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Traveling With Your Pets

May 20, 2020

One of the reasons I don’t travel much is I hate leaving my dogs. Not a day away from home and I’m missing them.

My first dog, Jitterbug, entered my life at the perfect time.With my ailing mother on the East Coast, I had to fly to New Jersey a lot. Because Jitterbug was a terrific traveling companion, I wasn’t quite as homesick for my dogs, because I got to take one of them with me.

Will travel with your family pet be as easy? Before deciding to bring your pet on your next family trip, give the idea some serious thought. Remember when your kids were tiny, and travel meant careful planning to ensure that nothing went wrong? It’s like that.

We’ll focus on dogs, because they’re the most likely pets to accompany us on our journeys. But keep in mind that many aspects involving travel with dogs also apply to other animals.

Preparation

Travel with a pet means bringing food, sleeping material and maybe toys or other things to keep your buddy amused. Do you have room to bring along what’s needed?

What kind of traveler is your pet? Does Fido get sick in the car? Can he ride quietly for hours on end? Will he bark at every person, building or vehicle you pass? How long can he go without a potty break?

What’s your pet’s personality like? Is she outgoing? Does she enjoy discovering new places and people? How does she feel about other animals?

If your reaction to these questions is negative, you might consider other options. But if you know your animal will enjoy the outing, read on.

How will you travel?

If by auto, do you have a way to safely contain your pet? A sudden stop can turn even the smallest unrestrained dog into a projectile. A crate or some type of restraining system is best for everyone in the vehicle. Don’t forget fresh water and to factor potty breaks into your driving time.

Taking a plane? Dogs in the cabin must ride in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. The only dogs that can ride unrestrained in the cabin are service dogs, and don’t get the idea that you can quickly label your pet as such so he can roam about the cabin. The Transportation Department in January proposed a rule cracking down on airline passengers labeling their pets as emotional support animals.

Bigger dogs must ride in a specific kind of crate in cargo. Are you comfortable with that? Dogs have been lost and transported to the wrong airport when transported in cargo.

Buses and trains generally don’t allow dogs on board.

Playtime

What are your plans once you arrive at your destination? If they don’t include lots of things you can do with your dog, you might reconsider bringing her along. Many hotels either don’t allow pets to stay in rooms unaccompanied – meaning someone in your party will have to miss out on the fun if that’s what you were planning – or charge for day care services. If your idea is to put your pet in day care, reconsideration is again in order. It likely will be stressful to be in a strange place far from home, surrounded by strangers.

If you’d like to adventure with your pet, options are plenty. But check them out before you hit the road. Some places require reservations; others limit the number of pets allowed at any given time, require that they be leashed or in carriers, or limit the size and type of animal.

When all is said and done, if you decide to bring Fido along, pack up and have a great time. And take lots of pictures.

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