Traveling with Fido? Ask the Dogfather.

This dog in the desert has definitely traveled off-Island.

Trainer Tom Shelby helps you figure out Fido.

Dear Dogfather,
We travel a lot with our dog “Elle”, and have always wondered:
What are the safest options for traveling with a dog on an airplane? What do you do if a dog gets carsick? What are some creative ways to make sure your dog gets enough exercise on a long car trip if you’re traveling someplace without any roadside parks?
And last — any suggestions on dog-friendly hotel chains or places to stay that aren’t icky?

Thank you!
— Signed,
Always on the road with Elle.

Hi Always on the road with Elle,
I think traveling with a dog is one of the greatest things you can do to socialize your four-legged significant other. As for airplane safety, it would be good to know if we’re talking about a mastiff or a mini pin. My mini pin MacDuff flew across the country four times in a soft carry case under the seat in front of me. That’s the best. However, in the likely event that your dog doesn’t fit under an airplane seat, you have two choices. The first, obvious one is in cargo in the belly of the plane. Plenty of people do it and most of the time it’s OK. I’ve never done it and probably never will. There is another possible flying choice. Somebody once told me there’s an airline that transports pets in the cabin of the plane, no owners, just the dogs and cats. Might be worth searching for. I would check an airline’s stats before a cargo ride.

Lots of people drug their dogs for flying. Small amount of food beforehand, no water in the crate, each airline will have very specific rules and regs. There are plenty of pet transport companies that handle all the legal details, another google search if you want to go that route.

As for traveling by car, nothing ruins a great CD book like the sound of a dog in the backseat hurling! I still have that fond memory of the day I picked up Mikey from the breeder. He was a 9 week old Dobe and promptly leaned forward from the back seat of the car and threw up all over the deli sandwich I just took out of the wrapper.

The thing to do is have success build on success. Start with Elle hungry, in the car with the engine off,  and give her pieces of chicken or steak. Next, have her snacking on her favorites with the engine on, but the car doesn’t move. Stay parked and do this so she’s happy to hop in the car. When that’s successful it’s time for a drive. A very short one, too short for her to get sick, and end up in a place where she has fun. Lots of it. Then start increasing the length of the drives, without overdoing it. Keep it successful. There’s also a few remedies for dogs, ginger being one of them.

The Internet can make finding roadside parks pretty easy, and if none are available en route you can always exit the highway and find a place to take a walk. And if Elle misses serious exercise once in awhile, it’s ok. Besides, travel is just as tiring for our canine friends as it is for us.

Warren Buffet and I probably have different ideas of what constitutes an icky hotel. I recently stayed at a Comfort Inn with my two dogs, MacDuff and Paula, and I would describe this one as one step above a dive. That doesn’t mean that all Comfort Inns will accept dogs, nor does it mean that there aren’t any real nice ones. So you’ll have to do your own homework on that one.

Elle is lucky to have a travel partner. Keep it up.  Best of luck.
The Dogfather

Editor’s note: the website has city-by-city listings of pet-friendly lodging, along with a list of pet policies for various airlines.
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