Have Dog, Will Travel
More and more of us are taking our dogs with us when we go on errands, day trips, and even coast-to-coast excursions. The reasons are simple. People love their pets and consider them members of the family, says Bob Vetere, CEO of the . And it's now easier and more pleasant than ever to travel with your dog.
Hotel chains such as Loews, W, and Westin offer special amenities to welcome pets, while others simply offer a great room. To make the trip easier, there's a growing number of products ranging from the practical (car restraints) to the plush (a 3-square-foot piece of sod you can unroll anywhere to replicate, well, a lawn).
In fact, it's so much fun to travel with Fido that 62% of US pet owners surveyed by the American Animal Hospital Association do so annually. Yes, most of those road trip companions are dogs. (Cats seem to view car rides as an ordeal, not an adventure.)
But a successful trip with your canine pal takes some planning. "We advise people to keep a current photo of their dog in the glove compartment in case they get separated from their pet and need to put up posters or go to animal shelters in the area where they're traveling," says Jacque Lynn Schultz, companion animal programs advisor for the ASPCA in New York City and a certified pet dog trainer.
And traveling isn't for every dog, she warns. To acclimate yours to life on the road, start by having him sit in your parked car, and give him a treat. Do this a few times, and then go out for a series of short drives. Gradually increase time in the car—as long as your dog demonstrates that he enjoys the ride. "Some want to be homebodies," Schultz says. "Don't make both of you miserable by trying to force your dog to be your traveling buddy."
Before you take off on a longer trip, check that you've covered the following bases as well:[pagebreak]
Basic obedienceTeach your dog the essential obedience commands: sit, stay, down, and come. "Training is extremely important if you plan to travel with your dog," says Robyn Peters, owner and publisher of DogGone Newsletter. "If he should get loose in a strange area, you want to know that he will come back to you when you call him."
Safe seating It may be easier to have your dog roam free in the car, but the safest place for him is in a comfortable restraint harness—preferably in the backseat—or in a secured crate. If you're in an accident, your unrestrained dog can become a projectile. A terrified or injured dog ejected from a car can wander off or be hit by oncoming cars.
Clear ID Experts at the ASPCA recommend that your dog wear a flat collar with an ID tag imprinted with your home address and/or phone number. If you're traveling out of town, add a temporary tag with your cell phone number and the number where you'll be staying.
Safe exits When making stops, get into the habit of turning off the ignition and putting on your dog's leash before you get out. Next, check out the area around your car to be sure there are no unleashed dogs that might pose a threat. As you open the door, tell your dog to sit or stay. Then hold his leash securely before allowing him to exit. Never let your dog run off-leash in unfamiliar surroundings. Even the best-trained dog has been known to bolt.
- Never let your dog travel in the open bed of a pickup truck; a sudden stop can catapult him.
- Never let your dog stick his head out the window; debris can lodge in his eyes or ears.
- Never leave your dog inside a closed car during hot weather, especially when it's warmer than 75°F; he can develop heat stroke and die.
Road Gear: Products for a Safe Trip
Car Seat Stowaway, This soft, plush-lined seat for smaller dogs features a harness attachment and converts into a snuggly bed at your destination. An attached suitcase keeps travel essentials organized and elevates your pet about 10 inches. (Harness sold separately.) Call (800) 826-7206, or visit www.drsfostersmith.com.
Travel Food and Water Bowls, (small) or (large)They're portable, collapsible, and 100% waterproof. Fold the bowls and they'll fit easily into your pocket or purse. Call (800) 381-1516, or visit www.planetdog.com.
Seat Belt Harness, This durable, fully adjustable harness works like a doggy seat belt--just thread your car's seat belt through the specially designed slot. The harness is fleece-lined for comfort and sized to fit medium and large dogs. Call (800) 381-1516, or visit www.planetdog.com.
Pet Nets and Barriers, to What's a good spot for a large dog on the go? The back of your SUV, of course. To separate dog from driver, use easy-to-install, removable pet nets and barriers.
Video: Astoundingly Awesome Tales: Have Dog Will Travel
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