How To Travel With Your Dog, Depending On How Big Your Pup Is

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Owning a dog is about more than just cuddles, cute photos together, and some fun playtime: it's also a lot of responsibility. This is almost never more clear when it comes time for you to take a little vacation. When you're traveling, you have two options: find someone to take care of your dog while you're away, or take your dog along for the ride. For some people, finding a dog-sitter is relatively simple, and that's the route they choose to go. Others prefer to bring their dog along on trips, which is fine... it's just also complicated and can get frustrating, depending on how you're traveling and what size dog you have. So how can you travel with your dog without losing your mind? It starts with the size of the pet.

Whether you're traveling by car, airplane, or train, having your dog alongside you can be a little bit tricky if you want to make sure they're both safe and comfortable. Going on a little road trip tends to be the easiest thing just because you have the most control over the situation: you're calling the shots, and you're keeping your dog in a more comfortable environment. But that's not to say it doesn't come with its own set of complications as well, because it does (we'll get to those). Traveling by airplane or train tends to be more difficult because you are then following someone else's rules, and you have to abide by specific regulations. Plus, it's not always quite as comfy for your dog.

But going into any kind of traveling situation becomes a little easier when you have some tricks up your sleeve. Here are some tips on how to travel with your dog, depending on their size:

Traveling With Small Dogs

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Traveling with a small dog? You'll want to make sure they're kept close to you at all times so they don't wander off, especially in a crowded airport or train station. The advantage of having a small dog is that you can easily put them in a carrier to keep them safe and enclosed. If you're flying with the dog, look into pet-friendly airlines and find out if it's possible to bring the dog into the cabin with you (this is always the better option). You might be able to, although you may have to pay a fee. In any case, make sure you have a leash, a collar, and a carrier on hand, as those are necessary.

It's similar advice for a train. Make sure the train is pet-friendly, keep your dog in a carrier, and have a leash and a collar as well. This is the best way to keep your doggo safe!

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that a road trip with a small dog means they can wander free in your car. This is a bad idea for a few reasons. One, they can get into things they shouldn't while you're distracted driving. Two, they could get seriously hurt if you get into a car accident. Three, they could end up distracting you when they shouldn't! Again, keep them in their carrier to be on the safe side.

Traveling With Medium Sized Dogs

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Is your pup right in the middle between small and large? If so, how you travel using public transportation may vary depending on their actual size. If you're flying a pet-friendly airline, check their regulations on weight— usually only small dogs are allowed in the cabin with you unless they are certified trained or service dogs. If your doggo is 30-40 pounds, they likely won't be able to come into the cabin and you would have to put them in the cargo hold, which is where larger pets go. Cargo holds can be dangerous for dogs, so take that into consideration. Still, make sure they have a leash, collar, and a carrier.

Again, if you're taking a road trip, you want to follow the basic rules: if your dog can fit in a carrier or a cage in your car, that's where they should be so that they're protected and safe in the event that something happens. Keep treats nearby, give them water, and stop for frequent breaks.

For Large Dogs

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Traveling with a larger dog can be difficult just because, well, they're big. They aren't as easily contained in a crate or carrier and they aren't as easy to tote around as a little dog or even a medium-sized dog. Unless your dog is a service dog, they aren't going to be allowed in the cabin of a plane, so prepare to have them put in the cargo hold. Again, do your research, as cabin holds are not always safe for dogs or recommended for them. You should also check the weight and size regulations on the airline even for the cargo hold, as some planes won't allow large dogs at all.

For a train, be sure to find a pet-friendly rail line that will allow you to have your dog by your side on the train. You can't exactly hide these guys!

Putting a large dog in a carrier or a crate in your car may not be an option if nothing fits in your backseat. If that's the case, you'll want to take over safety precautions. There are actually seat belts made for dogs so that they can be secure in the backseat. You should keep them in a harness for a little more control and have a leash right nearby. Make sure to stop fairly often to allow them to use the bathroom and stretch their legs.