Off Leash: Tips for Traveling with Dogs

Before you pack up the car or book flights for your next vacation, don’t forget about the most loyal member of your family – your dog.


A road trip can be a great adventure for the whole family, including dogs. But, before you hit the road, dog and cat behavior consultant and WLS Radio show host Steve Dale says to consider your pet’s safety and comfort.

First, schedule a vet visit to make sure your dog is healthy enough for travel. Let the doctor know where you’re traveling, and take appropriate precautions like tick prevention if you’ll be in a woodsy area.

If your dog isn’t accustomed to riding cars, Dale says you should start easing it into auto travel with short trips a month before your journey. Of course, pack plenty of your pet’s regular food, and Dale says you should also bring water from home because unfamiliar water can upset dogs’ stomachs.

Pack food for the humans in the car as well, or plan on eating from a drive through. Stopping for lunch while your dog sits in the car is dangerous because the animal could be stolen or get sick from the heat.

“Leaving a dog in a hot car is actually against the law in many states,” Dale says.

You have your iPod, books, and of course, the license plate game to pass your time on the road, so don’t forget to bring some entertainment for your pup. A kong toy stuffed with frozen peanut butter can keep your dog occupied for hours, Dale says.

Once you figure out how to get your dog safely from point A to point B, then you have to consider lodging. Animal lover and avid traveler Kim Salerno combined her two passions when she launched The handy site is full of information like pet-friendly hotel chains, airline pet policies and other tips for traveling with furry friends.

Finally, if you’re vacationing with your pet, Salerno says to be sure to include dog-friendly activities on your itinerary. Hiking, swimming and boating are all ideal for dogs. And, depending on pet policies, you may even be able to bring your dog to certain shopping areas and restaurants that have outdoor seating.

“If you are not going to include them in activities of your trip, they should probably stay at home,” Salerno says.