Preparing Your Dog for the Trip
If you do some preparing for your trip, traveling will be easier on your dog… as well as on yourself. There is a lot you can do to prepare your dog, you can prepare him/her for the destination as well as for the flight.
Preparing for the Destination
Knowing that I would take my little dog to many different places, I made sure to expose him to as many different places as I could when he was a puppy. Within our first month together we had visited the sea, a forest, a lake, and the mountains. We had stopped to look at some cows in a field, a busy shopping-mall, a restaurant and frankly as many different environments as I could think of.
I even made a point of visiting ethnically diverse neighborhoods because I had read about a Swedish woman who lived in Africa and constantly got barked at by dogs who had never seen a white person. I don’t want a racist dog; that would be horribly embarrassing.
So far my dog traveler dog Pompe has been to quite a few different places in Europe. On his dog blog, there are many short stories about his travel experiences.
Preparing for the Flight
Prior to my dog’s first flight, I tried to prepare him for as many things about it as I could. I have noticed that when I’m in a new situation I’m less comfortable than when I’ve been in that situation before and am used to it. I figured that it’s probably the same for my dog, so I aimed at simulating the flight-situation.
To prepare Pompe for the flight I decided to make sure he was as comfortable as could be in the travel-box, also when it was lifted around and when it was noisy. So, right after I had bought the box (they come with detachable wheels), I put him in the box and started pulling it behind me by his leash that I had attached to the handle.
My little dog Pompe was annoyed with me for putting him into the box. He looked at me with an irritated expression in his eyes. He doesn’t like to be confined into small spaces such as the cage he has to sit in by law when traveling by car in Sweden.
At the first pull of the box, Pompe looked a little bit scared, wondering what was going on. But it wasn’t too bad, so I continued. He soon got used to the moving box. At a few points he started whining, signaling to me that he wanted to get out of the box. I came to comfort him, but then carried on pulling the box down the street with him inside it.
It just took a few minutes, maybe twenty minutes, for him to feel fine with the moving box-situation. So then we were ready for the next step, the bus! I lifted the box with him inside it onto a bus and sat next to it during the 15-minute ride. Also this went fine, so we proceeded to the next step of my box-training exercise, the super-busy Grand Central station in Stockholm.
I pulled my little dog, inside the big plastic travel-box, back and forth in the Grand Central station for probably 30 minutes. I even carried him up and down moving escalators with him inside the travel-box the entire time.
Train-stations are natural places for travel, so they are good places to prepare dogs for flight-boxes. No one looks wondering at you for pulling a travel-box, and the environment with many people, luggage, noise and different smells is similar to that of airports.
After about an hour and a half I felt confident that I had prepared him enough because every time I looked at him he was relaxed in his box. He just laid there and didn’t react to anything outside, so I decided he was as prepared as I could get him for flying.
But still, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous the first time we flew. Would he still be scared in the hold of the airplane? Are dog-areas of the airplane holds really as nice as the airlines say? Did I prepare him enough? But when we re-joined after our first flight, I was very happy to see that he had taken it great; he showed no signs of distress.
You usually pay a bit more for accommodation for you and your dog than you would have if you traveled alone. Here I present several tips for finding high-value travel accommodation for you and your dog and other tips that will make the experience with the accommodation provider easier.
Hotel-Stays with Dogs are Usually More Expensive
Many hotels charge an extra fee for dogs. Also, when traveling with a dog, you have fewer hotels and apartments to choose from than you otherwise have. Far from all accommodation providers accept dogs, no matter how small, hypoallergenic and lovable they are. A limited selection usually (but not always) means you pay more than you otherwise would have, so budget for that.
Another reason why hotel stays with dogs may be more expensive is that you will probably want to stay as centrally as possible. If you stay close to the things you want to see on your trip you don’t have to spend as much time going to and from the hotel when you want to leave your dog in the room while you do non-dog-friendly activities.
Other Types of Dog-Friendly Accommodation
You may not want to stay in a hotel but in an apartment? We found that a higher percentage of renters on Airbnb accept dogs than hotels on booking.com, so renting an apartment or room from a private person through Airbnb could be a good solution to get good and affordable accommodation for you and your traveler dog.
There are also alternative and/or new accommodation-concepts to explore. Pompe and I have stayed in Coworking/Coliving spaces such as CoCoHub in Malta. Coworking/Coliving spaces seem to be opening all over the world at a fast pace. They are designed for people who combine work (from their laptops) and travel, so apart from bedrooms, they have office space and a shared kitchen.
We haven’t explored an awful lot of Coworking/Coliving spaces yet, but they seem to be more dog-friendly than many other types of accommodation. In Pompe’s blog, you can read about our experience of staying with a dog at CoCoHub Malta including the friends he made there.
Hotel-Prices are Lower Out of Peak Tourist Season
However, in low season there are usually loads of vacant hotel rooms, so it’s a great time to travel as you up your chances of finding cheap high-quality accommodation. And of course, there are many additional reasons to go when your destination is not over-crowded with tourists. Tours, restaurants, sidewalks etc. are less crowded, a lot of things are cheaper, and the locals are not (as) stressed and have more time to chat with you and your dog.
If you can’t go during the low season, I understand—not everyone can. But do what you can to avoid hitting the height of the tourist season. The tail ends of the tourist seasons are usually great times to go as well.
Call the Hotel in Advance
Although you can usually find information online about which hotels accept dogs, for instance on booking.com, you need to call the hotel before you make your booking.
A lot of times, hotels only have a few rooms where dogs are allowed. Our experience is that the online booking-systems are not yet sophisticated enough to list vacancies in dog-friendly rooms. The availability and price-listings you find online show the availability in the whole hotel, even if you filtered out dog-friendly rooms. So give the hotel a short call to make sure one of their dog-friendly rooms are available before you book.
‘Dogs Allowed’ is not Black or White
Nothing is black or white in the world, and neither are dog-policies in tourist accommodation. Policies sometimes change over time and all booking-systems are not immediately updated with policy-changes. Sometimes certain types of dogs are allowed, but booking-systems may not be designed to show detailed dog-policies, forcing the hotel-owners to either indicate their policy as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, which could leave out valuable information.
Other times, especially for smaller hotels and private accommodation, the owners can be flexible with their policies if they want your business (higher chance of that in low-season and if you have a small dog).
This all means that if you find accommodation that you like, it’s worth making a call to see if they can accept you and your dog. During the call, make sure to give all of the reasons they should accept you such as I’m looking to stay for several days, my dog is a friendly non-aggressive dog, he/she is small and he/she is hypoallergenic.
We have also noticed that things are not as simple as ‘yes dogs are allowed’ or ‘no, dogs are not allowed’. Sometimes dogs are allowed in the rooms, but not in the common areas of the hotel. This slightly odd policy could be a problem if you want to enjoy those spaces but not leave your dog alone in the room. So while you are on the phone with the hotel, ask if your dog is allowed in common areas and the hotel restaurant.
Where is My Dog Welcome?
When traveling, will your dog have to stay alone in the hotel room or can he/she come with you when you explore your destination? In this section, I share some general experiences and thoughts on dog regulation, acceptance in restaurants and public transport.
General Attitude and Regulation
Once you start traveling with your dog, you will notice that people’s attitude toward dogs is different across the world, and that regulation usually follows the general attitude. In some countries dogs must be kept on leashes at all times, and in other countries they don’t. In some places certain types of dogs are more welcome than others. For instance, in France fighter-dogs are not as welcome as are other breeds.
Our Indonesian boat crew on Malta told us that their Muslim religion prohibits them from touching wet dogs. Although I don’t know if there is any link to Islam, I have noticed that often times the people who have been scared of my little Poodle have been from the Middle East.
All in all, there is not much to worry about when it comes to people’s general attitude towards dogs and regulation regarding dogs. You will be just fine if you do what you do at home, be respectful of people who are scared of dogs, pick up after your dog and keep your dog on a leash when in crowded areas.
As you will quickly learn when you start traveling with your dog, people around the world have very different attitudes towards dogs in restaurants. In some places restaurant staff will tell you in an arrogant tone of voice that restaurants are obviously no place for dogs. Yet in other parts of the world, there are dogs accompanying their owners in virtually every restaurant.
Pompe has been welcome in many restaurants around the world and has brought many smiles to other restaurant guests. As I’m sure you know as a dog owner, many people like dogs and like engaging with other people’s dogs. As a dog owner, I like to be able to bring these smiles to other people through my happy dog, and many smart restaurant owners see the value in that too.
In Pompe’s blog, you find several stories about fun little episodes that took place in restaurants and bars he visited. For example, you can read about the Kebab therapy Pompe got after a traumatic start to our trip to Malta.
In many places dogs are not allowed on public transport, especially larger dogs. So, budget for a few more taxi-rides than you otherwise would have, if you don’t want to walk.
Walking is a great way to see a place anyway, both for you and your dog. And as I’m sure every dog owner already knows, walking with your dog is a great way to meet people and engage in conversations with locals.
You can do so much with your dog, but you can do far from all activities. If you want to do things that your dog can’t come along for, such as museums, and you don’t want to leave him/her at the hotel for many hours, there are dog-sitters and dog hotels available in many places.
Using dog-sitter websites such as DogBuddy is a very convenient way to find a dog-sitter on the fly. If you are not already familiar with dog-sitting websites, we recommend you become so quickly. Such sites make it easy for people who need temporary dog-sitters, while at the same time providing a nice opportunity for people who want to enjoy a dog for a day and get some extra cash. These sites also have apps, so you can easily search a dog-sitter from your phone.
Before I got Pompe I took care of a few dogs while their owners were out doing activities they couldn’t bring their dogs along on. I thought it was lovely to have the company of different dogs and even get paid a little for it.
The dog-sitting apps provide some basic insurance and guarantees that payment is adequately paid through their system upon completion. In general, dog-sitting apps work much like Airbnb.
A Dog-hotel is another option. In each country-section on this website I will link to local dog-hotels that I know about. Dog-hotels often require a minimum stay of a few days and a meeting to get to know the dog prior to the actual stay. This is usually not necessary for dog-sitting found on the DogBuddy app.