When it comes time to take a trip out of town, many pet parents face the same dilemma: It’s not easy to find care arrangements you feel comfortable with, but traveling with a dog makes it difficult to enjoy your getaway. Take heart, dog lovers — a trip with your beloved pooch doesn’t need to be a stressful ordeal. Instead, make a doggy-inspired to-do list to make sure you and your best friend have the relaxing vacation you deserve.
Bring the right supplies
Make a list of what types of activities you and your dog will enjoy both during transport and at the destination. For instance, a hiking vacation requires lots of water, a portable dog bowl and plenty of layers to keep your temperature regulated. Your dog may require more treats and high-protein snacks if your vacation is especially active and spent outdoors. For indoor relaxation at a cabin or urban hotel, bring along plenty of chew toys to keep your dog busy, so he isn’t bored and barking for the neighbors to hear.
Be prepared in an emergency
You may have already packed your emergency contact list, backup medications and details of your travel insurance policy. But your dog needs his own emergency preparedness strategy. Write down his microchip information in case he gets lost, the names of his medications in case you lose them, and the number of your vet as well as one in your vacation area. Use a cloud storage system like Mozy to automatically back up your computer so all your files and important documents are readily available on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Find pet-friendly accommodations
Not all pet-friendly accommodations are created equal. Find out if your hotel, apartment or vacation rental has a mini-fridge to keep any medications and snacks cold. Ask about any additional pet or room cleaning fees and about nearby dog runs and parks. Some hotels may have a policy about not leaving dogs unattended in rooms. This may sound fine in theory, but you’ll need a plan if you’re going to enjoy the continental breakfast or grab a quick drink with a friend.
Keep your dog calm
Your dog may love a car ride, but driving for an entire day or two could frustrate him or make him stir crazy. And being separated from you on an airplane, or being stowed underneath a seat in a dog carrier, could create a frenzy of anxiety. Ask your veterinarian if she recommends calming medications or something to make your dog sleep. Otherwise, dog expert Cesar Millan recommends relying on one-on-one attention, plenty of playtime and natural soothing agents to help keep your dog calm. Rubbing some diluted lavender on your dog’s paws could help them relax and calm down enough to enjoy the ride or take a nap during your flight.
Find nearby fun
Figure out your game plan once you get to your destination. Even if you have activities planned with friends and family, your dog needs his own fun too. Look for parks with wide open spaces, doggie day cares that take drop-ins, MeetUp groups for dogs, dog runs and pet-friendly events in the area.