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The Ultimate Guide To Travelling With Your Dog

Nowadays, many people still believe that travelling with dogs is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Let me tell you the good news— that’s a myth! 

Over time I discovered that with a little extra research and planning, you can bring your Fluffy Friends along on most travel adventures — and it's not as difficult as you might think.

As someone who is passionate about both travel and dogs, I wanted to share what I've learned about this emerging trend while on the road. 

Last year I made the biggest change in my life: I moved from Austria to Spain by car with my dog. 

For the road trip, I had to inform myself of the options I had and how to actually be prepared for traveling with a pet. 

As always, I found lots of different information and opinions, so I decided to create an overview for you.

how to travel with large dogs

Every year approximately 37% of pet owners travel with pets of all sizes. 

According to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, more than four million live animals are transported on domestic flights and international flights worldwide each year. 

The travel industry has had to adapt to this growing demand, and now it's easier than ever to travel with your dog, especially with the pet travel programs available.

In this blog post, I will guide you starting with the planning of your trip, going through the different ways of travelling, to some tips at the end to make the whole experience easier! 

Let’s dive right into it together.

Related: How I Became a Better Dog Owner

What you should know before planning your trip

The first thing to do before embarking on a long trip for the first time is to take your Fluffy Friend to the veterinarian for a checkup. 

Check that all of his vaccinations are up to date, and bring his shot records with you. 

Consult your veterinarian to see if your dog is in good health, both mentally and physically.

The amount of paperwork and travel requirements will vary depending on how far you’re travelling. 

For example, if you plan to cross borders or travel internationally, you’ll need your dog's health certificate, sort of like us humans and our passports. 

Service dogs or service animals may also have specific requirements and paperwork.

These are required to demonstrate that your furry friend is healthy and vaccinated. 

Officials request to see them, and depending on which country you deal with, they will either retain the originals or make a copy. 

Having your dog’s medical records will also come in handy if you need to visit a new vet while abroad. 

Your vet should also be able to inform you about which vaccines your Fluffy Friend will need depending on the destination.

how to travel with large dogs

Of course, we don’t wish for anything to happen while we’re travelling with our dogs, but it’s always important to be ready for an emergency. 

Find the phone number for the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital and save it in your phone, along with the office and emergency numbers for your regular veterinarian (in case the veterinarians need to speak with each other). 

That way, if your dog requires medical attention, you'll be prepared with the necessary information on hand, at any time!

Also, it’s very important that your Fluffy Friend is properly identified besides the obligatory microchip. 

Make sure your large dog is wearing a strong leash and collar, with an id tag with the dog's name, your name, and your home phone number. 

That way, if you get separated, it will be easier for him to return to you safe and sound.

If you have a small dog, consider placing him inside a pet carrier.

As we say, every doggie is different, and that means that not every dog enjoys going on a trip. 

It’s a fact that travelling will always be stressful for your pet.  

I recommend you take the time to see what the best option is and what he is most comfortable with before going along with the planning.

Related: The More You Know: How Do Dogs Communicate?

Travelling by car

Some dogs are able to chill and sleep in the car's back seat while you’re driving. 

Others get really sick from the motion! 

Before travelling far, allow your dog to sit in the car with you and take short rides to see if he feels somewhat comfortable. 

If he gets sick during dog rides, my advice would be to let him travel on an empty stomach. 

It might sound harsh, but he will get a huge reward from the meal afterwards! 

The best way is to make sure your car has good ventilation. 

If your pooch is in a travel carrier, allow fresh air to flow into the crate. 

To keep your dog safe, consider purchasing a dog seat belt or a dog car seat and never, ever leave your dog alone in a vehicle, especially during the summer or winter months!

Flying

In most cases, you’ll be asked by the airline to provide information like your dog’s weight, height, age, and health certification, generally no later than 10 days before departure. 

Certificates of rabies and vaccination are also required. 

Your Fluffy Friend should be at least 8 weeks old before travelling! 

Major airlines normally make it clear that it’s the responsibility of dog owners to ensure their dog's health and ability to fly.

Remember that, here too, each airline has its own set of rules and services. 

For example, if your crate does not meet the airline's specifications, it may be refused. 

However, if your dog's crate or carrier fits under the seat in front of you, they may allow it in the passenger cabin, otherwise, a larger dog may be placed in the cargo hold. 

There’re also limits to the number of animals allowed on each flight.

When the time came and we left Austria, I could have done it via air travel, but I refused to do it. 

My dog gets very anxious, and I couldn’t really put him in the cargo compartment, even if I wanted to. 

My vet told me at the time that there were some pills that relax or even put your dog to sleep for a while for trips on high altitudes. 

As I had the car and wanted to make an adventure out of my trip, I decided to not go by plane. 

In the end, it’s up to your Fluffy Friend, so make sure you get to know him and what he’s capable of going through!

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Your First Puppy

Taking the Train, Bus, or Boat

With this category, pet parents have to look into the certain companies that they’ll be travelling with. 

For example, some companies allow dogs to travel only if they weigh less than 20kg. 

Others, not at all. 

Therefore, check what the maximum weight limit is with your travel company.

In my experience, it’s always very helpful to make a quick call and ask them directly. 

They'll be able to tell you if your pooch needs to be in a crate or to wear a muzzle.

On our trip from Huelva to Tenerife by boat (36 hours), they offered us two options. 

Lenni could travel either in the crates with the other dogs, or, the better option, with us in a special area they had for dogs and their owners. 

I decided to book one of the special rooms with additional fees and was surprised by how well everything was managed! 

I encourage you not to give up and make your inquiries at the companies. 

For the wellbeing of your Fluffy Friend!

Accommodation and local places

It can be very helpful to find out ahead of time which hotels or motels allow dogs at your destination or along your route. 

how to travel with large dogs

When you find your accommodation, we recommend not leaving the dog alone as many dogs will bark or break things if left alone in a place they don’t know. 

Normally, the management should be able to tell you where you can walk your dog and give you the location of some dog-friendly spaces. 

When outside, make sure it’s safe for your pooch to explore before you let him loose. 

Travelling with animals is becoming more popular every year, and it has taken local places like bars and restaurants some time to catch up, which means that many places do not yet have dog policies in place. 

Once again, is it very helpful to call first and ask them directly. 

The safest way is to look for a "No Pets Allowed" or "Pet Friendly" sign, but whether a place has one or not, it's always nice to double-check.

As you can see, travelling with your Fluffy Friend will require more planning ahead of time, informing yourself of the different options you have and, as always, taking the time to get to know your pooch and what does him well. 

It might seem challenging at first, but travelling with your dog is not as difficult as it seems if you have a plan and employ extra precautions.

To finish, we leave you with some quick tips that weren’t mentioned above that you can implement on your travel plans, no matter if it’s by car, by boat or by plane. 

QUICK TIPS

  1. Make time for bathroom breaks
  2. Pack enough poop bags
  3. Bring along games and toys to keep your dog entertained
  4. Take food and water with you
  5. Bring his favourite blanket so he has something that smells like home

Let us know in the comments below how you managed to travel with your Fluffy Friend and what challenges you encountered with travelling with your four-legged friend. 

Share your stories with other readers so we can all learn from each other!

Until next time, stay Fluffy,

Your MrFluffyFriend Team

Looking for some products that could help you out with your training?

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Here some useful products in relation to the blog:

MrFluffyFriend - Rechargeable Collar

MrFluffyFriend - Car Travel Box

MrFluffyFriend - Car Seat Cover

MrFluffyFriend - Dog Blanket

MrFluffyFriend - Poop scooper

Words from our author

Hey! I’m Estiverli, thank you for joining our MrFluffyFriend Blog!

As a pet owner, I often found myself in a very frustrating situation: going to the internet and finding multiple unhelpful and redundant articles about the care and training of pets.

My mission is to create a community blog where you can find all types of information, training tips and tricks, focusing on natural and organic ways of pet-owning and training.

Understanding your pet is like understanding a whole new world - and I want us to discover it together!

7 comments

  • I travel with my dog everywhere he’s a seasoned traveler, is well behaved and trained so there’s no anxiety for either of us.
    When we go to Europe I always check with that country to see what shots, paperwork, etc he might need. Stay out of England or they will quarantine your pet for 6 months
    He has a domestic & international microchip very important

    Barbara Colella
  • Just a quick note to pass on that my little Frenchie just loves her new bed! It’s hard to get her off of it! Can’t wait to see her reaction when her anxiety blanket arrives! I also wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog! Such great tips and information. Thank you.

    Heather
  • My Fred loves your dog beds. I bought 2 feels so secure in them and sleeps like a baby. I have one in the kitchen and one in the den. Fred enjoys both because where ever we are he’s right there so relaxed and comfy. Now I just ordered the car seat can’t wait to get it! I’m sure he will enjoy siting in that seat safe and happy!! Thank you for your great products and I know my Fred thanjs you too!!

    Susan Giordano
  • We have two pet puppies (Havanese) in our family. Caesar is 5 and Koko turns 4 next month. They mean “EVERYTHING” to us. Our travel plans and pet care revolves around them. I can’t envision any future without them. I’ve read your Guide for traveling with pets. I totally agree with everything that was mentioned. Even at my age (77), I found myself learning something new! THANKS!

    Clyde Lemaire
  • We love our 1st fluffy dog bed, that’s the reason I ordered 2 more. My babies love it, I have 2 Bulldogs and Maltese. I couldn’t be happier. Thank you

    Deb McCullah

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