The Holidays are a very busy travel time and arrangements need to be in place well before you travel with your pet. More pet owners are taking their dogs when traveling. Whether you travel by car, truck, plane or train, help ensure a safe and pleasant journey by taking these safety precautions.
General Travel Tips
- No matter what your mode of travel, the single best safe practice you can employ to keep your dog safe during the journey is to keep him restrained.
- Affix current identification to your dog as well as microchipped, which provides a permanent form of I.D. to help ensure your dog is returned to you if it becomes lost.
- Carry a recent photograph of your dog to make it easier for others to help you look for it if it gets lost during the trip.
- If your dog is prone to anxiety or motion sickness, consult with your veterinarian.
- A general rule of thumb is to feed your pet their usual meal one to two hours before travel. (If your dog is prone to motion sickness, feed it two to four hours before travel.) Do not give food or water during travel as it may spill or cause it to need to go to the bathroom. Adult dogs can go 8 to 12 hours without food or water.
Airline or Train Travel
- Whether your dog will go in the cabin with you or in the cargo hold, your dog will need to travel in an airline (or train) -approved carrier. Check the airline (or train line) website for requirements.
- If your pet will travel as cargo, check for restrictions on any health/immunization and other requirements.
- Use direct flights to avoid mix-ups during transfers or the possibility of delays in getting your pet off the plane. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold.
- Upon arrival at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place, and then clip a leash on your dog so you can safely examine it. If anything seems wrong, take your dog for medical attention right away.
- No matter how long or short the journey, your dog should be restrained at all times. An unrestrained dog is dangerous to itself and others. A dog can become a flying projectile that can injure you, your passengers or itself.
- Secure your dog in the back seat (dogs riding in the front seat can be seriously hurt if the airbags deploy) with a pet travel safety harness or car seat, or in a pet carrier fastened to a seatbelt. If you drive an SUV, install a pet barrier to keep the dog in the back area of the vehicle as well as securing it in a harness and attaching it to the hooks in the floor.
- If you must transport your dog in the bed of a pickup, use a crate or carrier secured to the truck bed to prevent it from being thrown into traffic at a sudden stop.
- Do not allow your dog to ride with its head out the window. Road debris and other flying objects can injure its eyes or become lodged in its nose or ears.
- Before you set out on your journey and after arriving at your destination, give your dog plenty of exercise. This will help it be more relaxed and able to acclimate to the new surroundings.
- When stopping for a break and before you open the car door, attach a leash to your dog’s collar so it can’t escape. Even the most obedient pet can become disoriented when traveling. Always use a leash to walk your dog.
- On a long car ride, stop periodically to allow your dog to go to the bathroom, walk around and have a small drink of water.
- Always be aware of temperature extremes. Your car is like an oven under the blazing sun and a freezer in the bitter cold.
A happy, well-socialized dog that knows you will always be there to keep it safe and secure will enjoy traveling to new places with you.
Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, one of the world’s largest dog training company. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com.