Travel, especially with little ones can be complex. Add in holiday craze, a furry little one, and a little cold weather, and things can escalate quickly.

According to the dog walking network Rover, 37% of dog owners have skipped vacation to stay with their dog. Beyond that, 10% have hidden their dog in their luggage to sneak them into a hotel, and 3% have tried to disguise their dog as a baby when boarding a plane (seriously!).

It’s easy to forget that the whole intention of this endeavor is to relax with loved ones.

Being the owner of a corgi and an Australian shepherd, Rigby, and Sydney respectively, I know firsthand the challenge of pups on the go. And so do they. 

However, with a little planning, traveling with pets this holiday season can be a breeze.

So let’s make sure that our pets aren’t anxious, and in turn, we’re not, by making smart travel plans.

Traveling with dogs may have you begging for help

With pet travel, you have all the same options, but a lot more restrictions. So it helps to map out exactly where you’re headed and how you get there to make sure your dogs don’t become overly anxious, and in turn, you.

Traveling by Airplane

Many dogs, especially rescues, have a hard time with new people. Add in thousands rushing to make a flight, and a crowded security line and your dog can become overwhelmed quickly. For this reason, airlines all require a crate. So make sure you have a clean one ready to go.

According to the AKC, it should be:

  • Large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn, and lie down.
  • Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
  • Leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material.
  • Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
  • “Live Animal” label, arrows showing upright position, with owner’s name, address, and phone number.
  • Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy, and a water bottle, and your dog is ready to go.

Once you have the crate taken care of, consider the following.

You need to visit the vet prior, and have health certifications to the airline 10 days in advance of your flight, covering rabies and vaccinations as well as the dog must be weaned and over 8 weeks old.

Airlines take no responsibility for your dogs health, and ability to fly. That rests on you. For that reason, check with your vet about whether your dog should be tranquilized prior to flying. Another solution is CBD, which can help calm their nerves. And can be quite a bit cheaper and faster.

A dog with its head out a car window

Lastly, you need to make reservations for you AND your dog, when booking a flight. And it’s all on a first-come, first-served basis.

Traveling by Car

This tends to be a preferred option because there are just so many fewer checkpoints. But of course, not everything is in driving distance, and not everyone wants to spend hours in the car. Just be grateful you don’t have to drive your in-laws too.

Mind you, many dogs aren’t naturally comfortable with car travel and get anxious. So if you haven’t done it before, definitely test it out. Dog showing trouble signs? CBD has also been known to help with car travel.

A few more tips about traveling in the car and treating any dog anxiety that may arise.

  • Dogs should travel on an empty stomach to avoid car sickness. But bring lots of water for them!
  • Crack the windows and make sure there’s fresh air
  • Don’t put your dog in the bed of a truck - it can be extremely dangerous, along with riding with their head out the window
  • Make sure the kids don’t taunt or tease the dogs when they get bored, which is inevitable.

Other things to consider before traveling with dogs

As mentioned, with a little planning you can avoid a lot of headache. So make sure to think through the following.

  • Bring games and toys for the pets to keep them happy and occupied along the way
  • Plan bathroom breaks
  • Pack plenty of food and water

Beyond the logistics, here are a few more tips on treating dog anxiety on the road

Like humans, movement is healthy. Plan and allow for exercise along the way. This helps burn off energy, and prevent panics and anxiousness.

With that, think about the balance of time in the car or plane and balance that with time out of the vessel.

Lastly, being an advocate for plants over pills, it’s recommend to bring CBD to help the furries keep their cool. So many people have trouble managing an anxious dog people who tried it have come back singing its praises.

A yorkie in snow

Wrapping it all up for a beautiful holiday

Don’t overthink it. The holidays are fun, family is loving and dogs are there for you if not. So take your time, plan ahead, and work patience into the agenda somewhere.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and best wishes to you and your furry family.