Exploring the True Great North – Dog Travel Tips

This year is Canada’s 150th Birthday! Well, 1050th birthday if you count it in dog years. That’s a lot of time, and we want to help you make the most of the years ahead. Canada is a global destination for its rich diversity, outdoor majesty, and kind hearted people. We at GoFetch believe that you should try to exploit the fact that you live in this country, and head out on a little trip! Now, what trip would be complete without a few friends? This post is dedicated to your pup, and how, using these dog travel tips, you can safely travel the Great True North! All the imagery in this post is from Aspen the Mountain Pup – make sure to follow them for even more doggone adventures!

Aspen enjoying the freshly fallen snow

Dog Travel Tips – Preparing for the Journey

Basic Health & Safety

Once you’ve planned out the ideal route, picked the places to stop, and all those fantastic selfie opportunities, it’s time to turn your attention to your pup. Bring your dog to your usual vet for a quick check up before going on an extended trip. Make sure all of their vaccinations are up to date, and keep a copy of the shot records with you. As a heads up to our later section, health certifications are required for airline travel.

While on the road, make sure to bring along a supply of their regular food, and some local, or bottled, water. Don’t forget your medication, or your pup’s!

It can be hard to get out of the comfy bed, especially when there is a long trip ahead 

Dog Crates

We know you don’t like putting your dog in a crate. After all, would you like to be in one? However you feel, it is a fact that your dog is safer inside their crate when traveling, than outside one. It is also required for a airline travel. When looking for a new crate, or determining if the one you have is the right one, keep in the mind the following:

  • Large enough to allow your dog to stand, turn and lie down.
  • Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
  • Leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material.
  • Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
  • “Live Animal” label, arrows upright, with owner’s name, address and phone number.
  • Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy, and a water bottle, and your dog is ready to go.

Use the crate or not use the crate? That is the question

Getting your dog comfortable with their Crate

This is one of the dog travel tips that is important to perfect. If your dog is not used to being in a crate, then gently ease them into the environment. The most important thing you can do is make sure your dog has been well exercised before they go in the crate. If your pup has burned off their excess energy, they’ll be more inclined to rest!

Keep your energy positive. Don’t present the crate like it’s a prison! Show your dog the crate and open the door (please don’t shove your pup in the crate). Let your dog go into the crate on his own – when they’re inside and comfortable, you can close the door. Walk away with good energy and body language.

Finally, come back in 15-20 minutes. Doing this multiple times over a few days will help ease your dog’s separation anxiety the next time you have to put them in their crate. Remember that you’re not projecting that the crate as bad thing. Just open the door and your pup can come out when they’re ready! If you are travelling short distances, or are able to secure your pup safely, then a crate may not be necessary. Use your best judgement – they are your best friend after all!

 A safe dog is a happy dog! The little red hiking booties don’t hurt either 

Identification

Perhaps one of the most important dog travel tips. In the chance your dog gets distracted or lost, it is important that your dog has proper ID. You can increase the chances of recovery by making sure your dog can be traced back to you!

  • Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags with the dog’s name, your name, and your home phone number, as well as proof of rabies shots.
  • Consider a permanent form of identification, such as a microchip
  • Bring a recent picture of your dog along with you.

Travelling by Car

Probably the most frequent method of close-medium distance travel, your car is the go-to. However, even though it is much safer for your pup than travelling via air, there are still things to keep in mind!

It’s usually a good idea to crate your dog when riding in the car. You’ll be less distracted while driving, which is safer for both of you. It also prevents your dog from becoming a projectile if you have to stop fast, also reducing the chance of injury for both of you.

Aspen is back on the road for his next adventure! 

Speaking of projectiles, don’t feed your dog a lot before the trip as they are prone to motion sickness! Avoid feeding your pup while you’re moving either. Save the snack breaks for when you takes breaks as well. It’s also good to spend a little time playing or walking during the break to get rid of some pent-up energy. And of course, don’t leave your dog in a parked car, especially when it’s warm out! Even if you think you’ll be back in a few minutes, take your dog with you.

Travelling by Air

Truth be told, pooches and planes don’t mix very well. Although flying may be the fastest and least stressful option for you, it can be the opposite for your pup. A cargo hold is a lot less comfortable than the cabin. Try to avoid plane travel with your dog unless it is absolutely necessary. If you have to fly with your dog, keep in mind the following dog travel tips.

The first thing you need to do is check with the airline for their rules regarding pet travel. Many airlines require a health certificate and have other rules you haven’t thought of. Be informed ahead of time, so that you are not surprised at the airport! Your dog will almost certainly be traveling in a crate, so it will make everyone’s lives easier if you crate your dog before you enter the chaos of the airport.

Aspen enjoying the high & clear mountain air 

As with car travel, it’s smart not to start the trip on a full stomach or bladder (dogs should fast for at least 6 hours before the trip). Make a pit stop as close to the departure time as possible. and be sure that your dog has access to water – enough to keep hydrated but not full.

Finally, if your dog isn’t flying with you in the main cabin, don’t have a big goodbye scene. You’ll only upset your dog. If you’re calm, they’ll be calm. Additionally, bring your dog’s blankie or their favorite stuffed animal, toy, bone – any item which is familiar to your dog and will comfort and relax him during the journey.

Travelling by Train, Bus, or Boat

Things get a little tricky here unfortunately. Most trains and busses do not allow dogs onboard, unless they are registered service animals. You fare a little better when taking a cruise, but just like the airlines, call ahead of time and ask!

Helping to row is overrated – need to take in the views first! 

When you have Arrived

Go for a long walk! A recently exercised doggo will be much more relaxed than one who has been sitting down all day. Your pup may growl or be more shy around strangers than normal, but that is perfectly Ok. It’s natural for dog to be a little more nervous in a completely new place & people.

Additionally, being away from home means a lot of new sights, smells, sounds, and potential food items for your dog! Make sure you’re vigilant, wherever you go, about what’s around, especially in the area of things your dogs could ingest.

Another day, another destination, another adventure

Staying in a Hotel

As with flying, a little preemptive research is in order. Does the hotel you’re considering even allow pets? Better to find out before you arrive! Pet-welcoming hotels will be prepared for your visit, and can even recommend parks, hikes, and other dog-friendly activities. Try your best to keep your pup calm and quiet when in the hotel – you wouldn’t want to disturb your neighbours with barks or howls!. Also, don’t inadvertently encourage the barking with affection. Stay calm and assertive and take your pup out for some exercise to calm them down, and get them used to the new location.

There is no way you can escape Aspen’s puppy dog eyes 

Staying in the great Outdoors

If you are planning to explore the outdoor wildness, make sure you are prepared to do so. Keep in mind all of our dog travel tips above, and also take a quick read through our previous post on hiking with your dog! The 2nd half of the post has useful info on how to explore the trails and camp with your pup.

Aspen is packed and ready for his next adventure. Are you?

Unable to bring your Dog along?

Find a good substitute pack! Your dog will be more comfortable in a home than a traditional kennel. Check out what we at GoFetch do, and connect with a loving dog sitter in preparation for your next trip!

A two person tent really means 2+1 

Traveling with your dog can be a fun experience for both of you! Just remember to be as prepared as possible wherever you go. The more homework you do on dog travel tips, the fewer surprises there will be. Don’t forget to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and above all, of course, be calm and assertive. A balanced & happy dog makes for the best travel companion! Much love,

– The GoFetch Team

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