Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dog Etiquette: Considering Others When You Travel

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© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2008


Jacque Sleeps Soundly
in his Travel Crate
with his "Blankie" from Home

I am planning a trip to visit family soon, and intend to take one or two of the dogs along. They enjoy car trips and travel well. In preparing for this, I remembered some dog owners' horror stories. A few of these disasters could easily have been avoided with the right preparation.

While checking for accommodations on Dog Friendly, a travel accommodations site for pet owners, I found these few tips on doggie etiquette. I'd like to add a few of my own. I'll throw in some travel tips too:
  • Never travel without a crate, even if your dog does not usually sleep in one. Strange places, smells, sounds, etc. can create a bit of anxiety in your dog. A crate with a pillow that smells like you or your dog will give him a bit more comfort and less anxious concern over the change of surroundings.

  • Speak with your vet about treatments for nausea from car or air sickness and anxiety.

  • Prior to a trip, feed only minimally, and only if your dog is not usually one to get sick during travel. You can provide treats occasionally as you travel, to keep his tummy rumbles at bay.

  • Rather than providing water during travel, pack a lunchbox-sized cooler with ice cubes. If traveling by car, drop ice cubes into his travel crate periodically, to assure he gets adequate fluids.

  • When you travel by plane, remove water at least one hour before departure. Limit fluids to less than his usual intake for the time you will be away from an appropriate potty spot. Be sure that you have his travel crate lined with an absorbent towel, just in case.

  • Be sure to bring along a health certificate if you are crossing state lines. Many vets charge a small fee for this, but regular "customers" might get them free. Fortunately, my vet provides these free.

  • Pack enough food, treats and poop bags for a few extra days, just in case your trip is extended unexpectedly.

  • Choose a few of your dog's favorite toys to pull out on occasions when he needs brief entertainment.

  • If you must leave your dog in a friend or family member's home while you go out for several hours, use the crate to assure the safety of both dog and owner's home. I always travel with baked cow bones or kongs, and fill them with dog food. When frozen, they provide hours of enjoyment while your dog is in a crate. The bones cannot be eaten, but the frozen dog food can be licked and dug out of the crevice for quite sometime.


  • While I know that the link above indicates that dogs should not be left alone in a hotel room, I would offer this advice, when necessity requires it. In the absence of a temperature controlled vehicle with a crate, many dog-friendly hotels simply ask that you place your dog in a crate, if he must be left behind for a brief period. Be considerate of neighboring rooms, if you know your dog is a yapper. Consider asking for a room in the back of the hotel, for instance. Finally, place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the room door whenever you leave your dog, to assure he will not accidentally be released from his crate by a brush of the vacuum cleaner. If you own a Houdini, consider an extra hook closure to assure your pup does not escape his crate on his own.

  • Prior to leaving your dog for several hours, always take the dog on a long, brisk walk or perhaps a jog. A tired dog will naturally want to rest when invited into his crate. Don't forget to praise and treat him each time he enters his crate, and whenever you return to find him happily well-behaved inside his crate. This will reinforce his good behavior, making future outings increasingly easier.

  • Finally, if you plan a day's outing, beyond the capacity of your pup's bladder control, here's my advice. When my daughter and I took Oliver out of state once, we found called a few vets, asking about pet sitters that they could recommend. One had a vet tech who liked to pet sit on her day off. She took him in to play with her little Miniature Poodle and the two had a wonderful day. It could not have worked out more perfectly.

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