Travelling and the Dog

Just like the rest of the family, your dog needs somewhere to rest his head at the end of the day. With a little research before you leave, you’ll find just the place – a campsite, a hotel or, if he can’t be with you, a boarding kennel, for a happy stay.

Under Canvas:
Canines love camping out, but not all campsites love dogs. National forests allow dogs at campsites, but some national parks and state parks do not. If you plan to visit one, call ahead to check if dogs are allowed. Dogs should always be kept tethered in a campsite for the comfort of others, the preservation of wildlife and your dog’s safety.

Dog - Friendly Hotels:
If your dog’s the Jacuzzi and spa type, you may well opt for one of the many hotels around the country that put out the welcome mat for pets. Check hotels in the area you’re visiting before you leave home, and book in advance. Don’t just drive somewhere and hope to find a hotel that takes dogs. You may end up sleeping in the car.

Tracking Down Dog-Doting Digs:
“There are many available guidebooks on where to stay with your pet,” says Maria Goodavage, author of California Dog lovers’ Companion and the bay area dog lovers’ companion. “If you are an automobile association of America member, you can use the organization’s free guides. You can also call the local humane society in the area where you will be staying and ask for a reference to a good dogs - allowed hotel.” Many bed -and - breakfast hotels are also happy to have dogs.

“Start by picking a place that sounds good to you, then do a little research,” says Goodavage. Call and talk to the owners to get a sense of how welcome your dog will be. “If dog treats are provided or other special canine services, chances are your dog will be very welcome.”

The well-behaved Guest:
He’s on holiday, but his good manners shouldn’t be – it’s up to you to make sure he’s showing his best behavior. “Dogs make incredible guests if their owners know how to handle them,” says Goodavage. This means taking some precautions to ensure that your dog does not disturb other guests or ruin the room.

“Whatever you do, don’t leave your dog alone in a hotel room,” says Goodavage. “An anxious dog can tear a hotel room apart in no time.” If you must leave your dog alone for a short time keep him confined to his crate. Be sure to inform the hotel manager so cleaning staff don’t get a nasty surprise when they enter the room.

If your dog tends to bark at strange noises, ask for a room where there’s little foot traffic, says Goodavage. She also recommends brining a sheet from home to put on the bed if your dog likes to cuddle up with you at night. No one wants him leaving his hair on the bedclothes.

If your dog isn’t housebroken, he’s isn’t hotel – broken. If you have any doubts about his toilet habits, go camping instead.

Boarding Kennels:
It’s not always possible, or sensible, to take your dog with you, especially if you’re flying. He shouldn’t be left at home either, unless you can get a friend or family member to move into your house to dog sit while you’re gone. If that’s not possible, a boarding kennel may be at the best choice.

There are about 6500 boarding kennels to choose from the in the United States and Canada. This is going to be your dog’s temporary home in your absence, so don’t just drop your dog off at the first one you drive past on your way out of town. Reassure yourself that the kennel you choose will be providing him with the kind of care that he’s used to from you.

Choosing the Right Kennel:
Ask dog – owning friends for recommendations or check the yellow pages, says Jim Krack, executive director of the American Boarding Kennels Association. Then call your local better Business Bureau and ask if any complaints have been lodged against the kennel you’ve decided on. Telephone the kennel to make sure it can take your pet while you will be away. “Also make an appointment to visit, to see it for yourself,” advises Krack. “A personal visit is essential to determine whether it will be satisfactory.”

When you arrive at the kennel, take a good look around. Is it neat and clean? Are enclosures high enough so a dog can’t climb out? Are they made from sturdy, well maintained materials? Are there solid dividers between them so neighboring dogs can’t make contact with your pet?

Quality Care:
It’s also important to determine what level of care and supervision your pet will receive. “Proper supervision is the key to good boarding,” says Krack. “Pets should be checked frequently during the day by someone who is trained to recognize signs of illness and distress.” Some experts recommend using only kennels that provide such supervision around the clock.

Find out how water is provided. “Individual containers full of clean drinking water should be available to each animal,” says Krack. Ask, too, if you can bring a supply of your dog’s regular food. If his diet doesn’t have to be changed, he shouldn’t develop diarrhea while you are gone.

Finally, be sure that the kennel requires all dogs to be immunized against distemper, parvovirus, rabies and tracheobronchitis, and that veterinary services are available should they be needed.