Should You Bring Your Dog When You Travel?

There are many advantages to owning a dog, like improved happiness and health. But many people see dogs as an obvious impediment to travel plans. Dog owners stay home more often, and may feel like travel is out of reach. Other pets can be easier to leave behind.

The truth is, there are extra costs involved, whether you bring your pup along or hire a pet-sitter. That’s one of the reasons many people put off pet ownership until they’re financially stable and settled. However, you shouldn’t feel limited just because you own a dog. Travel can be good for both of you, even if it involves time apart.

Traveling With a Pet

You may have heard horror stories of airlines mishandling dogs in cargo bays. Because airlines tend to treat pets more like luggage than living creatures, cargo holds can indeed be dangerous. They may be too hot or too cold, and airlines don’t always take appropriate precautions to ensure your pet’s safety. And airline insurance compensation for injury or death of a pet is deeply inadequate.

So if you’re considering taking your pet along on a flight, do your research. Find out what size and breed restrictions are placed on dogs traveling in the cabin, and how the airline handles pets in cargo holds. If you’re traveling in extreme temperatures, remember that dogs may also be held on the tarmac for extended periods and can face danger there.

In the US, anyone with a mental or physical disability can bring a service animal or emotional support animal into the flight cabin (per the Amended Air Carrier Access Act), so you should know your rights and ask for an exception if you have a disability. You may need a medical letter of recommendation for verification.

Better yet, hit the road. Dogs love car trips, and even a long stretch can be covered by land (or sea–some boats, like ferries, frequently permit leashed dogs). If you’re hiking, backpacking, or planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, your dog will be thrilled to come along.

Pet travel guides can help you find affordable pet-friendly accommodation, activities, restaurants, and more. You can also hire a pet-sitter to provide doggy daycare at your destination, if you have obligations where your pup won’t be permitted to tag along.

Finding a Caregiver

Many dog owners prefer not to leave their pets in kennels, which can be crowded and offer little one-on-one stimulation. Plus, kennels often turn away certain breeds, or temperamental dogs–and can be terrifying for dogs with separation anxiety. What other options are you left with?

Every dog owner should have one or more trusted caregivers they can call for help. Even if you don’t travel often, it’s best to have a plan in place with someone who knows your dog and your home. You can find vetted, experienced pet-sitters through Rover.com, which also insures the stay and processes payments.

Be aware of any unique needs your dog has, and look for sitters who are experienced, adaptable, and friendly. When you do your Meet & Greet, observe them carefully with your pet. Does your dog seem comfortable? Can they handle your puppy’s high-energy antics, or nourish your older dog’s mellow spirit? Your sitter should be able to communicate clearly with you and with your dog.

Staying with a pet-sitter can often feel like a mini-vacation, and if you find the right fit, your pup will soon have a home-away-from-home.

Whether you bring your dog on your next trip or find an amazing Rover sitter, consider changing it up next time. Who says your dog won’t enjoy a road trip to your family reunion? And if you’ve always been inseparable from your canine companion, why not look for a caregiver for your next short trip instead? Travel can give you both a wonderful change of pace. And whatever you choose this time around, you can always experiment in the future.

Written by Nat Smith, Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.