How to Travel with a Large Dog and a Family

Tips on How to Travel with a Large Dog as a Family

Those fun vacations are no longer just for human beings. Your four-legged friend can also enjoy a relaxing holiday. The problem is not enjoying your vacation, but arriving at your destination.

The hardest decision you may ever have to make is leaving your dog when you go for a vacation. Your dog is part of the family. You never want to leave any member of the family. However, it is difficult to travel with your 70 pound Vizsla or your 80-pound Weimaraner. When moving, you want your dog to be comfortable so it is a smart idea to plan, especially if you have a big family dog. After years of practice and excellent planning, traveling will be a breeze. Here are a few tips that you might consider to make things easier for you.

Exercises and More Exercises

Behavior and psychology experts suggest that it is essential to prepare your dog appropriately before traveling. A great way to achieve this is to ensure that your dog has had enough exercises before going. The more activities your dog gets before the trip, the less bored and calmer it will be. It will also be less destructive. Getting the dog in the car, making sure that you have packed everything will hectic and tiresome for you. The walk will be helpful for both you and your dog.  It will make sure that you are relaxed during the car ride.

If your dog is an excessive active dog like a spaniel or a retriever dog, you may have to wear it out the day before as well to keep its energy levels in check. Exercises provide a way for you to spend time with your dog and bond.

Your dog loves spending time with you and will appreciate anytime it gets to be with you. A few snuggles added to the long walks will make your dog feel appreciated. If you have a pet sitter, you may want to introduce them to your dog early. They may take the dog for a walk before the trip so that your dog feels comfortable around them during your vacation.

Plan Ahead

Traveling with your dog requires you to plan weeks or even months ahead. Always check your pet’s vaccination records. Make sure that they are up-to-date. Take a picture of your pet in case it gets lost while you are on vacation. You also need to get your dog’s collar and make sure it is appropriately labeled.

If you are traveling by air, you need to book space for your pet as you book your airline tickets. Most airlines have limits on the pets that are allowed on the flight. In most cases, they only allow one pet per flight. On the same note, make sure that the hotels you will be staying in allow pets. You also need to ensure that there are dog-friendly play areas where your dog can have fun.

You may also need to organize with your vet to have a slight sedative if your dog does not like traveling. While you should never withhold water from your dog, avoid feeding it before your flight. Bach flower remedies are added to the water for both you and your dog to help keep you calm during long trips.

Make sure that you have packed your pet’s leash when you stop. If you are driving, make frequent stops, get out of the car and walk around. This will reduce traveling anxieties that may make your dog unruly. To reduce your dog’s meal intake, provide them with smaller meals and increasing the number of times you feed them. Smaller portions are essential during long journeys.

Carry the pate’s waste bags which make it easier for you to clean after your pet. You can make a temporary litter box using a plastic bin. Pack a crate and a lot of toys that your pet can nibble on during the vacation. Here’s a list of things you should pack:

  • A crate with a bed
  • Foods and treats
  • Water and dishes
  • Toys and chews
  • Health certificates for flying
  • Medicines
  • Identification tags, microchips or tattoos
  • A dog seat
  • Your dog’s photo
  • Clean up supplies
  • The contacts of your vet
  • Extra towels
  • A dog brush
  • Tweezers and nail clippers
  • Spray deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Stain Remover

What may be ‘pet-friendly’ for smaller dogs may not be pet-friendly for your 150-pound mastiff. Unlike people with smaller dogs, you have to call ahead and confirm that these areas do not have weight limitations, additional fees or limits on where your dog should accompany you.

Safety Fast- Always

Getting your pet to the back seat is just part of the journey. If you go for a long trip, you need to make the trip safer for your dog and smoother for you. Here are a few things you need to do to ensure that the trip is enjoyable.

Keep your Dog Away from The Window

While it is fun to watch your dog enjoy the breeze with their ears and lips flapping, the window is unsafe for numerous reasons. To begin with, there may be cars or obstacles that come too close to your vehicle that may sideswipe your dog.

Secondly, there are numerous cases of dogs falling out of the window in highways. Your dog is naturally curious, and it will want to chase cars or obstacles on the road. If it is not restrained, it may quickly get into an accident that will not be pleasant.

For the love of your dog, keep its paws and shoulders in the vehicle at all times. If you feel like it needs little fresh air, keep the driver’s, and passenger windows open.

Never let the Dog Sit at the Driver’s Laps

This is probably a point that does not need an explanation. However, it is something that happens all the time. Of course, you know that texting while driving is dangerous but having living things moving between your laps is even more dangerous than you can imagine.

There are chances that your dog may get scared and wiggle on your laps or even press on to the floor. There will be an obstacle between you and the brakes. Your big dog will make it impossible for you to steer the wheel correctly and slam the brakes. Therefore, never let your dog sit on your lap while your drive, ever.

Keep the Sound up Front

The last thing you want to make your dog uncomfortable. Dogs have better hearing than humans. Your blaring music may therefore not be as fun to your dog as it is to you. Ensure that only the speakers near you are playing the music. This will keep your dog from having to endure during the long journey.

Make Frequent Stops

You may feel fine, and maybe you may stay in the car for three straight hours but your dog cannot. Your dog can easily be dehydrated or may have his bladder full.  Do not rely on your body’s timing. Stop every two or so hours to give your dog some water and empty out its bladder. You will also freshen up and break the driving boredom

Temperature Control

Your road trip may involve moving through different climatic conditions. For your large family dog, you need to be aware of the temperature changes so that you keep your dog comfortable.

When it is chilly, it is easy just to put on your coat and completely forget that your dog may also be feeling cold. Sometimes, you will have to leave your dog in the car. During these times, pump up the air conditioning for a few minutes before turning the engine off, or crack the windows.

If your canine is short haired, it will feel cold faster than its furrier counterparts.

During the hot seasons, you want to keep your dog hydrated. You will, therefore, have to stop more frequently to give your dog water. Here are signs that your dog may be too hot:

  • Heavy panting
  • Pale gums
  • Increased drooling
  • Rapid breathing

If the sun is getting through the windows of your car, change the position of your dog to areas that are away from the heat. In some extreme cases, soak some cloth in water and put the cloth on his paws, head, neck, and armpits. If it is hot, never leave your dog in the car. Your car heats up faster even with their windows open.

Sometimes, you may go through areas that are cold. Here are a few things you can do to keep your dog warm.

  • Trembling
  • Sleeping
  • Curling up
  • Lethargy
  • Cold ears
  • Hiding
  • Whimpering
  • Restlessness
  • Dry skin

If your dog is too cold, you can warm it quickly by heating up your car and covering it with a blanket or a winter coat. The jacket should be snugly and should allow it to move freely. You may also stop the car and give a massage to your dog. While you are at it, get moving; go for a short walk close by which will increase circulation and keep the body warmer. You have to be careful not to keep the body to warm.

Be Consistent

When it comes to consistency, your dog is like a child. It has a biologically imprinted routine that it likes following. While you are on your vacation, feed your dog and exercises it at regular times. If you are traveling for a long distance, there are apps that you can download. These apps will tell you where there are parks. You can stop at those places briefly and take your dog for that walk. Bring a Frisbee so you can also play games while you travel.

You may also make the outdoors fun by bathing it often. If you are doing some outdoor activities, you have to wash the dog frequently to keep away ticks. When your dog is out and about, it may pick up on numerous things from the surroundings.  You may also need to buy booties if your four-legged friend has soft paws.

Get your Pet its Vacation

Just because you are going with your pet on vacation does not mean that it will have fun. You need to create a unique experience for your dog. While the beach will be magical for you, your dog will not enjoy just sitting around. You, therefore, need to get it something fun. Therefore, carry a crate with a comfortable mattress. Let it have a five-star experience while it sleeps. Play with it while you are at the beach. Throwing a freebie will keep your dog active and allow it to have fun.

If it is scorching, you may also want to get it in the water. Like you, your furry friend loves being in the water. Let it swim and have fun with you. Of course, you have to carefully watch it to keep it safe. If you want to have fun with your dog, make sure that you plan a vacation near dog parks. This way, it can go out and meet other dogs. These are a few activities you may engage in with your dog during your trip:

  • Hiking
  • Create a tracking challenge
  • Go to dog camps
  • Provide games
  • Ensure there is an adequate training opportunity


When it comes down to it, dogs are probably the most adoptable pets. The change of pace will be enjoyable for most of them too.

Whether you are going for a short vacation or a long one, planning is paramount. You have to make sure that you have put in place all the measures needed to keep your pet safe and ensure that it is well cared for.