Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

We have taken Kirby with us on several small trips. Heck, our first few hours with him were spent trekking from his foster home near the Columbia River Gorge back up to our home near Seattle. His first time sightseeing was at Multnomah Falls and he was barely 9 weeks old. He has been with us to Cannon Beach, Vancouver and Victoria, up near Forks, and to Albuquerque 3 times. We love being able to bring him with us on our little excursions like this, but of course there are lots of things that we must keep in mind every time we plan to travel with him. I’ve had several people ask me about how we get him to travel so well with us, so here are a few tips for you to keep in mind if you wish to take your pet with you on your next trip. And I hope that you do!

Bring all the necessary documentation for your dog. Kirby is Ryan’s ESA, so to fly with him we must bring a doctor’s note with us to check in with TSA before going through security. If you are flying with your dog as a pet or an ESA, make sure you know exactly what paperwork you’ll need in order to get through security and travel safely.

Another example is with international travel. Depending on the country you are traveling to, do research beforehand to find out what is required to bring a dog into the country with you. Some countries even require a quarantine period. So know what you’re getting into before you make your plans. When we drove with Kirby into Canada all we needed was his shot records showing he was up to date to present to the border control agents, and we went through with no problems.

cattle dog mix from Seattle on the beach in Victoria, British Columbia

Get a direct flight. If at all possible, make the trip as easy on your dog as possible and travel directly to your destination. We’ve only ever taken Kirby on direct flights between home in Seattle and home in Albuquerque, and while I’m sure he could hold his pee a while longer, it just makes it so much easier on everyone to not have to get off the plane, wait in the airport for another one, and continue on.

Plan road trips with potty and play breaks. Dogs can get super bored sitting cooped up in the car for too long, and they need their potty breaks at least as often as you do. When we’re planning on being in the car for more than an hour or two, we always plan to stop and let Kirby out to pee and sniff around and hopefully get some wiggles out.

Give your dog a good workout just before you head out on your trip. This will help them relax and sleep on the way there, and make things more peaceful for everyone. Kirby can be annoying and whine in the car if he feels frustrated about not being able to be up front with us, or not being able to get out and run around. (Trust me, he’s not a perfect dog!) But if he’s already tired by the time we get in the car (or plane) he mostly just sleeps, and we all win.

Make sure the place you are staying will allow dogs. Some hotels don’t allow dogs, even for an added fee. When you are booking your lodging, be sure they have pet-friendly rooms. If they don’t specify, call and ask! You wouldn’t want to show up and be turned away.

When I am searching for lodging, I most often use AirBnB. There is an option to filter results so that you only see those listed as pet-friendly. Same thing with Booking.com, which I use when finding hotels. Often bringing a pet comes with an added nightly fee, but not always.

eating out and traveling with your dog

Get your dog accustomed to large crowds and heeling on-leash. This is soooo important if you are planning to either travel by plane (you don’t want your dog to freak out in a crowded airport) or simply travel to a crowded city location for sightseeing. You’re choosing to bring your dog with you on your travel most likely because you enjoy having him with you, and also possibly because it’s hard to leave him with a sitter or boarded while you’re on vacation. But if your sightseeing plans are going to stress either of you out too much, it’s just not worth it. Kirby is by no means perfect on the leash, but he is good in crowds, super well-behaved at the airport, and loves people-watching in new places.

Be prepared to have to adjust your normal travel routine. Traveling with your dog is a joy, but it will prevent you from being able to do some of the things that you normally wouldn’t think twice about. Like eating out at restaurants, going into museums, or doing some shopping. Unless you have a service dog, you’re not going to be able to take your pup with you into most stores or sit-down restaurants. Even some public transportation doesn’t allow dogs, depending on the city.

Aussie mix puppy running on the beach in Oregon

Consider the weather. If you are traveling somewhere or during sometime where the weather is unpredictable, or predictably rainy or cold, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to go anywhere with your dog. Even if your dog is used to some rain and cold (I know mine is) it can still be a real pain to have to do all your sightseeing out in that weather, and not be able to seek shelter inside a restaurant or museum.

Research whether the public beaches and/or parks allow dogs where you are going. Many beaches do not allow dogs. You wouldn’t want to show up to a beautiful beach location and not be able to enjoy the sand and the water. Same thing with certain parks or trails. If you’re planning on hiking somewhere and bringing your pup, just make sure he’s actually allowed to join you before you embark on your journey.

Aussie mix puppy standing in front of haystack rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon at sunset

Look for restaurants with dog-friendly patios. And plan ahead. In some cases, just because a restaurant has outside seating does not mean they will allow dogs on their property. Many of these places do at least allow the dog to be just on the other side of whatever fencing is around their patio seating, but it is good to know what you are getting into. Kirby does not do well when he feels he is being left behind or left out, so he’s not the type of dog we feel comfortable tying up by himself within eyesight. He needs to remain next to us, preferably with an open railing rather than a solid wall or fence, so that he feels closer and more secure. If you have a dog you feel comfortable leaving outside of shops or restaurants for a bit, then more power to you.

Research dog parks in the area. If your dog is one who loves running around with other dogs, find a dog park nearby where you can let him burn off some steam. Traveling can be stressful and sometimes boring for a dog, so letting him get the wiggles out can be so helpful for both of you.

Don’t forget to bring along water for your dog when you’re out sightseeing. We have a collapsible dog bowl we shove in a bag and take with us when we’re out with Kirby. It can be easy to forget that your dog may be overheating with all your walking and needs water breaks more than usual at home, so having that with you is a must.

woman hiking and traveling with her dog

Also don’t forget poop bags! This is kind of a given, but don’t be that person who doesn’t have a bag and leaves a pile of poop for someone else to smell and step on! Always have more than you think you’ll need, in case you don’t find any while you’re out.

It helps to have your dog crate-trained. There are a few reasons for this. One, if you are flying and must put your dog under the plane, it is absolutely necessary to make sure he will be comfortable in the crate he’ll be flying in. Two, even if you are flying and your dog is small enough to be in your carry-on under the seat in front of you, you still want him comfortable in that little box. And three, we’ve found that bringing Kirby’s crate with us when we can helps make him feel at home in a strange place overnight. He’s used to sleeping in his crate every night (I can’t sleep well sharing the bed with two bodies) so when we put him to bed it’s like keeping that part of our routine intact. Plus, if you want to go out somewhere and leave your dog in the room, it may be easier for them to be left in their crate.

Australian cattle dog mix sitting in front of Mt Si in North Bend Washington

We love that we can take Kirby with us when we travel. He honestly makes it more fun. But we are also realistic about the places that we take him with us to when we travel. We don’t take him places where our plans would involve more than just walking around sightseeing. He has gone with us on road trips all around the Pacific Northwest and on flights back home to Albuquerque, but I wouldn’t want to worry about him if we were heading somewhere with no dog-friendly beaches, or where we would want to do lots of museums or tours. If we plan to go somewhere where we would feel more limited in what we could do, we leave him home.

We have taken Kirby with us on several small trips. Heck, our first few hours with him were spent trekking from his foster home near the Columbia River Gorge back up to our home near Seattle. His first time sightseeing was at Multnomah Falls and he was barely 9 weeks old. He has been with us to Cannon Beach, Vancouver and Victoria, up near Forks, and to Albuquerque 3 times. We love being able to bring him with us on our little excursions like this, but of course there are lots of things that we must keep in mind every time we plan to travel with him. I’ve had several people ask me about how we get him to travel so well with us, so here are a few tips for you to keep in mind if you wish to take your pet with you on your next trip. And I hope that you do!

Bring all the necessary documentation for your dog. Kirby is Ryan’s ESA, so to fly with him we must bring a doctor’s note with us to check in with TSA before going through security. If you are flying with your dog as a pet or an ESA, make sure you know exactly what paperwork you’ll need in order to get through security and travel safely.

Another example is with international travel. Depending on the country you are traveling to, do research beforehand to find out what is required to bring a dog into the country with you. Some countries even require a quarantine period. So know what you’re getting into before you make your plans. When we drove with Kirby into Canada all we needed was his shot records showing he was up to date to present to the border control agents, and we went through with no problems.

cattle dog mix from Seattle on the beach in Victoria, British Columbia

Get a direct flight. If at all possible, make the trip as easy on your dog as possible and travel directly to your destination. We’ve only ever taken Kirby on direct flights between home in Seattle and home in Albuquerque, and while I’m sure he could hold his pee a while longer, it just makes it so much easier on everyone to not have to get off the plane, wait in the airport for another one, and continue on.

Plan road trips with potty and play breaks. Dogs can get super bored sitting cooped up in the car for too long, and they need their potty breaks at least as often as you do. When we’re planning on being in the car for more than an hour or two, we always plan to stop and let Kirby out to pee and sniff around and hopefully get some wiggles out.

Give your dog a good workout just before you head out on your trip. This will help them relax and sleep on the way there, and make things more peaceful for everyone. Kirby can be annoying and whine in the car if he feels frustrated about not being able to be up front with us, or not being able to get out and run around. (Trust me, he’s not a perfect dog!) But if he’s already tired by the time we get in the car (or plane) he mostly just sleeps, and we all win.

Make sure the place you are staying will allow dogs. Some hotels don’t allow dogs, even for an added fee. When you are booking your lodging, be sure they have pet-friendly rooms. If they don’t specify, call and ask! You wouldn’t want to show up and be turned away.

When I am searching for lodging, I most often use AirBnB. There is an option to filter results so that you only see those listed as pet-friendly. Same thing with Booking.com, which I use when finding hotels. Often bringing a pet comes with an added nightly fee, but not always.

eating out and traveling with your dog

Get your dog accustomed to large crowds and heeling on-leash. This is soooo important if you are planning to either travel by plane (you don’t want your dog to freak out in a crowded airport) or simply travel to a crowded city location for sightseeing. You’re choosing to bring your dog with you on your travel most likely because you enjoy having him with you, and also possibly because it’s hard to leave him with a sitter or boarded while you’re on vacation. But if your sightseeing plans are going to stress either of you out too much, it’s just not worth it. Kirby is by no means perfect on the leash, but he is good in crowds, super well-behaved at the airport, and loves people-watching in new places.

Be prepared to have to adjust your normal travel routine. Traveling with your dog is a joy, but it will prevent you from being able to do some of the things that you normally wouldn’t think twice about. Like eating out at restaurants, going into museums, or doing some shopping. Unless you have a service dog, you’re not going to be able to take your pup with you into most stores or sit-down restaurants. Even some public transportation doesn’t allow dogs, depending on the city.

Aussie mix puppy running on the beach in Oregon

Consider the weather. If you are traveling somewhere or during sometime where the weather is unpredictable, or predictably rainy or cold, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to go anywhere with your dog. Even if your dog is used to some rain and cold (I know mine is) it can still be a real pain to have to do all your sightseeing out in that weather, and not be able to seek shelter inside a restaurant or museum.

Research whether the public beaches and/or parks allow dogs where you are going. Many beaches do not allow dogs. You wouldn’t want to show up to a beautiful beach location and not be able to enjoy the sand and the water. Same thing with certain parks or trails. If you’re planning on hiking somewhere and bringing your pup, just make sure he’s actually allowed to join you before you embark on your journey.

Aussie mix puppy standing in front of haystack rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon at sunset

Look for restaurants with dog-friendly patios. And plan ahead. In some cases, just because a restaurant has outside seating does not mean they will allow dogs on their property. Many of these places do at least allow the dog to be just on the other side of whatever fencing is around their patio seating, but it is good to know what you are getting into. Kirby does not do well when he feels he is being left behind or left out, so he’s not the type of dog we feel comfortable tying up by himself within eyesight. He needs to remain next to us, preferably with an open railing rather than a solid wall or fence, so that he feels closer and more secure. If you have a dog you feel comfortable leaving outside of shops or restaurants for a bit, then more power to you.

Research dog parks in the area. If your dog is one who loves running around with other dogs, find a dog park nearby where you can let him burn off some steam. Traveling can be stressful and sometimes boring for a dog, so letting him get the wiggles out can be so helpful for both of you.

Don’t forget to bring along water for your dog when you’re out sightseeing. We have a collapsible dog bowl we shove in a bag and take with us when we’re out with Kirby. It can be easy to forget that your dog may be overheating with all your walking and needs water breaks more than usual at home, so having that with you is a must.

woman hiking and traveling with her dog

Also don’t forget poop bags! This is kind of a given, but don’t be that person who doesn’t have a bag and leaves a pile of poop for someone else to smell and step on! Always have more than you think you’ll need, in case you don’t find any while you’re out.

It helps to have your dog crate-trained. There are a few reasons for this. One, if you are flying and must put your dog under the plane, it is absolutely necessary to make sure he will be comfortable in the crate he’ll be flying in. Two, even if you are flying and your dog is small enough to be in your carry-on under the seat in front of you, you still want him comfortable in that little box. And three, we’ve found that bringing Kirby’s crate with us when we can helps make him feel at home in a strange place overnight. He’s used to sleeping in his crate every night (I can’t sleep well sharing the bed with two bodies) so when we put him to bed it’s like keeping that part of our routine intact. Plus, if you want to go out somewhere and leave your dog in the room, it may be easier for them to be left in their crate.

Australian cattle dog mix sitting in front of Mt Si in North Bend Washington

We love that we can take Kirby with us when we travel. He honestly makes it more fun. But we are also realistic about the places that we take him with us to when we travel. We don’t take him places where our plans would involve more than just walking around sightseeing. He has gone with us on road trips all around the Pacific Northwest and on flights back home to Albuquerque, but I wouldn’t want to worry about him if we were heading somewhere with no dog-friendly beaches, or where we would want to do lots of museums or tours. If we plan to go somewhere where we would feel more limited in what we could do, we leave him home.

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