Ready for Summer Travel?
By Pat Hennessy
You have been planning this vacation for quite a while. The time is getting closer and you are getting more excited. As you check things off your list you find yourself down to the decision of what to do about Buster. You think about asking your friend, “what does she do with little Rusty when she travels?” The answer to that depends on several variables. What works for Rusty might not be the best option for Buster.
Can My Pet Come on Vacation with Me?
The type of vacation you take will dictate the practicality for your furry family member to join you. If you are going skiing, Buster would have to be pretty talented to take on the slopes. While he may prefer to stay back at the resort and chew on a bone by the fireplace — that is probably not an option. Now, if you are going down to a cabin at the lake to get away and relax or maybe do a bit of trail hiking, then Buster is the perfect companion for the trip.
There May Be More to Think About
Many people choose to take their dog with them when they go on vacation. If you can do it, that’s great! It allows for more quality time with your companion animal. Even though your sweet little Ginger loves to go for rides and always wants to be with you, you need to look at the overall vacation schedule. How long is each leg of the trip? What safety measures do you use for Ginger (is she in a crate or hooked to a harness)? She won’t like being cooped up on a long leg of the journey any more than you want to be strapped in by a seat belt. You will have to make more pit stops. Are you going to a dog-friendly destination? Will Ginger be able to participate in your vacation activities or have to stay back at the motel? If you are going on a road trip, consider the following safety/comfort tips:
- Avoid feeding your dog right before you leave on any leg of your trip.
- Evaluate your dog’s view out of the vehicle (this is especially important if your dog gets nervous riding — the anxiety could be calmed with gentle touch techniques and/or supplements).
- Choose a restraint method that works for your vehicle (crate, harness/strap or car seat).
- Be sure to secure a crate if you use one (especially in the back of an SUV). While a crate will confine your dog, it will not protect him from injury during an accident unless it is tied down.
Additional Tips for Pet Travel
- Take bottled water from home, to mix with water at your destination, so there is a gradual change. Not all water is created equal.
- Take your animal companion’s food (a bit more than you think you will need, in case you are delayed in returning home). You may not be able to find your pet’s food in another city, especially if it is a unique brand.
- Always keep a current ID on your pet, and bring vaccination records (or copies) with you.
- Remember to bring any medications if applicable.
- Don’t forget to bring some poop bags.
There are many things to take into account regarding travel, and while you would love little Ginger to be with you, she may be better off with different accommodations (like sending the kids to Grandma’s house). If you decide to make arrangements for your 4-legged family members to be cared for while you are away, there are several things to consider which will help you choose the best fit.
- Does your dog get along with other dogs? If not, he may be a candidate for an in-home pet visiting service.
- Is your dog very active? He may do better being boarded where he can play with other dogs.
- Does your dog have separation anxiety? She may do better with someone who takes dogs into their home and provides one-on-one attention. However, working on the separation anxiety in advance of any travel is highly recommended. There are trainers who can help you with techniques for getting your dog used to you coming and going.
- Do you have a multi-pet household? It may be more efficient to hire an in-home pet sitter.
- Is your dog older and not as active? He would probably be more comfortable in his own environment.
- Does your cat have special needs (i.e. diabetic)? She may be better off being boarded at your vet’s office if she needs daily injections.
If you do choose to keep your furry and feathered companions at home and hire a pet sitter (service, friend or neighbor), you may want to consider leaving a radio or TV on for some comforting sound, to drown out other disturbing noises, and for a burglar deterrent. You may want to hold your mail so that deliveries won’t disturb your canine’s or feline’s nap. Our animals will do quite well at home, where they are in familiar surroundings. An added benefit for them would be to leave them with enough items for entertainment. If you have a younger dog who may get bored between pet sitter visits, leave plenty of safe toys around for him to choose from (solid toys that won’t come apart or break easily). Toys that are especially good for younger dogs, or dogs who like to chew, are toys that can be stuffed with treats; they keep dogs motivated as well as occupied.
There are many pet sitting and boarding options in the metro area for any type of animal and situation.
Doggie day care facilities that also do boarding and pet resorts where your pooch will be pampered and get the spa treatment while you are away. Be sure to ask about the ratio of employees to dogs.
Private sitters that take pets into their own homes, who usually limit the number they take in so that they can provide personal (one-on-one) attention.
Pet sitting services, where they come to your home one to three times per day as required, and will take the dog for a walk and even pick up poop.
Boarding services that specialize in large or small breeds and even those who specialize in more difficult cases (e.g. animals that need medication or have behavior issues).
Trainers that offer board-and-train services, which would be an opportunity to get Duke some lessons in better manners while you are away on business.
Whatever you choose, keep in mind what would work best for your companion. The best choices bring about the best results. If you are away having a good time, you want your “best friend” to be having a good time too. Bon Voyage!
When you are traveling there are times you won’t be able to reach your final destination in one day. Once you arrive, you may need a place to stay for a few nights. Here is a list of web resources for pet-friendly lodging.
Pat Hennessy, is the founder of N2paws, LLC, an organization that provides companion animal attunement through behavior analysis, energy work, and Tellington TTouch. Pat is a certified TTouch practitioner and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and Animal Wellness Association (AWA). You may contact N2Paws via email
, phone 816-522-7005, or visit the website www.n2paws.com.