Traveling with your dog can be a fun experience that allows you to bond with your pet and enjoy new scenery together. Safe and comfortable trips, however, require some planning and preparation. Before starting your journey, you'll have to check in with your pet's veterinarian, invest in updated identification tags or microchips, and choose a good crate. You may also have to take extra steps, depending on the method of travel you are making use of. You will also need to pick a good lodging option that will welcome your furry friend as much as it will welcome you.

Ensure Your Dog's Health

Before traveling or going on a vacation with your dog in tow, it can be a good idea to take them to a vet for a quick check-up. Verify that your dog is in optimal health before taking them to new environments that can aggravate existing illnesses or conditions. Obtain refills on any current prescriptions. While you're there, get your dog vaccinated and request copies of shot records. You'll need them, if you plan to travel by plane.

Pack bags with your dog's usual food. Abrupt dietary changes can result in digestive issues. If you're not sure about the cleanliness of your destination's water supply, consider your dog's needs as you stock up on bottled water for yourself.

Mark Your Territory

Giving your dog some form of identification is extremely important in ensuring your pet's safety and in increasing the odds that you'll find them, should they get lost. One of the best ways to protect your dog is to exercise preventative measures: verify that their leash and collar can withstand hard pulling and tugging, and won't accidentally break. A dog's collar should feature identification tags that have the pet's name and rabies status on it. Your contact information should be on another tag, including your name and a phone number where you can be reached. Microchipping can be a great method of identification for dogs that have a history of running away or losing their tags. Always keep a picture of your pet on hand, in case they suddenly go missing. This may help you find your dog faster.

Crate Your Dog

Crates can be used for more than just basic, house-breaking procedures: they can also be employed to aid in the safe transport of your pet. When you place your dog into a crate before driving, you reduce the potential for several different kinds of accidents. Best of all, crates can give you more control over your pet's behavior in your chosen lodging. If you plan to travel by air, you'll have to invest in a crate, as airlines won't transport animals that aren't secured in one.

Crates are readily available for purchase at pet stores. For the best fit, choose a product that allows your dog to lie down, stand, and turn comfortably. Verify that the bottom of the crate won't leak and is lined with absorbent material, in case your dog has an accident, or knocks over their water container. Ensure that there's enough room for your dog's favorite items, like mats and toys. Find a crate with sturdy handles and grips to guard against dropping of the crate while it's in motion. No aspects of the structure, like screws or bits of metal, should be jutting inside of the crate or blocking ventilation. At least two, opposite sides of the crate should be open to allow for good airflow. Labels declaring a live animal's presence and your contact information should be readily visible on its sides.

Riding in Cars

Protect your dog from injuries by rolling up windows. Under no circumstances should your dog ride in an open and unprotected space in a vehicle, such as the bed of a truck. To guard against several types of accidents, place your dog in a crate. Make sure that they are always exposed to fresh and cool air. Respect your dog's bowel habits and monitor their body language for clues about the need for a potty break. Keep your dog hydrated and wait to feed them until you return home. This can reduce instances of vomiting related to motion sickness. Allow your dog to enjoy the ride without interference from people or other animals that may aggravate them. As a general rule, dogs should never be left in vehicles by themselves - particularly hot and cold temperatures may result in illness, injury or even death. If you're planning your dog's very first long car ride, accustom them to your car by allowing them to sit in it, and take them for trial rides.

Flying the Skies

Prepare your dog's vaccination and health records before traveling by plane. Airlines require the inspection of these documents before they let dogs fly. Be sure that the crate that you've chosen for your dog meets the airline's standards for live animal transport. In some cases, permission to transport a dog in a carrier can be granted, and these dogs may even be able to fly in the company of their owners. These pets, however, will usually have to be small enough to fit under a plane's seat. It can be a good idea to contact your preferred airline for advice on how to successfully travel with your pet, as some airlines can differ in their rules. For example, it's not uncommon for airlines to refuse the transport of animals during inclement weather.

Land Travel: Trains, Boats and Buses

Dogs are usually prohibited on interstate trains and buses. Trains and buses that run locally sometimes allow dogs to travel with their owners, but it's always best to call stations before planning your trip. Cruises have a better track record of welcoming dogs: some may even have special quarters and meals prepared for pets. Service dogs are welcome to accompany their owners during any type of travel.

Spending the Night

If you plan on vacationing with your pet, try to avoid spontaneous decisions. Instead, carefully plan your trip out to increase your dog's comfort and decrease your own stress levels. Know which hotels, inns, and motels allow guests with dogs and, if they do, which breeds and sizes can legally stay in the establishment. After you've chosen a place to stay, ask staff about any designated dog-walking areas on the property, and make sure to clean up after them as you would while walking them on the street. During your stay, be responsible and considerate. Don't allow your dog to engage in destructive behavior or disturb other guests. Finally, avoid leaving your dog in your room by itself - a scared, bored or even curious dog can bark incessantly and damage hotel property.