Top Ten Guidelines for the Travelling Pooch
by Stacey Waspe
Maybe you're going for your first sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa's. Perhaps you and your furmom are heading off for a quick mini-break (à la Bridget Jones). Or you're going away for summer holidays and taking the whole family. (No one can say you're not thoughtful.) Regardless of the type of trip you're planning, here are some guidelines that will help you get ready your holiday, ensuring that you remain as pampered as you would in the comfort of your own home.
1. Think ahead
Whether you're planning a sleepover at Grandma's, a weekend getaway with Mom to NYC (Merry has been trying to do this for years), or a summer holiday with the family, dogs in the know understand that the best canine trips are carefully planned.
How long are you going to be away?
Where do you want to go?
Where will you stay?
How are you going to get there and what are you going to do when you're there?
Who's going on the adventure?
If you feel like it might be too much for one pooch to plan, you are not alone. There are so many resources out there today to help you plan your trip if you're unsure about doing it yourself. Take a look at our Travel Directory for hotels and tour companies catering to canine travel. So, grab your furmom and get out there!
2. Make a list of emergency numbers
No one likes to think of emergencies while they're planning some time away, but it's best to be prepared. Have the name and telephone number of your vet written down, as well as your furmom's cellular phone number, pager number or another number where she can be easily reached. Try noting everything down on a magnetic pad that can be attached to your pooch-sitter's fridge if you're staying away from home for the night.
Of course, if you're travelling with your furmom, she'll still need this information in one handy location, including the numbers of local vets and emergency clinics for wherever you might be on your trip.
3. Write out your daily schedule, instructions or your itinerary
While your schedule may seem routine to you, it might be a new thing to Grandma and Grandpa. So if you're staying somewhere without your Mom, write out a quick list, including your likes, dislikes and any charming personality quirks you may have. It's not to say that your day can't be a little different, because that's part of the fun, but some creature comforts will make you feel more relaxed. Especially point out rules that cannot be broken: no people food, for example, if your furmom is super strict with your diet or no chocolate, which isn't safe for any dog.
If you're travelling with Mom and Dad, it's best to have at least a loose itinerary complete with the numbers of where you'll be staying. This will allow you to gather the numbers for vets and animal hospitals for each stop on your journey before you leave home. You can leave a copy of your travel plans behind for friends or family if they need to get in touch while you're on the road.
4. Bring your own first aid kit
Being away from home can be challenging, with the risk of upset tummies, itchy skin, cuts, scrapes and bruises, so it's important to have your own first aid kit at the ready wherever you're going. It's something that every furmom should have in their home and/or car (and we know your Mom knows that), but we think it's important enough to include on the list. Since you can never plan for absolutely everything, it's best to make like a girl scout and be prepared.
For the outdoor enthusiast and their furmom (or furdad), our Sport Dog Kit is just the ticket. While normally missing from commercially available first aid kits, there are a few things we think you should add to yours: Musher's Secret Paw Protector is a must, especially if you'll be doing some winter travelling this year. It's just the thing to keep all four paws happy and healthy. And let's not forget a little sun protection with sunscreen especially formulated for pets, regardless of the season.
For good measure, we like to throw in a little aromatherapy. Chill formula will allow you to feel safe and relaxed as you travel. We all find travel to be a little stressful sometimes, and it's important to remember that even though you're smelling new smells and making friends everywhere, you can get a little stressed yourself. For further relaxation, the Dog Massager is a great way for your furmom to calm you down for a restful night's sleep or to treat sore muscles from a long run on the beach. It'll also give you and your furdad a little quiet time in amongst the hustle and bustle of your trip.
5. Bring enough food and water for the duration of your trip
Regular food, water and treats are a must. Pack enough of your own food for your trip and if you'll be spending one or more nights in a different city, bringing bottled water from home is a great idea. This will ensure that there are no upset tummies to deal with from strange food or water while you're out and about. Speaking of potential digestive dilemmas, best bring a healthy supply of paper towels and plastic bags to deal with any messes. We like the environmentally friendly bags from Oops I Pooped.
6. It's important to always look good, no matter where you are
While it may not be your first thought when you think of getting away from it all, grooming is always of utmost importance, regardless of where you sleep. Since you can never be sure when you're going to get super dirty by falling into a mud puddle or playing in wet sand, it's best to be prepared. We love the new selections from John Paul in handy little kits. The Mini Travel Pack contains a mini Cleanse Shampoo, a tennis ball, a mini rope bone in a PVC zippered pouch. The Grooming Tote Set is also great for travel, since it comes complete with everything to make you shine like the star you are: Show Shine Spray, Grooming Brush, Floss Bone, and 4" Nail Clipppers.
And as you well know, Merry has given the nod to the Hemp Shampoo Bars on more the one occasion, as they are so good for your coat. Regardless of what you use, it's best to bring a little of your regular shampoo, because there won't be any negative skin reactions. In this case, it's not the best time to try something new. There will be plenty of new experiences in your days away from home, and by keeping some things the same, your furmom or furdad will be able to more easily determine the reason for itchy skin.
7. Don't forget your favorite toy
Your chew toys need to go along for the ride as well, so pack them along with a ball or frisbee so that you can get in a little game of fetch in the afternoon. (We must keep that girlish figure!) If your sitter has no pooch of their own, they are unlikely to have something safe for you to play with. Having your own toys will keep you from getting into trouble. Of course, while a loved toy is important, travel can call for something different, especially if you'll be trying a new activity. Maybe it'll be your first time at the beach, so you might want to try something that's really water friendly, so you can get the most out of the experience. Water is fun! Make sure you've brought a beach towel for drying off, as many hotels don't like you to take theirs down to the beach.
8. Pack your gear stylishly
For all this stuff, an overnight bag is a must have. The Doggie Bag combines a fashionable overnight bag with a comfy sleeping mat. Unzip the sides of the doggie bag to reveal the tufted mat. It's perfect for all your dog's travel accessories: food, food dish, water dish, leashes and collar, favorite toys and treats, grooming supplies and plastic bags. And what's more, it's machine washable!
9. Get your beauty sleep
For sleep overs and other overnight stays, bringing your regular bed may not be an option, especially if it's a more substantial piece of furniture. It may be too big or awkward for your furmom to move. That's why we love the idea of pillow beds. They are far more portable than their elaborate cousins, not only in your own apartment or house, but they can be thrown into the car and taken over to Aunt Louise's, even if you're just going for the day. A little piece of heaven where you are concerned: sure, you love to visit your scores of admirers, but when you want to take a nap, what better place is there then your own cosy bed?
Our Coco Chien-el Dog Bed is a great example of something portable and comfy. Boucle is so very! Accented with crisp black piping, the removable cover is made of boucle. Pillow insert is filled with 100% polyester. If you're away on a longer trip, many luxury hotels will provide you with an elegant bed of your very own for your stay in the hotel. Remember to ask about special canine packages when you're booking your holiday.
10. Carefully plan how you'll get to where you're going
If you're travelling by car, especially on a longer trip, you'll want to think about a car seat , like our Cozy Car-Go, if you're a small pup (under 25 lbs). Or maybe a canine seat belt, like the Ruff Rider Roadie, which is available in 9 different sizes and allows for sitting, standing or lying down (depending on how your furmom or furdad configures it).
If you're travelling by train or air, it's important that you be both comfortable and safe, which means that you'll need a good carrier. Look into getting a carrier that is airline approved. If you're just a wee thing (under 21lbs or so), your furmom may be able to take you on the flight with her, though your carrier will need to remain under the seat. If you're a cut above the rest, you'll need to travel as baggage, so remind your furmom of this. Rules for canine airline travel and requirements for carriers are changing all the time, so it's best to check with your airline when you book your flight regarding their policies.
That being said, we are particularly fond of both the Chocolate Italian Calfskin Leather Carrier and the Rossana Leather Dog Carrier in pink and black because they are both well-made and very stylish. Many passenger trains require dogs, regardless of size, to be placed in the luggage car, so it's best to ask detailed questions while you're booking your trip.
With all the things there are to think of and do while planning a trip, it's no wonder that most of us end up needing a vacation after our vacation. But as a canine, you now have so many options for travelling - so get out there and take advantage of them. Your furmom or furdad might like to come along for the ride too!