What does it really mean, being on the road with a dog? What do you have to think of, what is possible, what should you rather leave alone? Questions, everyone is asking themselves who has a loved four-legged friend and wants to go on vacation together with them for the first time. Today, I'll try to answer all of your questions, preparing you for a great holiday with your dog.
It may be surprising but most hotels are accepting dogs. I, however, prefer finding accommodation in a holiday apartment or even a holiday home. Your way more limited around a hotel, sharing comparatively less room than in a holiday apartment. So, more space, more freedom and also more relaxation for dog and owner.
Yet, not every landlord is taken with bringing a pet, so don't forget to tick off the point “pets allowed” while searching for a fitting lodging. Most major portals such as HomeAway and AirBnB are offering that option in their filter categories.
If you finally found something, the first step will be contacting your landlord. Ask once more if dogs are really allowed and introduce your dog. Which breed? How big? Well raised? Dog insurance?
Yes, a dog indemnity insurance is something I can only recommend, if you're on the road with your pet. You can get an indemnity insurance on the cheap and it is really not complicated in handling and concluding. So, if something gets broken after all in your accommodation, both dog and owner are secured and your landlord will also be relieved.
Your dog should be able to obey some rules before taking him with you into foreign realms. If he doesn't yet realize that neither couch nor chairs or other items of furniture are meant for chewing on them, you should do a little more training before hitting the road together. I don't have to get started on being domesticated, do I? It's also very conducive, if your pup has no problem with staying alone for a little while around an unknown area, if you have to do some grocery shopping and don't want to leave your dog in front of the store or in the car or if you want to go out for dinner without him or her. Your four-legged friend should also have mastered the whole “being in a restaurant”-thing.
Around Germany, for example, most restaurants welcome dogs warmly but there are also several unscripted rules. A continuously barking and whimpering dog is as annoying as a kid screaming all the time. So best is, if your dog connects a restaurant stay with relaxing and taking a nap. That worked out quite automatically with my two pups since our first restaurant stay happened after a long day for both of them and so their eyes fell shut the minute we've got comfortable.
Again, relaxation for dog and owner and another joint adventure. If you're bringing your dog with you on your holiday, you want to spent as much time as possible with him, don't you?
What to pack?
You should always bring a vaccination record. It's even required around Europe to travel with the necessary, international pet identification. It's kinda your dogs passport. Your vet will provide the fitting documents.
You should also bring a dog bed. It is easier for every dog to settle into new surroundings, if he has a stable place to go to where he can feel safe and that smells familiar. You will notice quite quickly which corner he or she favor and this is where you can place the dog bed or a blanket.
Your own sheets and towels are also recommended. If your dog should sneak into your bed nevertheless, he won't soil your landlords bed linen and with your towels, you're not just keeping your dog clean and dry but also protect the walls of the accommodation from spatters of mud.
Apart from that, your luggage should contain everything else you'll need and last but not least: loads of toys since fun is first priority.
If you're traveling by car, your dog should be used to longer rides, so he's not struggling. A few drops of Animal Rescue Remedy are helping with sickness. There should also be enough space for your dog. No Great Dane should spend hours on the backseat of a Fiat 500. You wouldn't book a center seat for yourself during a long-term flight, would you?
If you're dog travels on the backseat, buckle him up with a special dog belt. It's most comfortable for him, if he wears a harness with the belt.
If you're dog takes his place in the trunk, make sure he's not able to crawl on the backseat with a special car net or bars for your trunk. Travel boxes are also a solution but those things are really expensive in a size, big enough for your dog to feel comfortable. If your dog is not in a box, make sure that he can make himself at home with a blanket or a dog bed and think of him while driving so he won't stumble around too much.
If you want to take your dog on an airplane, it takes a lot of preparation. You should train for at least one year, so your dog is comfortable and won't be stressed out too much. You have to buy a box, designed for a flight. Most airlines offer such boxes but it's better for your dog to already know his own box, it makes him feel more safe. Those boxes are expensive but if you want to bring your dog on an airplane, you should do everything to make it as easy as possible for him.
Once you've bought a box, you will start training with him or her. That box should become his “safe place”. A place where he loves to be, feels well and secure, where he can be on his own and where it's not a problem, that the bars are closed while he's on the inside.
Once your dog is comfortable with staying in that box for longer times, you start training him to be in the box in places with low light. An aircraft fuselage is heated when animals are transported but it's still dark. If you're feeling a thousand percent sure that your dog is really, really comfortable and only then, you can approach the subject air travel.
Talk to your vet when doing the needed paperwork and examination about supporting tranquilizers but you have to be very, very careful with those things. Most of them only paralyze your dogs body but his brain is a hundred percent awake. Imagine being all on your own and not able to move. You'd be scared to death. So, if you really want to support your dog with tranquilizers, make sure its the right ones, making him really tired and able to sleep, not just outwardly. Everything else is pointless.
Last but not least, you should be sensible of how old your dog is, how healthy and that it's not worth the stress for a two-weeks-only holiday. I won't put my 12 ½ years old dog Sue in an airplane and if I'm taking Peanut with me, it will merely be for either a long-term trip or if I'm moving into another country. You should also think of the climate change. Animals struggle with getting used to different temperatures and humidity quickly. So don't expect more of your four-legged friend than it needs to be.
What, if I'm hitting the road without my dog after all?
I'm traveling a lot and I can't always bring my two pups and so I make sure that they have a place to stay where they are safe and sound. I'm very lucky to have my best friend's mother taking care of them whenever both of us are striking off.
If you don't have family or friend, which can take care of them, there are so-called dog sitters. But there are also several things you should consider before leaving your dog with a stranger. Most important, no kennels, positive experiences from other dog owners are helping with the decision and cheap doesn't equal good in this.
There shouldn't be too many dogs in the chosen facility and enough sitters available for all of them. Your dog should get to know the accommodation and you will know very soon, if it's a good place for him to be or not and if he's comfortable.
The boardinghouse should stick strictly with your indications on how to handle your dog and should keep you up to date while you're gone, which shouldn't be a problem with Whatsapp nowadays. Once you've built a foundation of trust, you can send your dog off into his or her own holiday with a clear conscience and can enjoy your own.
So, if you're hitting the road with or without your dog is basically your own decision but I, personally, enjoy both versions and I'm hoping, I could help you out with my tips and tricks.
Until then, happy traveling.