Five tips for travelling with your dog

A lady and her dog travel in a car Photo by Vane Nunes

It’s true that bringing Fido requires extra packing, planning and training, but having pets along offers some benefits, too. Dogs can create some of the best memories on a holiday.

While I dream of buying the perfect vacation property in the future, the perks of exploring various rentals have given me the chance to test out features and amenities without a significant financial commitment. 

After travelling across Canada with two husky mixes since they were adolescent puppies, I’ve learned a few things about how to make the most of our trips. Cottages and cabins are my preferred style of rental with dogs, because they offer more privacy, soundproofing and easy exits for those late night potty breaks.

Of course, we’ve had some ups and downs. It is undoubtedly more work to bring two fluffy squirrel chasers into the wilderness, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. The enthusiasm dogs show for the outdoors is infectious, and through them I am inspired to visit places beyond my comfort zone.

Here are my top 5 tips for travelling with dogs:

Dog proof the space (as best you can)

When I first check into a rental property, the huskies wait in their kennels until I do a thorough sweep of all tempting items that would be costly to replace. As they’ve gotten older and wiser, this has become less important, but my rascals used to nibble remote controls and still love to counter surf. If there are any welcome goodies, I put them away and out of paw’s reach. If there is a fenced yard, check it for gaps a dog might be able to fit through, especially if their recall isn’t the best.

My little escape artist once popped out of a tiny gap in the gate to chase after deer, bouncing through the forest after them as if she were one herself. That was an invigorating chase, but not one I would care to repeat (especially for the deer’s sake). The lesson: bring tie down stakes and a mallet, in case the fence just can’t be trusted.

Keep up the training

My dogs are rescues, and our travels have offered many training opportunities for new and novel experiences. That being said, a holiday isn’t the best time to work on the basics. When you travel with dogs, kennel training is your ally. Not only does it keep them safe and out of trouble, but it helps with potty training, too. Wiping up messes indoors isn’t exactly how I love to spend my vacation.

Know the local wildlife

Part of the appeal of a cabin or cottage is, of course, the location. Whether the property is deep in the woods, on an island, a lake, or up in the mountains, it’s important to be conscious of what else you and your dogs are sharing the environment with. Family pets can even attract coyotes, bears, and cougars, who might be tempted to approach if they think they have a chance at food. Predators are part of the outdoors, and we are sharing their space when we visit, so don’t leave your pets unattended. A bell fastened to your pup’s collar can help keep from catching  larger critters by surprise, but I also carry a deterrent horn if needed. 

Have an emergency kit

It’s great to get away into the wilderness and enjoy the peace of secluded locations. Your dog will thank you! However, the downside to places, both for humans and our furry friends, is the limited access to emergency services and healthcare.

I bought a generic first aid kit for dogs years ago, but here are some extra additions you don’t normally find in them that I added to mine:

  • Dog safe allergy medication (for bee stings)
  • A carry sling in case your pup injures themselves away from the car
  • Activated charcoal as a backup home remedy in case Fido eats a toxin
  • Pain medication
  • Anxiety treats

Sometimes, a kit isn’t going to cut it, and you may need to rush your dog to the vet. Once you have your stays booked, check ahead of time to find out where the closest vets are and keep their phone number, address, and hours of operation at the ready, in case cell service and wifi aren’t available.

Prepare for messes

Accidents happen, even to the best of dogs. An upset stomach can lead to all kinds of unpleasant substances inside your cabin. I always bring my own additional supplies, because sometimes the ones provided are not enough for the mess. I learned that in a less-than-fun way. So, do yourself the favour of packing extra towels, cleanup fluids, and gloves. 

Dogs like to bring the outdoors in on their paws and coat. A penalty cleaning bill is always a damper on the travel budget. Not to mention, I would want anyone using my property to respect it, and I take my guest ratings seriously. Both me and my dogs get 5+ reviews from hosts, which makes booking a breeze.

Pack smart with these hacks

I swear by packing cubes! They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and work to tame the chaos in your cargo. Waterproof cubes are perfect to store food, treats, toys, blankets, a first aid kit, those cleaning supplies, and any extra gear. My other trick is bringing compact roll-up dog beds. They preserve cargo space while giving your special furry friends a place to sleep after a long fun day of adventures with you.

Happy travels!

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