Planning a Vacation With a Dog

Planning a vacation with a dog requires advance planning if you want your trip to be fun for both you and your dog.

The most important things you’ll need to do before taking your summer trip:
Pack a first aid kit. Doggie first aid kits are for sale at your local pet store or pharmacy. If you have the time you can make your own. Include a pair of tweezers to remove ticks, a pair of scissors, adhesive tape, eyewash or drops, gauze bandage, and antiseptic lotion or cream.

Make a copy of your dog’s vaccination records. In case there’s an emergency while you’re away from home you’ll have the important information to show an emergency vet.

Take your pet’s collar and leash for use when you take your dog outside your car or RV. Whenever you take your dog for potty breaks be sure to put its collar on and attach it to a leash. Being in a strange environment with new, unique smells, makes it difficult for any dog to resist checking out everything it can. If your dog is not on a leash it could run off and be hit by a car or get lost. Be sure your phone number is on the current dog tag attached to your pet’s collar or harness. Since most people travel with cell phones, you may want to engrave that number on your dog’s tag.

Take along your dog’s favorite foods so there’ll be no upset stomach from eating different and strange foods. If your dog only drinks water from home, take along as much drinking water as you can and use bottled water whenever possible.

If you need have leather seats in your car, cover them with blankets, towels, or old sheets. You can also use the sheets to cover furniture in a hotel room if your dog is used to sleeping on your bed or sofa. Use towels to clean your dog’s paws after playing in the mud or dirt. And don’t forget the TOYS!. You can help ease the discomfort of traveling by bringing as many of your pet’s toys as you can fit in your vehicle. The familiar smells of a favorite blanket and plenty of chew toys will help calm even the most sensitive dog.

When planning your vacation with your dog and you intend to stay in a hotel, be sure to call the hotel before leaving home to confirm that it’s okay to have your pet in the room with you. Don’t make the same mistake I did when I took my dog on an overnight trip to a small town in Oregon. It was not a pleasant experience arriving at my hotel and finding out they had a new “No Pets Allowed” policy. The worst part about it was trying to find another pet-friendly hotel at 9 o’clock at night. Luckily my dog is such a sweet, loving and gentle animal, the clerk at a smaller hotel took pity on us and gave me a room on the first floor.

When making hotel reservations, choose appropriate accommodations if your pet has behavior issues, like barking at all strange sounds or being aggressive when the cleaning staff is in the room – especially if you’ve left your dog alone. A ground-floor room is best and a corner is your wisest choice if unfamiliar noises easily disturb your dog.

The goal is for you, your pet, and all the other guests to enjoy their stay.

The biggest concern non-dog owners have about pet friendly accommodations is the belief they will be disturbed by a barking dog during their stay. If the hotel’s rules allow you to leave your pet unattended in the room be sure you place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, notify the front desk and leave your cell phone number with them in case there is an emergency. Turn on the television to cover any outside noises that might disturb your dog. Animal Planet is a great channel for dogs to watch. I say this from experience with my own dog. I tune the TV to Animal Planet and tell him to “stay.” When I return my dog is absorbed in watching TV.

If your dog has separation issues, do not leave it alone in a hotel room, even if the rules permit it. Check with the front desk for information on pet sitters.

If you allow your pet on your furniture at home it will likely want to jump up on the furniture in your hotel room. Bring a couple of old sheets to cover the furniture your pet will be sleeping on or resting on.

Planning a vacation with a dog will ensure a happier and less stressful trip if you take a few simple steps before leaving home.