6 Things To Remember When Travelling With Your Dog
My wife and I consider our dog, Schlumpf, to be a substitute for the human children we will never have. That means that wherever we go, Schlumpf goes too.
We don’t believe in going away on holiday and leaving the dog in a kennel. Whenever we go somewhere on holiday – whether it’s somewhere here in Germany, or abroad such as Austria, we do our best to ensure that it is a place Schlumpf can go as well. It’s his holiday too, after all.
But over the years, we have come to learn some things about taking Stinker (as I affectionately call him) with us on holiday.
It’s a Disruption To His Normal Routine – So Expect Issues
Dogs like their routines. They like having the run of the house, going for their walk every day in familiar surroundings, smelling the same smells, barking at the same postman…..but when you go away on holiday, you are taking them away from all that and putting them in an alien environment. Suddenly they don’t know where they are and they get nervous. Where’s that postman?
In our case, the first issue is when we are packing a suitcase for the trip. Schlumpf looks extremely nervous wondering if we are leaving him. It has got to the stage where my wife packs the suitcase in the bathroom with the door shut. Even then, I don’t think we are fooling him.
Then when we get to where we’re going, the dog is confused about why we are there. Our Schlumpf eats sparingly, has a sensitive stomach which leads to soft poops, and has difficulty settling down in the hotel room. On a recent trip, I woke up during the night to find him at the side of the bed staring at me in the darkness. He grunted at me as if to say “great trip, but let’s go home now.
He Needs Plenty Of Toilet Breaks
If you are travelling in the car with him, remember that your dog is going to need regular toilet breaks. You may have a strong bladder and can hold it. But that doesn’t mean the dog can! Besides, dog toilet breaks is also a good opportunity for you to get out, stretch your legs, and eat terrible gas station food.
He Needs To Be Properly Secured In The Car – No Front Seat Riding!
When you are travelling in the car, you have to remember that the dog needs a seat-belt too, or some other form of restraint. You may think it’s hilarious to have the dog sitting in the front passenger seat of the car. But if you are subsequently involved in a car crash, guess who will go through the windshield and end up likely dead? Yes, the dog.
Some people we know put their dog in a crate and place the crate securely in the back of the car. That means the dog sees nothing of the journey but better that than dead. However, we chose a compromise which does allow Schlumpf to see the journey and enjoy the experience of the drive.
We bought a “blanket” which is basically a sheet which attaches itself to the back seat of the car with clips. Attached to the blanket is a short seat-belt which is attached to the dog’s harness (if you don’t have a harness, then get one). The blanket also covers the gap between the driver’s seat and the front passenger seat.
Using this blanket, Schlumpf can look out the back window, enjoy the view, and if God forbid we should be in an accident, the blanket’s seat belt will stop him from being thrown forward into the windshield.
If you don’t want to use the blanket, you should at a bare minimum buy the seat belt and harness.
He May Need Vaccinations, a Pet Passport, & Other Items
For journeys within Germany, we have never needed his pet passport. But other countries impose their own laws for incoming animals.
For example, many will require proof of the dog’s recent vaccinations, such as their rabies shot. This is recorded in the pet passport. The dog will also likely need microchipped. So make sure you visit your vet well in advance of your trip to ensure your dog has everything he/she needs.
In the case of some countries, you will not be able to re-enter your home country until a vet in the country you’ve been to on holiday issues a certificate saying the dog hasn’t picked up anything contagious while staying there. Again, check with your vet about what is required.
Forms may also need to be completed for the country you’re going to and you must also check to make sure the country does not have a mandatory quarantine.
Finally, when we went to Austria last year, we discovered that we had to have a muzzle in the car at all times. If the police stopped us and there was no muzzle, there would have been trouble. In the end, we were never stopped and the muzzle was never used. But there is obviously no way to know that in advance.
Your guiding principle should always be “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”. Find out what laws and requirements your destination country demands for dogs.
Find Out If Your Accommodation Allows Dogs. Many Don’t!
One of the challenges we face when travelling (and my parents have the same issue with their dog), is finding a hotel or guesthouse which accepts dogs. Many don’t. You may think you have found the ideal place to stay with the ideal price, but if you then discover that dogs are forbidden, well then that’s the holiday ruined.
So when choosing accommodation, email ahead to ask if dogs are allowed, and if there is an extra charge for them. Some hotel booking websites have filters to only show dog-friendly places. Alternatively, Google “dog friendly hotels” or use a specialist website such as BringFido.
If We Ever Go Overseas, a Plane Cargo Hold Is Not An Option. Sail Instead.
We haven’t gone on a plane with the dog yet and we likely never will. My wife and I are both dead-set against putting the dog in the cargo hold. Some dogs are chilled out about something like that but we know for a fact that Schlumpf would freak out. We would freak out.
Instead, if possible, how about going on a ferry ship instead and sailing? Here in Europe, there are regular ferry ships going between the UK and the European continent. Each one allows dogs, although they must remain in the passenger cabin at all times, unless they need out for the toilet. And for answering the call of nature, these ships have fake grass and cat litter-type boxes on the deck for the dogs to use.
If you must fly with the dog, make sure they get a crate big enough to move around in. Get them used to the crate long before the day of departure, and also make sure the airline knows ahead of time that a dog will be entering the cargo hold.
To Travel With a Dog Or Not To Travel?
Travelling with a dog can be a wonderful experience but many countries put needless barriers in the way in the form of red tape and bureaucracy. But with a bit of forward planning and a lot of patience, you can take your dog with you on your travels.