When it comes to going on vacation, it’s only natural that you want to take the most treasured members of your family with you… and in this vein, taking a dog on vacation is the most natural option for many pet owners. However, it’s not all plain sailing. Whilst dogs can add a layer of fun, warmth and comfort to your travels they can also be a restrictive force and often add additional expense to a trip.
In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the most important things to consider when travelling with your dog.
WHERE TO GO
The first thing to consider is the fact staying reasonably local, as in, within the same country can make things a lot easier. The second thing to consider is that not all climates are going to be ideal for your fury friend - particularly if you’re going somewhere extremely cold or hot.
Of course, there are accessories you can purchase to help your dog adapt, for instance, little shoes that can help your dog avoid getting burnt pads - from walking on the hot ground.
It’s important to bear in mind your dog’s individual personality too, as some dogs love adventure and change - whereas others get anxious and like to stay in familiar surroundings. This is similar to humans, so take the emotional needs of your pet in mind when considering where to go.
In a nuthsell, make sure you think about where you are heading in terms of the effect on your dog - rather than just where it is you want to go.
NAVIGATING THE REGULATIONS
Once you’ve figured out your destination, the next step is to look at a bg regulations and restrictions that might affect your trip. For instance, if you are travelling abroad, there are some countries that have particularly stringent regulations in place; such as the UK.
Your pet will most likely need to be microchipped and have proof of a rabies vaccination. However, if you are travelling to the UK or Ireland, for instance, an additional tapeworm treatment is required.
Although the prevalence of rabies has declined in recent years, countries like Australia still have quarantine in place - meaning your dog will have to me locked up for at least ten days without you being able to see them. This can be quite distressing for both pet and pet owner - particularly when you consider the distress your dog will have likely already encountered as a result of flying, particularly if they are too large to travel in the cabin with you.
It’s therefore wise to look at destinations with regulations that aren’t too strict so that you and your dog have an easy transition.
HOW TO TRAVEL
When it comes to “how to travel” this is very much dependent on where it is you are going. Of course, car is the most convenient and comfortable option for both dog and owner… yet, options exist for almost all types of public transport, including planes.
Each different type of transport has a different type of challenge. Let’s take a look at a transatlantic flight, for instance. With regard to the options - the best option is to bring your dog with you, in the cabin… the alternative, is to include your dog on the same flight as you, but in the hold (usually there’s a size restriction on animals that can travel in the cabin with you). Finally, you could transport your dog, separately, on a cargo flight.
Most airlines have regulations regarding the size of your dog, in terms of bringing him or her into the cabin (46 cm length x 28 cm width x 24 cm height) and a maximum weight of 8kg.
Unfortunately, if your dog is in the cabin with you, you’re not allowed to take him or her out of their carry case - as they will be treated as carry on luggage, meaning, you can’t walk them up or down the aisle, or have them cuddle up on your lap. This can be quite a stressful and upsetting experience, particularly if your dog is in distress.
If your dog is too big to fly in the cabin, the next option is to be transport your dog as ‘checked baggage’. The pressure and temperature are regulated within the hold, so it’s not quite as grim as it sounds - but it does have risks, in that you are leaving your dog completely unattended and there’s no access during flight.
Perhaps, the most pleasant option, yet also the most expensive option, is to arrange for your dog to fly on a specialist cargo plane - where a team of employees will look after your dog. The only downside is that your dog will not arrive at the same time as you, yet, given the enhanced comfort of a cargo plane - i.e. bigger cage, it might be a better option.
In fact, when flying into some countries such as the UK, due to strict rabies regulations, the only option you will have is to use a professional cargo company. It might therefore be cheaper to fly into a nearby country such as France or Belgium and cross the channel via the Euro tunnel or ferry.
Some boat companies have kennels on the the boat, whilst others insist your dog remain in the car.
WHERE TO STAY
When it comes to finding vacation rentals that allow dogs, more and more hotels, hostels and even restaurants are changing their policies to be more dog friendly. There seems to be a paradigm shift, particularly in rural communities, where dogs are viewed in a similar light to children - in that well behaved dogs are welcomed and treated very positively.
Bringing your dog with you, to a hotel, for instance has never been more convenient. Some hotels request an additional charge to cover the enhanced need for cleaning (i.e. to get dog hair out the carpet) and there are websites such as Bring Fido that can be helpful in working out where you can travel with your dog.
It might be worth confirming with the venue that their pet policy hasn’t changed, however, as the last thing you want is to turn up at a nice hotel to be told, in disgust, that you can’t bring your dog with you.
Another option is to look at AirBnB, as this way, you can filter pet friendly properties. Just be aware that not all dogs will get on with each other, so it’s something to consider, in terms of your dog’s personality - if they are sociable and relaxed, then it shouldn’t be a problem, but if you have a nervous or aggressive dog, it could be a bit more of an issue.
A brilliant option for many people is found in the more traditional path of camping. The benefit of camping is that almost all campsites are dog friendly, and your dog is going to be in a very engaging environment which is truly going to feel like a vacation for them too - consider the difference between staying in a fancy hotel versus, in a field or forest next to a river they can swim in!
If you love nature, then camping can be one of the best ways to travel with your dog, as whilst it might not be ‘easy’ it is relaxed, in the sense that you don’t have to worry about your dog being on his or her best behaviour.
It can be useful, however, to set up your tent in the back garden and get your dog used to the concept of camping - so they understand the boundaries and can settle in a tent. This way, you’re not going to be stressed out in the middle of nowhere if they are unable to settle in the tent.
In summary, you need to consider your travel plans from your dog’s perspective as well as your own. Whilst you might like the idea of a trip to the Bahamas, chances are your dog will not - the heat will be too high, the transportation will be too stressful, and the environment itself could prove to be stressful too if there are territorial packs in the neighbourhood. Similarly, whilst you might appreciate a posh hotel, your dog is likely to feel trapped.
In contrast, jumping in the car and heading somewhere in nature, sleeping under the stars with plenty of activities and freedom for your dog to explore can be a much more enriching experience for your dog… and it can be a huge value add to you.
There’s something about camping with a dog that enhances the trip massively, and if you don’t like the idea of camping in a tent, you could always try glamping, or rent a little cabin somewhere - that provides you with the home comfort you need, whilsy providing your dog with the value and excitement of staying somewhere in nature.
In essence, you just need to think about things from your dog’s perspective as well as your own… particularly when it comes to the thought of long haul travel by airplane.