One of the best things about being a dog owner is sharing incredible experiences with your best bud. These experiences can range from simple day-to-day events to exciting vacations. If you’re looking to plan some dog-friendly vacations and don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place.

This guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to plan some amazing vacations with your dog. From preparing the equipment to choosing the destination and accommodation. By the end of this guide, you’ll be a true dog-friendly vacation expert.

1. Give your vet a call

There’s no use in planning a dog-friendly vacation with a dog that isn’t healthy enough to travel. Besides knowing if your dog is healthy enough, you’ll also need to ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. Take a moment to discuss with your vet any possible health issues that may arise during your trip. Also ask about possible remedies to treat car sickness, diarrhea, and restlessness. Better safe than sorry, right?

Consider microchipping your dog. If your dog is already microchipped make sure your contact information is up to date. That way you’re increasing your chances of finding your dog in case you get separated from each other. If you’re traveling by plane, you’ll need to have a clean bill of health in order for your dog to travel with you.

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2. Pick a dog-friendly vacation destination

When choosing where to go with your pooch, think about its comfort. Keep in mind that you won’t cover as many miles as you could if you were on your own. As fun as it may seem to you, traveling can actually cause anxiety in some dogs. To prevent or relieve any anxiety, try to stick to your dog’s normal feeding and exercising schedule. Set alarms to remind you when it’s time for your dog to eat or go for a walk to burn off some energy. You’ll want to include these in your plans so you can both have a good time.

Use this trip planner to plan stops along the way. There you’ll find dog parks, roadside attractions, or places where you can stop and eat along the way. Whether you want to visit national parks or explore a new city, there are a lot of dog-friendly destinations to choose from. However, avoid packing your itinerary with too many places to visit. Remember to plan time to stop and enjoy the trip.

If you’re flying check if that destination allows dogs and you’re not going to run into any problems on arrival. Some destinations may ask dogs to go through a quarantine period. This means you may need to be apart for some days as soon as you land.

3. Prepare for the trip

The first thing you’ll want to do is brush up on your dog’s obedience training. Avoid dangerous situations and teach your dog commands such as “Come” and “Heel”. Test your dog’s obedience skills before you leave for your trip.

If you’re traveling by car, besides ensuring your car is ready for the trip, you’ll also need to make it ready for your dog. You’ll need to install a crate, carrier, or car harness to prevent your dog from moving around inside the car. This will keep your dog as safe as possible in the event of an accident. It will also stop your dog from getting in the way of your driving and being a distraction. Get your dog used to being in the car beforehand.

You’ll also need to get some gear ready to take your dog with you. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Drinking water
  • Dog food and treats
  • Medications, vitamins, and supplements your dog may need
  • Food and water containers that are designed for travel
  • Your dog’s bed and some toys
  • First-aid kit (Learn more about preparing one in our article about dog emergencies)
  • ID tags attached to your dog’s collar that contain up-to-date contact information
  • Leash
  • Waste bags
  • Wet towels in case you need to clean your dog
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Current photo of your dog in case you get separated

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4. Book a dog-friendly hotel

This can be a tricky task. Although more accommodations welcome pets, some are not as enthusiastic about it. To help you understand if a hotel truly dog-friendly, it’s a great idea to call or send an email asking the staff questions such as:

  • Does the hotel accept dogs?
  • Are there any weight or breed restrictions?
  • How many pets does the hotel per room? (In case you’re taking more than one dog)
  • Is there a pet fee?
  • What amenities does the hotel offer for dogs? (the most important one is a grassy dog relief area)
  • Can dogs be left unattended in the room?
  • Are some areas of the hotel off-limits to dogs?

To help you on your search, the American Kennel Club put together a list of dog-friendly hotel chains you can choose from.

5. Plan dog-friendly activities

Always double-check if you’re allowed to take your dog with you in all the activities you plan. Some beaches don’t allow dogs at certain times of the year, some national parks don’t allow dogs at all. Pick fun dog-friendly activities to avoid any disappointment. If you’re planning on doing something that doesn’t allow dogs, hire a dog sitting service. Instead of leaving your dog alone in the hotel room, ask the hotel if they have that service. If not, ask for a recommendation for a good dog sitter nearby.

Making sense of it all

Planning dog-friendly vacations takes time and preparation. But it’s crucial to ensure that both you and your pooch have the best time together. After you’re done with all the research and planning, it’s time to enjoy the fun part which is to actually go on the trip!

Beware that, even with very detailed planning, things can sometimes be different than expected. When this happens, look at it as a new adventure instead of getting angry about it. Focus on enjoying your dog’s company and sharing this incredible experience. By the end of your vacation, your bond will be stronger than ever!