Tips to Take Your Dog on Vacation (+ What to Do When You Can’t)

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Interested in taking your dog on vacation with you?

If you’re an animal lover like me, some of the best vacations you’ve been on have been with your best furry friend. Whether it’s a local day trip, a long weekend, or more, being with your dog(s) can make for a memorable experience.

To be sure you have a great time and your dog is safe, there’s a lot to consider before bringing him along. Here is what you need to know before taking your dog on vacation and how to be sure you’ll both have a great time.

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Driving with Your Dog

What could be more fun than taking your dog on vacation when you take a road trip? Especially if your dog loves riding in the car like mine does. It takes some planning, whether you’re going somewhere locally or going on a road trip for days or more.

You want to be sure you have what you need to make it as safe and fun as possible because road trips should be all about fun!

Safety Considerations for Driving with a Dog

One of the first things to think about when you’re driving and taking your dog on vacation is their safety in your car. This includes things like where they will sit—front seat or backseat. And also, if you will secure them and how. Will you crate your dog, use a harness, or leave them freely sitting in your car?

There are other safety considerations as well, like making sure they have a collar with tags on. It’s also a good idea to consider microchipping them, too, as you never know what might happen.

A friend of mine got into a car accident. It wasn’t her fault—she was hit, but her dog was ejected from the car. He was a “fear dog,” and he ran off as he was very anxious about the accident.

He could be very fearful of people and new situations, so getting him secured safely wasn’t easy. Thankfully, he turned out ok, but this situation is something to consider before taking your dog for a ride.

Other safety considerations include how you’ll manage stops. You might need to run in somewhere to go to the bathroom or to grab a snack. Will your dog be ok left alone in the car? What’s the temperature like where you’re going?

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Make Sure Your Dog is Allowed

You’ll probably think to make sure you can take your dog on vacation where you’re going, whether it be to a local place or a far-off destination. You’ll also want to be sure if you need to stop at a hotel or to sleep somewhere, that your dog is allowed there, too.

It’s a good idea to be prepared along your route in case you need to make an unexpected stop as well.

What Should You Bring?

If you’re packing a bag for yourself, and even if you’re not, you will need to give some thought to what to bring for your dog. Whether it’s a few hours or a few weeks, there are certain things you’ll need to bring for your dog.

At a minimum, you’ll need a leash and collar or harness (or both!) You’ll also probably want to bring a bowl and water.

For longer trips, you may need to bring more. This includes food, medications, and other items that your dog will want or need when you’re away from home for a longer period of time.

Grab my handy dog packing list by signing up below. And, added bonus, you’ll score my newsletter with updates, travel tips, and more.

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Flying with Your Dog

If you want to go further and take your dog on vacation, you might consider flying with them. Some of the considerations are similar to driving with your dog, though there’s a lot more to think about.

Where Will Your Dog Be for the Flight?

Dogs are allowed on most flights. However, where they will fly will largely depend on their size. They have to be under a certain weight and size to be able to join you on the plane. If approved, they must be in a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you.

Larger dogs need to go in cargo, and there are separate requirements for dogs traveling there. The specific requirements, whether your dog will fly with you or in cargo, are established by each airline. So, be sure to check their policies and requirements before booking your flight.

These requirements can get quite detailed, and they will vary widely. Rules are based on the type of animal you have, their size, the airline, and where you’re going. For more details and helpful links so you can consider all that you need to, check out this post on flying with your pet.

grey and white cat wearing a purple harness, cat with beautiful blue eyes

Check Country Requirements

If you’re flying to another country, you need to check not only airline requirements but also country requirements. Some require a health certificate or a rabies certificate. Others have additional requirements for paperwork with the government.

It’s a good idea to check directly with the government sites, though they can be challenging to find. Your airline may provide a link or do some digging. Facebook groups can be a good source of information, but be sure to check direct government sources as well, as things can change.

Also, check into the return trip to your home country. I learned this one recently when traveling with my dog, Jagger. The country I planned to visit is considered a rabies risk by the US, so getting back into the country with him would be a bit more challenging.

What Should You Bring?

The things you need to pack are the same as those for a longer driving trip. This includes things like food, medications, a leash and collar and/or harness, and others in the section on driving with dogs and other things you’ll need while traveling and when you get to your destination.

Scroll up to grab a copy of my packing list!

You’ll also need to determine where your dog will fly to make sure you have a crate or carrier that’s approved by the airline. If your dog will fly in cargo, a crate is required that meets certain standards.

If your dog is small enough to fly with you on the plane, you’ll need an approved carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you.

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Dining with Your Dog

What could be more fun than eating out at a restaurant with your bestie? Before you head out, make sure your dog is allowed at the restaurant. I have learned the hard way that even if a restaurant has a patio, it doesn’t mean they will welcome your pup. Some restaurants really cater to the animal-loving crowds, though not all do.

If you’re on a road trip or traveling away from home, it’s essential to check if restaurants are dog-friendly. You’ll want to be sure you have a few options to make sure you can have a meal with him. Otherwise, you’ll need to leave them in your car and plan for that.

Will Your Dog Behave?

You’ll want to be sure your pup will behave as you don’t want to be the reason a restaurant changes its pet policy! It really can be a lot of fun, but it’s not for every dog. It’s important to know your dog’s limitations before bringing them to a restaurant. Take them for a trial run at an off-hour before bringing them during busy times to make sure they will enjoy it and behave.

If your dog is anxious, especially around people and in new situations, they may not enjoy dining out with you. If your dog has a high energy level, you’ll want to really tire them out before going to a restaurant. And also, consider if your dog enjoys being around other dogs.

Other dog lovers may bring their dogs to the same restaurant, so you’ll want to think about how your dog behaves around others to make sure it’s a good idea.

People often assume that if you’re bringing your dog, he’s good around other dogs. One of my dogs is good around other dogs, though doesn’t like other dogs in his face if he doesn’t know them.

Because I have learned with him, I always ask other owners if mine can approach before we do. And I very carefully monitor them. But not all do, so it’s something to be prepared for.

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Know the Space Your Dog Needs

What to Bring for Your Dog to a Restaurant

Some restaurants will really cater to your dog. Many of my favorite restaurants in Phoenix bring a water bowl before they even bring a menu, and I love that! You’ll find dog-friendly restaurants that even have dog menus, and others have dishes or treats for your dog. They are either complementary, or you pay a small amount for them.

If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea, at a minimum, to bring a bowl and water. It’s a nice idea to bring some of your favorite dog’s treats unless you plan to share what you get. 🙂

If the weather is hot or even cold, consider bringing a blanket for your dog to sit on. And, of course, if the weather is extreme, you probably shouldn’t bring your dog.

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And if you do share, make sure what you get is dog-friendly. One of my go-to places in Phoenix likes to give dogs a piece of meatloaf. Such a nice idea, though meatloaf often has onions in it, which aren’t good for dogs.

My pup had quite an upset tummy that night. (Though it may have been from the volume of rich food he’s not used to eating.)

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Dutchess and a Monstrous Plate of Food

What to Do When You Can’t Take Your Dog

You won’t always be able to take your dog with you when you travel. So, what are your options? There are many of them to consider when you think about what would be best for your dog.

Pet Care Options for When You Travel

You can bring your dog(s) to a boarding facility specifically made to care for pets. It can be a great option for more dedicated time with your dog, depending on the type of facility.

Some offer dog daycare and boarding, so your dog will have the companionship of other dogs and people. However, not all dogs will do well in dog daycare. And not all dogs do well with traditional boarding, where they are let outside a few times a day.

You can also ask friends and/or family to watch your pet(s) when you travel. This could be at their house or at yours, where they visit a couple of times a day. Whether this is the best option for you depends on your dog’s needs and personality.

Staying home can be more comfortable for many pets. However, a visit or two a day may not be enough time for needy dogs (like mine!) And going to someone else’s home will depend if it’s a good fit for your dog and their family.

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Another option is to hire a petsitter; you have multiple options. You can hire a “professional” petsitter who is part of a petsitting organization.

Another option, and the one I use, is to hire a vet tech from my vet’s office. The benefit is you get your vet’s recommendation, and they often have your vet’s cell phone number in case of emergency.

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, and it depends on your situation, your budget, and your dog’s needs.

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Best Sitter in the World, “Auntie” Trilby, and Che

Taking your dog on vacation can be a really fun and rewarding experience if you’re prepared. If you can’t bring them along, ensuring they have the care they need to feel safe and comfortable is important. The great thing is there are lots of options to choose from!

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