Traveling With a Dog: Top Tips by Woofz Experts

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Tetiana Zhudyk

Most people think of traveling with their furry companions as an ongoing challenge, and indeed, it can become one if you plan everything the day before you leave.

However, armed with the knowledge of what is required for your journey and with preparation in advance, you can make this experience smooth and stress-free.

What to do before traveling with your dog

Vet check-up

Wherever you’re traveling, the first thing you should do is a vet check-up.

Experiencing a pet health issue away from home can be incredibly stressful, especially without access to your regular vet. To prevent this, it’s advisable to schedule a comprehensive health check for your pet before traveling outside your local area.

Ensure your pet is up to date on vaccines and preventive medications for fleas and worms. Additionally, research and identify the nearest vet, including the “out of hours” veterinary center, at your travel destination.

Taking these precautions will help you address any unforeseen health concerns more efficiently during your trip.


For dogs not accustomed to travel, various sedative options, including both over-the-counter and prescription medications, can be effective in helping them cope with the experience.

These sedatives will put your dog (and you by knowing they’re calm!) in a more relaxed state, alleviating the stress associated with travel.

However, it's crucial to use sedatives only under the guidance of a vet, as the appropriate dosage and type of sedative depend on the individual dog’s needs and health conditions.

Importantly, sedatives should never replace proper training and behavior modification techniques. Ideally, desensitizing a dog to travel through behavioral methods should be prioritized alongside the use of medications.

When using sedatives, follow the vet’s instructions, administering the medication in advance to allow sufficient time for it to take effect, with timing varying depending on the specific sedative used.

Check transport travel requirements

It’s vital to check the transport travel requirements, as each mode of transportation has a distinct set of rules. For instance, if you’re flying, airlines may have specific crate dimensions, health documentation, and regulations regarding sedatives.

Similarly, if you’re traveling by car, certain safety harnesses or carriers might be recommended.

Take the time to thoroughly research and understand the unique specifications of the chosen mode of transport to ensure a comfortable and secure journey for your beloved pet.

Check country/state travel requirements

Check the entry requirements of the country/state you’re heading to. For example, your dog may need a microchip, a passport with a valid rabies vaccination (the list may vary depending on the destination country), information about the quarantine period, and tapeworm treatment (that also varies from country to country).

Also, check if you need a vet certificate issued by a state vet institution and a Rabies Titre Test.

Quarantine helps prevent the spread of diseases from one location to another. While some places don’t mandate pet quarantine, others, like Hawaii, Guam, Australia, or non-EU zones, may require it. Check information before your journey; having the necessary documents can sometimes exempt your pet from quarantine.

Get used to a crate/carrier

We advise you to train your dog to stay calm while alone and/or in an enclosed space long before the actual trip happens (“Stay/Wait” command, “Rest” command, pre-traveling “rehearsals,” etc.).

P.S. Do not try to cut corners by buying a cheap plastic carry box; it’s important to get good quality material with a metallic door.

Practical tips

However, if your pooch still needs some training, here’s what you can do:

  • First, feed your pet inside the crate or carrier when at home
  • Then, start closing the crate/carrier door, leaving your dog there alone (with treats)
  • You should allow your dog to leave only after they have calmed down
  • Dogs should leave the crate/carrier only upon your command
  • Reward your dog when they’re relaxed and following your instructions
  • Try to create the maximum amount of positive associations with this experience

You can find out more about crate training in the Woofz app.

Prepare everything in advance

  • Water bowl (or dog drinkers if you can’t stop on the way)

  • Food bowl for dry food only (in case it’s a long-distance journey)

  • Treats (to reinforce calm behavior at the beginning)

  • Toys (or a smart bone to distract your pooch)

  • A warm blanket if it’s cold (sometimes it also helps to fall asleep faster)

  • A cooling blanket if it’s too hot

  • A pre-fold diaper (in case of vomiting)

  • First aid kit: antiseptic, bandage, band-aids, sedatives if needed (check the list with your vet)

  • Dog ID Tag

  • Documents

Traveling by Car

If you’re planning to travel by car, the first thing you should do is convince your pet that the car is a safe and even a pleasant place to be. Build positive memories, use treats and toys, and stay calm and attentive.

And don’t forget to check all the existing rules and regulations regarding dog transportation in your country or state!

How to prepare?

Prepare the travel space. Provide support for your dog's paws and limit their movements, regardless of the mode of transport.

Before the trip, ensure your dog exercises to release excess energy, and avoid feeding them four hours before departure (however, this is not a universal rule, and all depends on how your dog feels during the journey).

Prepare essential accessories. A comfortable crate or carrier, a protective seat cover or hammock, a barrier for larger dogs in the luggage compartment, or a harness attached to the seat belt for added safety.

Check the law in the country you will be driving to. For example, in the UK, it is illegal to not have the dog secured by a seatbelt or crate.

Safety is paramount during the journey – avoid placing your dog next to the driver or letting them stick their head out of the window.

During your travel

Stay calm if your pet becomes nervous, using toys or treats for distraction. Drive slowly during the initial journey until your dog feels at ease.

Pay attention to your dog's reaction when starting the car; if they're anxious, reassure them, establishing trust and making the journey a positive adventure!

Regular breaks every three hours for water and walks are essential, especially for puppies and smaller dogs. Also, make sure to keep the car temperature comfortable and prevent motion sickness.

Traveling by Plane

Traveling by plane can be very challenging for your pet (both for their physical and mental states). To help your pooch cope with such stress, you need to prepare well and follow certain guidelines.

How to prepare?

  • Conduct a full health check-up: discuss the trip with your vet, gather medications for a first aid kit, etc.

  • Be mindful that some airlines may not allow sedatives if prescribed by your vet.

  • Refrain from feeding your dog at least 6 hours before the flight and provide only bottled water.

  • Choose an appropriate crate or carrier for your pet.

  • Inform the airline in advance that you will be traveling with your pet.

Airline travel policies

Travel policies and requirements will depend on the individual airline, the country you’re flying from (or a state), and the destination country (or state). Some US airlines, for example, may even ask you for a CGC certificate to board the plane.

What should you check?

  • Documents
  • Health and vaccination requirements
  • Fees
  • Requirements for cabin and cargo traveling

Traveling by Train

Traveling by train is another option you can take advantage of. Likewise, your dog needs to stay calm inside the crate or carrier (or else be always kept on the leash), and you have to collect all the necessary documents before travel.

Keep in mind that not all train companies allow dogs, some companies apply fees, and travel requirements may vary from country to country.

Wrap Up

To sum up, traveling with your dog can be fun if you plan ahead and consider your furry friend's needs. Pick the right transportation, check the requirements, and ensure your dog is comfortable. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way in making the journey enjoyable for both you and your loyal companion.

Happy travels!

Written by

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Tetiana Zhudyk

Woofz Content Manager with a deep passion for dogs and a strong affinity for positive reinforcement training methods.

Reviewed by

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Annie-Mae Levy

Experienced dog trainer with Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Behavior. Diplomaed dog nutritionist. CFBA Accredited Canine Behaviorist