I love to travel (obviously), and I love my dog. So naturally bringing my dog with me on my travels is the best of both worlds. I have a female French Bulldog named Madden. She has been travelling with me since she was a small puppy. After almost nine years of bringing her along with me on my travels is a breeze. She loves long car rides and sleeps her way through any plane ride. Here are my tips on travelling with your dog.
1.The carrier. The most important thing when you are taking your dog on a plane with you is the carrier. There are so many different types of carriers out there to choose from; shoulder, wheeled, backpack. But the most crucial factor is how your dog fits in their carrier. The pup should be able to lay down comfortably and be able to turn around in it. The pet carrier should also fit underneath the seat in front of you on the plane. I have been using the same carrier with Madden; it's a black over the shoulder mesh sided carrier. It has a pocket in the back for ease of access to both of our travel documents.
2. Your dog's comfort in the carrier is essential. I leave the carrier out in my apartment for Madden to lay in whenever she wants. I started this before I took her on a plane the first time. Dogs like to den and have an enclosed place to lay. By leaving the carrier out all the time, Madden has come to find comfort laying and sleeping in her carrier. This way when she is in the carrier on the plane or in the airport, she is comfortable because this is her safe place.
3. Medical documentation and paperwork. Most airlines require you to have some type of medical documentation from your veterinarian stating your dog is in good health and able to fly. Or if your dog is a service animal or emotional support then make sure you have that paperwork, so you aren't charged the fee.
4. TSA Pre-check. I find that this is essential when travelling with my dog. I often travel with my laptop, Madden, toiletries, etc. all in a carry-on bag. By getting TSA Pre-check or another form of fast passing through security, you can leave your shoes on and your laptop in your bag. This way you aren't fumbling around with unpacking your bags while also carrying your pup through the metal detectors. It just makes life so much easier and less stressful.
5. Choosing the right airline. Madden is a French Bulldog and recently a few airlines have certain breed restrictions. So making sure that you do your research and due diligence when choosing an airline is imperative. I prefer to fly within the US on Jet Blue with my dog. Not only are they super friendly and reasonably priced when flying with my dog but also Madden gets frequent flyer miles! There are plenty of other airlines that are dog-friendly.
6. Book your pet early. Only four pets are allowed on a flight at a time; this, however, does not include service or emotional support animals. So make sure that you book your pet’s reservation early with the airline to ensure that they are allowed onboard. This is another reason I prefer Jet Blue; they will enable you to book your pet at the time of booking your flight. Some airlines don't accommodate for pre-booking. Instead, you show up to the airport the day of your trip hoping that they can accommodate your pet. This was extremely stressful and nerve racking! I mean what if they don't have room for her! I recommend using an airline that allows you to book online or to follow up with a phone call to reserve your pet's spot on the plane.
7. Dog seat belt. Your pet's safety is paramount when travelling and a seat belt or some type of restraining device only increases your dog's safety in the car and your own. I mean I would love for Madden to be hanging out with me in the driver's seat, but realistically that's just not safe for me, but for her and the other people on the road. There are so many types of seat belts or restraints to choose from, and it depends on the size of your dog and the kind of car you have so choose wisely. I have a simple clip and hook that goes through the seat belt on the seat and hooks to Madden's harness to restrict her movements. Do a little research on which one will be best for your canine, and you won't regret the peace of mind you have when driving with your dog.
8. Water and treats. I have taken Madden on seven-plus hour-long drives and water is an essential element. I am a big proponent of reusable water bottles always having one for me and one for Madden. I also have a collapsible dog dish that I keep in my car. When Madden is driving with me, I pop it open, put it in one of the cup holders and fill it up. That way she has access to it anytime she wants while we are driving.
9. Hotels and dogs. When planning a long or overnight trip with your dogs in tow, you will want to plan and check for which hotels are dog-friendly along your route. A lot of hotels accept dogs as guests for a fee, but a lot don't. It's best to look in advance for which hotels you prefer will allow your pooch to stay the night.
10. Take breaks. It just as crucial for you as it is for your dog to take breaks along the way. Stop at a rest stop or an excellent place to take pictures to get out and walk around. You will get to stretch your legs, and the dog will get to use the restroom. I know I tend to want to push through and get there as soon as possible, but stopping is just as vital.
I hope that these tips are helpful to you during your travels. I just want to say I am not a professional dog trainer these are just tips I have learned through my years of traveling with my dog.