. However, Amoeba Music, which has records and live concerts, is one such store. It’s a popular haunt for local musicians and music fans alike.
San Diego, just south of LA, is another dog-friendly city with plenty of dog-welcoming activities. It’s home to Fiesta Island, named the best dog park in the entire U.S. Fiesta Island’s dog park is a whopping 90 acres and consists of meadow-like land and beaches where dogs can play in the calm waters of Mission Bay.
On the East Coast, NYC is known for being one of the most dog-friendly major cities. NYC restaurants now allow dogs to be on patios at restaurants. Here’s a list of 30 restaurants that welcome dogs. Each borough also has a dog run for dogs to get their energy out.
If you’re more the outdoorsy type, look into national parks. Most allow dogs to be leashed in the picnic, scenic, and camping areas, but not on hiking trails. Always check with the park before you go, because you might have to change your plans or reserve a kennel for that day. Read more lifestyle tips before you hit the road with your pet to ensure you are prepared for any potential travel woes.