Getting Your Dog Comfortable With Travel


Planning, Preparation and Problem Solving: Getting Your Dog Comfortable With Travel

By Nick Burton (author of


Dogs are creatures of habit and many don’t take well to sudden disruptions in their environment. You can try to prepare a dog for traveling by plane or car, but he’ll probably be antsy confined to a crate, cage or in the cramped space of a vehicle no matter what you do. Planning ahead and making arrangements for your pet’s comfort and safety can mitigate some of his anxiety and make things just a bit easier for you. Here are a few pointers for easing what can be a rough experience for both dog and owner:


Getting acclimated

The more you can do to make your dog’s crate feel like a safe place, the easier things will be when it’s time to hit the road. If your dog has never been inside a crate, spend some time helping him get used to it. Don’t lock him in; let him investigate on his own. Make sure his crate is large enough to accommodate his body size and allows him to move and lay down without feeling cramped. If he’s traveling by plane, he’ll be in close proximity to ground crew and cargo handlers, so let him spend some time around people, perhaps at a local park or by walking around the neighborhood. 

If you’ll be traveling by car, take your pooch with you on weekend errands. When you think he’s ready, take him along for a two or three-hour drive prior to your trip together. It may not put him fully at ease but getting your dog accustomed to riding in a car should help when departure day rolls around. 

When it comes to packing, keep his needs and comfort in mind. You should make sure to have food and water bowls, a leash, bedding and any toys or objects your pet finds comforting. Don’t forget to check into other useful items, like dog harnesses, collapsible water bowls, and dog beds. You may also want to pick up a GPS collar for your pup just in case he somehow gets lost. Do some online research and read product reviews and customer comments before purchasing a collar. 


Dog-friendly destinations and accommodations

If you’re looking for a dog-friendly destination, there are plenty of places throughout the Southwest that cater to canines. From Phoenix to Santa Fe to Colorado springs, you and your dog can camp out or find rentals and dog-friendly hotels in destinations of great natural beauty.

If you’re in need of a hotel chain that’ll welcome your pooch, check out Red Roof Inn, which won’t charge a pet fee. Motel 6, Travel Inn, Travelodge and La Quinta Inn are other popular and welcoming dog-friendly chains. While you’re on the road, nip into Dairy Queen, In-N-Out Burger, Starbucks, or Sonic for some pet-friendly pit stops.  


Pet sitting

Chances are you won’t be able to spend every minute with your pet during your time away from home together. Before you leave for your trip, check online for pet sitters who can help him stay active and keep him company when you’re visiting places that aren’t pet-friendly. A professional pet sitter can help your dog relax by keeping him happily distracted when you’re not present.


ID and records

You can’t have too much ID when traveling with a pet. Your dog should always travel with tags that include his name and your contact information (phone, email, etc.), and take his rabies tag along as well. He should also be microchipped so he can be found with a simple scan if he gets loose. Find out what medical and vaccination records will be required by the airline or at your destination and keep copies throughout your travels, since requirements vary depending on the carrier. 


Pet stops

Do your four-legged friend a big favor and make plenty of “pet stops” along the way if going by car. Roadside rest stops provide a green space with enough room for your pup to stretch his legs and play a bit. Keep an eye on his body language and behavior in the car. If you hear him whining or yelping, he’s probably trying to tell you it’s time for a potty break or that he needs to get out for a few minutes. 

Traveling with a pet is always a challenge, no matter how hard you prepare. Often, the best you can do is minimize the likelihood of an unpleasant surprise, but it’s difficult to foresee every hurdle. Think ahead and plan accordingly based on a knowledge of your pet’s personality and your own travel savvy. 

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