Travel and Your Dog

travel_dogThis holiday season it seems like everyone’s going somewhere. If your dog is going with you, make sure you know what hotels you can stay at along the way, and if he’s not, slowly ease him into the boarding kennel, or hire the cute neighbor kids who are always watching you do agility to feed him and water him and walk him. This isn’t a comprehensive listing by any means, but it’s a good place to get you started! 🙂

Dog Hotels

Lets’ start with the hotels, shall we? Personally when I travel with my dogs, I can’t stay with family, since the entire family is allergic to dogs and cats! I go to a hotel, and sometimes I’m really glad I do. I love the continental breakfasts! There’s a very handy list here for US hotels allowing dogs (and there’s a subcategory there for those of us with giant breeds and kitties!) If you stay in a hotel, it’s a good idea to make sure you bring a lot of courtesy bags, chew and be quiet toys, paper towel, shot records, bowls (Travel ones may be a good option), and a crate (pop-up kennels are great for crate trained dogs staying in hotels- lugging a Midwest kennel through a hotel can be awkward, especially if you have a big dog). You can’t leave the dog loose in the hotel room when you are not in it, and the chew toys will help keep him happily occupied. I find that covering my dog’s cage with a blanket any time he’s in a new environment settles him right down!

Also, not to seem indelicate, but… if you do stay in a hotel, please make certain your dog has a flea treatment active on him. Most hotels are awesome about cleanliness, but you really don’t want to risk an infestation.

Finding a Good Boarding Kennel

Boarding kennels are another good option, especially if you can’t be doing a lot with your dog, or he gets carsick/airsick/ you just don’t want to risk him by traveling. Check out the kennels in the area and see what they have to offer and how they treat your dog and the dogs there. Sniff around, does it smell clean or rank? Is everything clean and shiny? Is there a play area, and playtime? Some kennels even have webcams so you can watch your dog online while you’re away. I like that feature! 🙂 The kennel will tell you what you need to bring for them to watch your dog, but this is a pretty good starters’ list: again, make sure he has his records, a few not-quite-favorite toys, and it may be a good idea to supply them his food. They will also probably want his veterinarians’ phone number in case of emergency.

Dog Babysitters

And lastly but the option I use the most… cute neighbor kids. They’re affordable, and chances are they already know your dog. I have had four dogs, and all of them have been fed and watered by neighbor kids in absences I have not been able to take them with me, and haven’t wanted to send them to a kennel. Tips for making sure your neighbor kid is sound! First, talk to the parents, and see how they feel. Will they come with their child to take care of the dog? Watch the kid with your dog and see how they interact. Let the kid walk the dog on leash and see if they can even handle your dog! (I have had a Great Pyrenees- sometimes help was needed.) If anything makes you think they’ll forget to water the animal, say no and look elsewhere for a sitter (perhaps an agility buddy who is staying home?). The obvious benefit of an in-house sitter is your dog does not have to leave his home, has at least a marginally familiar person watching out for him, and knows the rules of his own house.

In closing, think about your dog and his personality before choosing where to send him (or who will watch him). Some dogs would really rather just stay home with a bowl of food twice a day and water as they laze around in the laundry room. Some would sooner die than be left all alone like that! Some dogs will go with you happily wherever you go, and some look at the Marriott as some form of hell. And some dogs relish the chance to play with other dogs in a kind of doggie daycare, while others cower in the back of the kennel and wonder what on earth they DID to deserve THIS? You know your dog best, and you know your options best. Happy Trails!

~By Brittany Welch