Posted on September 25 2018
Ah Wanderlust! We all get the urge to travel but what to do when you want to take your furry friend with you? We’ve seen the gorgeous pics of famous Insta dogs kayaking in the tropics, walking on white beaches and climbing snowy mountains but how can you make it work practically? The world is your oyster with these great tips from work/traveller Daniel Siemaszkiewicz, written for Buffer.
My Guide to Traveling with a Dog
Nomading with a dog can be done without losing your mind or your dog. If you’re planning on doing it, I’d love to share some pieces of advice that might help!
Crate train your new best friend
People dread the idea of bringing their dog on a plane. If they’re too big, which was the case for my lab Eca, they’ll have to fly in the undercarriage.
But, wait… this is not as bad as it sounds. The plane’s undercarriage is set to the same air pressure and temperature as the cabin where we fly. If you want to compare these conditions to ours in the cabin, dogs get way more leg room as well. Eca’s crate was the equivalent of a king-sized bed.
Crate training them from day one will make this inevitable obstacle painless. I used Cesar Milan’s method and it worked like a charm. Eca was totally relaxed when we arrived at our destination.
Get your timing right with vaccinations and paperwork
This step in getting your dog ready to travel is where I almost blew it. Let’s make sure you don’t do the same.
Firstly, you’re going to want to review the customs laws of the country you’re traveling to. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-stop resource for this, as each country has their own. This step is super important! There are microchips, shots, and forms involved. Some countries won’t allow dogs from certain other countries to enter at all, and others will have a mandatory quarantine.
Each country will require you fill out a pet passport for your dog. It sounds cute, but it’s no joke. Here’s a handy resource for downloading this necessary paperwork for each country. Personally, I botched the paperwork and only had it signed by my vet. Upon landing in Azores Portugal, customs let me know that the paperwork also had to be signed by another Canadian regulatory body and that what I had wasn’t useful. They let me know that my dog could be quarantined for 14 days… Luckily Eca was begging for a belly rub as customs debated this. They settled on getting him another rabies shot at the local vet and merrily on my way I went……after the belly rub of course.
Notifying your airline
So, your best friend has all their shots and paperwork ready, and their crate has been solidified as their second home. It’s time to get in touch with your airline to notify them that you’ll be traveling with a dog.
Warning: Don’t skip this! It’ll ensure things go smoothly once your trip comes around. While an airline will transport animals for one flight, that same airline might not for a another route.
Make sure you are given written confirmation or something official that states that the airline has been notified you’ll be traveling with your dog. I didn’t and I was put on a later flight, prolonging my trip unnecessarily.
You did it. You’re at that glorious moment where you realize this might actually work. Your dog loves their crate, and the vaccinations and paperwork are organized. Now the trip itself is the next challenge.
Here are some tips to make it a smooth one! Fill your dog’s crate with some of your dirty laundry. I know, don’t judge me. But your dog will identify your smell and it will have a calming effect, I promise. You can also throw in one or two favourite chew toys.
Before you fly, make sure to take your dog out for a super rigorous session of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog, and you’ll want your dog on the brink of collapse for this.
In fact, I’ve often been asked if I gave my dog any pills for the flight. In my opinion, sedatives aren't the best option. Instead, working diligently to properly crate train your animal so they’re nice and calm in the crate (surrounded by your dirty socks), can really pay off.
Make sure your Airbnb or hotel is pet-friendly.
I forgot to tell my friends about bringing Eca on this surf trip. We snuck him into the hostel at first but I was caught by the front desk taking him out late at night. It wasn’t my best moment, but to my surprise, they didn’t send me packing; the fact that it was 1am worked in my favor! Plus, Eca was asking for another belly rub.
As they called the manager, I slipped away to my room and set up Eca on the balcony. I don’t recommend this as a way to go about things, please learn from my mistake on this one!
So, despite a few minor hiccups (as expected when it’s your first rodeo a.k.a. first trip with your dog), bringing Eca was totally worth the effort for me.
It went so well, I decided to continue the trip to Lisbon, Portugal and explore the coastline for a few months. In case you’d like to follow along with this adventure, our next stop will be the Canadian Rockies!