Traveling with Your Pet

Pet Packing|Traveling Safely|Flying High |Hitting the Open Road |Pet-Friendly Lodging|Travel Training

Andrea Arden, the author of several books on dog training, runs Andrea Arden Dog Training in New York City. "How to Travel With Your Pet" was adapted from Fodor's Fodor's Road Guide USA: Where to Stay with Your Pet.

Taking a pet along on vacation can add to your travel adventures. Aside from the comfort they offer, pets also open the door to meeting new people. Animals are great conversation starters, and animal lovers are everywhere!

In return for companionship and fun, your pet will require much of your time, just as he does at home. In fact, if you elect to include him, your pet will probably be a major focus of your trip. Days must be planned keeping the pet's needs in mind. Often, this means you aren't as free to spend leisurely hours shopping or dining. Instead, you might consider hiring a pet-sitter or finding a good kennel. Sending your dog to a doggie camp or taking a dog sitter along on your trip are other options. If you are planning a "get-away-from-it-all" sort of trip, having your pet in tow may not be a good idea.

While the number of travelers accompanied by animals is growing, some hotels are still cautious to put out the welcome mat. In some areas of the country, finding decent accommodations that accept you and your pet can be a daunting task. Be prepared to spend extra time making travel plans.

Most important, if you don't think your pet will enjoy traveling, it is unfair to both your pet and yourself to make him do so. While most pets do have a remarkable ability to adapt to new situations, those that don't can become highly stressed and in some cases even ill.

Is Your Pet Travel-Ready?

The best candidates for travel are pets that are even-tempered, well behaved, sociable, and in good health. If your pet is anxious, aggressive, or likely to be highly stressed, it is probably in his best interest to make alternative plans, such as finding a place for him to board or having a pet-sitter stay in your home.

Though it is legal to transport an eight-week-old kitten or puppy by plane, it is advisable to wait until your cat or dog is at least 12 weeks old. At eight weeks animals are susceptible to many diseases because their immune systems are not fully developed. It's also important to control the environment of very young puppies and kittens so they don't have experiences that may frighten them. This is difficult to do while traveling.

Some trips are inappropriate for pets because of the environment, time of year, and nature of the journey. If the heat during a summertime trip from New York to Grand Canyon is tough on you, it will be almost unbearable for your dog. As a result, you might spend a lot of time worrying about your dog rather than sightseeing. The same trip made at a different time of year might be more pet-friendly.

You might also want to consider vacations you can take with your dog that will be as much of an adventure for him as for you. Dog camps, seminars, and workshops are a terrific way to have fun with and learn more about your canine companion. Two good sources for information about such trips are the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and Camp Gone to the Dogs.

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