The time has come for a much needed holiday, and you can’t wait to sit on the beach and soak up the sun.  Or maybe you’ve decided to go on an adventure vacation and roam the jungles of Costa Rica.  No matter where your next vacation may take you, there’s one thing that will always remain true:  It would never be the same without your best friend to share in the memories!  And when I say best friend, I mean man’s best friend:  Your dog.
Traveling with your pet can be some of the most fun you’ll ever have.  With your dog by your side, those adventures and days at the beach will be even more amazing.  But before you take your pup on the road, let’s review some tips and tricks to make traveling with a furry friend pleasant and enjoyable for both of you.

  1.  Plan for the two of you
When selecting a location to vacation, make sure you pick on that you and your dog will both enjoy.  Some great destinations like national parks and national monuments make for great scenery and awesome memories, but also allow your pet to run and have fun as well.  (Note:  Make sure to check the park guidelines first to ensure dogs are allowed, and what restrictions they may have.) 
Also take into account crowds when you plan your vacation.  If your dog gets nervous or overstimulated in large groups of people, you may not want to take her to Disneyland or Central Park.  Maybe choose a less crowded venue like a local beach or a smaller, more quant park. 
Also plan to bring treats and toys for your pet.  She will be in strange situations, and rewarding them with treats will forge a positive association with the location.

  1.  Plan for the weather
Summer tends to be the most popular time to vacation, so depending on your breed of dog, it’s important to keep the heat factor in mind.  If your dog has a thick coat, you may try finding a cooler and higher elevation location to spend your holiday.  Taking a break from the heat may be just what the doctor ordered for both you and your dog.  If you do end up going somewhere warm, just remember to bring lots of water on your outings to ensure you and your pet stay properly hydrated.  Also, keep in mind the temperature of hot surfaces.  You have a nice set of shoes to protect your feet, but your dog’s paws don’t have that same luxury when it comes to hot pavement and rock surfaces.

  1.  Live life off the leash
If you’re looking to give your dog a little freedom and fun on her vacation, try researching destinations that allow dogs to be off-leash.  Most national parks require dogs to be on a leash, but there are fun dog parks and dog beaches that allow dog’s to run free.  Just remember to check the rules before you unclip your dog, and also remember to work with your dog before the vacation to make sure she’ll come back when you ask her to.  It’s one thing to know that they will come back when you call them inside from the backyard… But just to be safe, before the trip, take her out to some different and unfamiliar places to test her willingness to return even though there may be many undiscovered temptations.

  1.  Buckle Up!
Since very few modes of mass transit allow dogs, chances are, if you want to bring your dog, you’ll have to make it a road trip.  With this in mind, make sure you properly secure your pet for the trip.  Whether it’s a seat belt, crate, or other devise, just make sure you have it and use it for their safety.  And since they may not be used to this, it’s a good idea to take a few practice runs using the safety belt or crate, just so she’s used to it before a long trip.  Other handy items for a long trip are chew toys or food puzzles.  Dogs can get bored just like us!  Are we there yet???

  1.  Keep the leash handy
Even if you’re headed to the woods, you may be taking a stroll through a small town or other populated area.  It’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 ft.  Many towns have leash laws, and besides, it’s just common curtesy to keep your pet close, out of the way, and controlled around strangers.  In addition to the leash, make sure your dog has identification tags, contact information, and proof of rabies shots attached to her collar.  We even recommend a microchip for even greater security.    When on vacation, and in different environments, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1.  Rest stops are a dog’s best friend
You’re on vacation for crying out loud.  There’s no need to be in a rush.  Take the time to pull over and stretch your legs and let your dog go for a run.  Please remember though, since rest stops tend to be off busy highways, make sure you inspect your dog’s collar and leash before leaving the car to ensure she is safe and with you.  Once you’ve found a safe and out of the way section go ahead and let your dog explore and have a little fun.  It will be a good chance for them to get some energy out and prepare for the next leg of the trip.

  1.  Bring a bit of home with you
Whether you are staying in a tent or a hotel, your dog will need somewhere to sleep.  The best advice for this to bring her bed or sleeping crate with you!  Your dog’s favorite bed is essential to everyone getting a good night’s sleep.  Another tip for sleeping in a hotel is to bring a clean blanket you can lay down over the couch or chair where your dog will sleep.  This is a nice gesture to keep hair and fur off the furniture for housekeeping and future guests.

  1.  Try not to forget anything
Pack a suitcase or backpack for you, and then pack on for your dog as well.  To avoid undue stress and anxiety it’s important to bring all the essentials and then some.  You’ll want to remember bowls, food, toys, treats, a towel, and poop bags.  It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of water from home as well.  If the water at your destination is much harder or softer than what you pet is used to, it may give her an upset stomach.  If you find that your dog gets anxious or feels sick, one trick is to try some ginger or pumpkin to settle their stomach.  And don’t get to carried away vacationing and forget to pay attention to how your dog is feeling.  If they are acting funny and abnormal it may be a sign of sickness and if persistent may warrant a trip to the local veterinarian.  Observation is key when traveling.  If you pay attention, you’ll be amazed how much your dog expresses herself.

  1.  Let your dog help
If you go camping, many parks have a “Carry in, Carry out” policy.  This makes for a great opportunity for your pet to chip in and carry her share.  Try strapping on a backpack to your dog and let them carry some of their own items.  You’re load will be easier, and they’ll have fun doing it.  To prepare for this, you may have to practice at home a couple times with the backpack.  But if you make it a fun experience and reward them with treats for carrying it, they will soon become a fun and valuable hiking partner!

There you have it.  Everything you need to know to make your dog the ultimate travel companion.  You’ll find that if you decide to take your pet with you on your next vacation and follow these simple tips, they will add an element of fun to the holiday, making you wonder why you didn’t bring them along sooner.  So go ahead and plan to bring your best friend on your next vacation.  You’ll both be glad you did.


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