Vacationing with Your Dog

Summer is in its glory and vacations are on everyone’s mind. Many of us want to bring our furry friends along to share the good times. Travel with our pets can present some challenges, however with a bit of extra planning and realistic expectations you can have a fun relaxing vacation together.

Think about your dog’s personality and social experiences. If your dog is outgoing and a seasoned traveler, busy tourist destinations may be great fun for both of you. On the other hand, shy or unsocialized dogs may not enjoy the sounds and sights of a city or a campground full of strangers. Some dogs get anxious when away from home which can lead to unwanted behaviors like excessive barking, destructive chewing or marking.

Dogs who don’t enjoy car rides can become anxious on a long road trip. Prepare them ahead of time by taking short trips that end in fun situations, to help your dog learn to enjoy the ride. Talk to your veterinarian about treatment options if your dog gets car sick. While traveling, plan to stop for potty and exercise breaks every couple of hours.

Consider your dog’s physical fitness. Very young pups or older dogs with arthritis or other health issues may not have the stamina to keep up on a rugged hike or lengthy backpacking trip but might enjoy some time playing and splashing at the beach, or relaxing at a cabin in the woods.

How dog-friendly is your destination?  If camping is your thing, Washington State Parks allow dogs on leash in campgrounds and on trails. In general, dogs are allowed off leash in National Forests and BLM lands. National Parks allow leashed dogs in the campground, but they’re banned from trails in the park.

If your dog isn’t used to being on leash or reacts badly when meeting other dogs on leash, you’ll need to do some pre-trip training, to avoid potential altercations. If you’ll be in off-leash areas, your dog should be under voice control.

If you’ll be renting accommodations while on the road, be sure to understand their pet-friendly requirements. Are there size or breed restrictions? Is there an additional fee for pets? Are the dogs required to be on leash, or is there an off-leash area nearby? Are dogs allowed in public spaces like galleries, local attractions or wineries?

Are you planning to visit family and friends on your travels? Check in first to make sure your dog will be welcome. If your dog isn’t great with strangers or other dogs, you’ll need a management plan to keep everyone happy and safe.

Be prepared to spend a lot of time together with your dog. Dogs can’t be left alone in most hotels, or campgrounds and summer heat means no leaving the dog in the car. Some vacation rentals will allow dogs to be left, but many dogs will become stressed and potentially destructive if left alone in a strange place. Before travelling, get your dog used to relaxing in a crate while you’re gone for short periods or while there are other activities taking place in the house. Bring the crate with you so he has a familiar and comfortable place to rest.

Regardless of where you’re traveling this summer, make sure your best buddy is wearing ID tags and has a microchip. Nobody thinks their dog will get lost, but it happens. Having identification will increase the likelihood that you’ll get your best friend back.