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How to Travel With a Dog: 15 Safety Tips

Written by

Olivia Bornemeier, MBA

If you are planning a vacation or a cross-country move, you may be wondering how to travel with a dog. The good news is, that traveling with your dog is possible. But, there are some guidelines you should consider before starting your journey.

In this article, we'll share 15 tips for traveling with your dog on airlines, in the car, on boats, and on trains.

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15 tips for traveling with a dog

Keeping your dog healthy and safe while traveling is important for pet owners. Use these tips to ensure you and your pets have an enjoyable experience.

General travel tips

  General travel tips

There are a few tips that apply to any type of travel with your dog. Consider these points before traveling with your dog.

1. Be sure your dog is a good candidate for traveling.

All dogs are good dogs, but many dogs may not be good travel companions. If your dog has one or a few of the following traits, they may not make the best travel partner:

  • Does not get along with other dogs or humans
  • Has separation anxiety or aggressive behaviors
  • Has existing health problems
  • Is not vaccinated
  • Is not crate trained
  • Is not potty trained

2. Bring your dog's essential supplies.

Keeping your four-legged friend comfortable and safe is important while traveling. Consider bringing your dog's everyday supplies on your vacation.

If your dog takes medications or supplements, bring enough doses for your trip. This helps ensure your dog stays happy and healthy while on your holiday vacation.

Be sure to bring your dog's:

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3. Budget for necessary pet fees.

Some airlines, trains, and cruises have a pet fee for traveling dogs. Research your transportation company and ask about any pet fees they have.

4. Make a plan for your final destination.

When you arrive at your destination, be sure you have pet-friendly plans for your vacation. Research dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, hiking trails, and activities to do with your dog.

A great place to start researching your destination is the pet travel website of the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). If you are traveling to a high-risk country for rabies and other diseases, consider making other arrangements for your dog while you're away.


Not sure where to start? Check out our complete guide for pet-friendly vacations.

5. Stay current on vaccinations.

To travel with your dog, they will need to meet certain health requirements. Many airlines and other transportation companies require a current rabies vaccination and health certificate.

Vaccinations keep your dog safe while traveling, especially if you're traveling to high-risk countries for rabies. To get rabies shots or health certificates for your dog, schedule a vet visit.

Air travel tips

  Air travel tips

There are different guidelines for carry-on pets and checked pets on flights. And, international flights typically have different rules than domestic flights. Check out Alaska airlines’ travel rules for pets.

Whether you are traveling on American Airlines or flying internationally, here are some helpful tips for dogs traveling on planes.

6. Use a pet carrier.

Most airlines allow dogs in the cargo hold underneath the plane cabin. Airlines require that dogs fly in crates or pet carriers in the cargo area.

Your dog's crate or carrier should have enough room for your dog to stand, sit, turn around, and lie down in a natural position. Pet parents should also place a label that says "live animal" on the crate.

Be sure your pet carrier or crate does not exceed the maximum dimensions your airline allows. Airlines require all crates to have a food and water dish attached to the inside of the crate.

7. Look for pet relief areas.

Before you fly with your dog, research your departing and arrival airports' maps for relief areas. If you can't find a pet relief area by your gate, ask the airline personnel at the ticket counter for help.

8. Know where service dogs are permitted.

It's possible that your airline personnel may allow small dogs, service animals, and emotional support animals in the main cabin during the flight. If your service dog is allowed in a carry-on bag or carrier for your flight, be sure they are comfortable and calm.

Use your dog's favorite toy or treats to keep them occupied. And, be sure to visit a pet relief area before takeoff.

9. Keep your dog on a close leash.

Whether you're walking through the airport or sitting on the plane, keep your dog safe and close with a leash. Carry-on pets on planes need to be on leash for the duration of the flight.

Car travel tips

  Car travel tips

Whether you are traveling a short distance or across the country, be sure to keep your dog safe in the car. Here are some tips for spending time with your dog during a road trip.

10. Install a dog seat belt.

Don't let your dog ride in the car without a harness and safety belt. Seat belts keep dogs safe during car rides.

11. Stop for a break at a dog park.

If your road trip lasts many hours, consider stopping every two to three hours for a break. Find a dog park or rest stop to let your dog go to the bathroom, stretch, and play.

Keep a small bag of food and collapsible food and water bowls nearby to feed your dog if you travel during their normal meal times.

12. Never leave your dog in the car in extreme heat.

Traveling with pets in the summertime? Take note of extreme temperatures before you bring your dog in the car.

Be sure the air conditioning in your car is running to keep your dog cool. And, never leave your dog alone in a hot car.

13. Buy a hammock for your backseat or trunk.

If you find yourself traveling with dogs often, consider buying a dog hammock to protect your car seats and floors. Hammocks also provide more comfort for your dog while traveling.

Boats and cruises

  Boats and cruises

Traveling internationally on a boat or cruise is an exciting experience. If you're able to bring your dog along on the trip, consider this tip.

14. Map out your cruise and stops.

If your cruise is making stops at different ports along the trip, be sure your dog is allowed at each stop.

Most cruise lines allow service dogs and other service animals on board. If your cruise line allows pets, keep in mind the number of pets allowed in your party. If you have multiple dogs, they may not allow every pet.

Train travel tips

  Train travel tips

Pet travel on trains is common in most cities and countries. Before you get aboard a train, be sure you know your train's policy for pet travel.

15. Follow the train's pet policy.

Before you bring your pup on the train, check with the railway about their policy. You may need to complete the required paperwork to bring your pet.

Amtrak trains only accept pets under 25 pounds, but most European railways allow larger dogs.

While traveling with your dog is possible, it can be tricky. Pet parents can also consider overnight boarding for their dog or finding a dog sitter instead of bringing them along for the ride.


Meet Olivia Bornemeier

Olivia Bornemeier is a copywriter and photographer by day, dog mom by night to her red lab, Hank. With an MBA from Augustana University, she conducts intentional research and crafts meaningful content to help pet parents stay educated on all things pet wellness.