Holiday Travel with Your Dog — It Doesn’t Have to Suck

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Tiki enjoying her presents.

Are you and your dog headed over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this holiday—or just off on a fun getaway? We love traveling with our dogs Irie and Tiki and, whenever possible, try to make them part of our travels. The holidays are all about family, after all, and many of us know that these special days just wouldn’t be the same without our furry family along for the trip.

Whether you and your pets plan to deck the halls of a hotel or a relative’s home this holiday, here’s a look at our top tips for making sure you, your pets, and your fellow travelers all have a jolly good time.

1. Make advance plans

The holiday weeks are a busy time at hotels and motels everywhere so it makes sense to make your list—and check it twice—when it comes to hotel reservations. Call the hotel to book directly, describing the size and breed of your dog to avoid any surprises at check-in. Also, be sure to write down the name of the person you spoke with and take it with you in case of any complications.

2. Pack your dog’s food and treats

Sure, we might overindulge on holiday goodies but, to avoid tummy upset, pack your dog’s usual food and treats.

3. Be prepared for accidents

Even if your pets are perfectly housetrained, the new smells, extra excitement, and the disrupted schedule of the holidays can mean potty accidents. We carry a bag with a roll of paper towels, a bottle of Rug Doctor Urine Eliminator spray, and, of course, plenty of poop bags—and we’ve never lost a hotel deposit, even with our two large dogs.

4. Plan a vet visit

Let your vet know that you’ll be traveling and ask if there are any special considerations. Ask for a copy of your dog’s immunization record to carry on your trip. If you’re traveling out of state by car or traveling anywhere with your dog by plane, visit your vet to obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI).

5. Place an extra ID tag on your dog

Tags aren’t just for gifts—make sure your dog has a special ID tag for your trip with your cell phone number. If you’ll be at one location for several days, make a tag with your holiday number and address as well. For extra travel security, our dogs also wear a GPS collar that we can check with our smartphones.

6. Buckle up

Just as children are always buckled up in the car, be sure to buckle up your four-legged family members! Icy roads and holiday traffic make it extra important to secure your dog in a seat belt, booster seat, or crate.

7. Designate a pet guardian

Make one member in your family responsible for your dog so there’s no confusion about where your dog is at all times.

8. Pack the scent of home

We always carry a bed sheet to cover over hotel or home beds on our travels; it not only provides protection for the furniture but also carries the scent of home for our dogs. You can also pack a blanket, a doggie duvet, or just a plush toy for comfort on the road and in your accommodations.

9. Keep an eye out for decorations

Your dog might hardly notice your decorations at home—but the temptations of a new environment may make those holiday decorations tempting. Be extra careful of everything from tinsel to ornaments to lights, all of which present chewing and choking hazards.

10. Plan to travel more slowly

Holiday travel with your dog means you’ll be traveling just a little slower, much as if you were traveling with a small child. You’ll need to make more frequent potty stops and make time for play in your day, budgeting time for fun and games with your pet. After all, isn’t that what a holiday with your best friend is all about?

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Tiki and her stocking

About the Authors

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the publishers of DogTipper.com and the authors of the newly-released DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs. Paris Permenter, a certified dog trainer and America’s Pet Economist™, also co-hosts the weekly Dog Travel Experts radio show. For more information, visit www.dogtipper.com.