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THE BARKSIDE OF TRAVEL: What to do with your dog while you’re on vacation 

Published on
11 Jan 2022
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THE BARKSIDE OF TRAVEL: What to do with your dog while you’re on vacation 


Photo via Unsplash by Laura Gaurdala 

While it may feel far away, summer is coming soon, and with it, family vacations, getaways, and adventures are in store. As much as we love our furry companions, there are times when leaving them at home can be a difficult decision. Fortunately, we have some options for you to ensure your dog remains safe, happy, and comfortable while you’re enjoying your vacation.

Before we delve into the various options, let’s clear the air: if bringing your dog on vacation is not an option, you can always consider services like doggy daycare or overnight stays. We have worked with some excellent fear-free boarding services, specifically for shy or anxious dogs. 

Doggy Daycare

Doggy daycare facilities offer a safe and stimulating environment for dogs during the day. Dogs get to socialize, exercise, and play under supervision, which can be beneficial, especially for energetic breeds or those prone to separation anxiety. When choosing a daycare, make sure you visit it beforehand and approve of the environment and treatment style of the dogs. Pay attention to how the facilitators interact with the dogs and how they speak, play with, and correct them. We always recommend fear-free daycares that focus on the mental health of the dogs as well as their physical needs.

Daily walks or organizing some extra time with their usual dog walker is another great way to make sure they feel taken care of and keep an element of their routine in place so they feel stable. 

Overnight Stays

Taking it one step further, overnight stays at a boarding facility or with a pet sitter might be more suitable for extended periods away from home. Boarding facilities typically offer accommodations, playtime, and sometimes even grooming services. On the other hand, a pet sitter can provide one-on-one attention in your absence, ensuring your dog feels secure and loved. When deciding between the two, consider your dog’s socialness and anxiety levels. Some energetic dogs prefer to be around other dogs and people even if they are strangers, whereas most shy or anxious dogs will feel better in an environment they are more comfortable in, like their own home. 

Regardless of your options, remember to select your sitter or facility well in advance and make reservations, especially during peak travel seasons. If you’re having trouble with your dog’s anxiety levels, take it slow and try introducing them to the facilitators early on. 

Other Options

If traditional pet care options aren’t feasible, consider alternatives like swapping homes with other pet owners, arranging playdates with neighbors, or seeing if a family or friend is open to watching them. 

Photo via Unsplash by Mel Elias 

Dog-Friendly Vacation Ideas

If these options don’t fit your dog’s needs due to separation anxiety or shyness, consider bringing your little one with you on your travels!

While many dogs enjoy traveling, some may find it stressful or overwhelming so there are a few factors to consider: Do they get car sick? Do they like strangers? Do they feel attached to a toy or blanket you can bring? If you think taking your dog along would be the most fun and least stressful option for your vacation, there are many dog-friendly options or places to go. 

The Beach

Beach vacations are perfect for dogs who love the water and wide-open spaces. Most lake beaches, camping beaches, and off-season beaches allow dogs on the sand. Double-check the guidelines beforehand and choose a dog-friendly beach that everyone can enjoy. 


Camping trips offer an excellent opportunity for outdoor adventures with your dog. Hiking, exploring, and picnicking in nature are all dog-friendly activities! Many state and national parks have dog-friendly campgrounds, allowing you to explore nature together. You can often rent cabins or a camper, or you can kick it old school with a tent set up. 

Dog-Friendly Cities

We recommend picking a town or area already curated for dogs! Cities like Austin, Seattle, Portland, Boise, San Francisco, and Brooklyn offer open arms to four-legged friends, including dog-friendly parks, restaurants, bars, and activities. Brooklyn has three dog bars and cafes where you can bring your little one to enjoy the fun! These cities tend to revolve around walking and taking your dog along with you, so you can find water bowls on the sidewalks, dog-friendly signs in shops, and cafes with outdoor seating. Research dog-friendly accommodations and amenities in advance to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip for you and your pet.

Photo via Unsplash by David Samaha 

How to Travel with Your Dog

Whether embarking on a road trip, flying, or traveling by train, preparation is key to a smooth journey with your dog and a wagging tail on arrival. From packing essentials to ensuring safety and comfort during transit, here’s what you need to know. 

Packing Essentials

Pack essentials such as vaccination records, extra food, a portable water bowl, treats, toys, bedding, medications, and a pet first aid kit when traveling with your dog. Additionally, ensure your dog is wearing a collar with identification tags and bring recent photos in case they get lost. If you’re driving, we recommend bringing their crate along or getting a collar seatbelt buckle adapter to keep them safe during the ride. 

Road Trips

For road trips, acclimate your dog to car rides gradually. We recommend getting them excited about the car a few weeks before. Have them hop in and out of the car a few times, get the treats rolling, and make it a fun and engaging game. Give them lots of entertainment during the drive, such as chew sticks, toys, Kongs, and other enrichment. 

Keep an eye on their anxiety levels and if they get car sick. Drooling, pacing, heavy breathing, and licking lips can all be signs of carsickness. Giving them an anti-nausea pill beforehand might be a suitable option for your dog—check in with your vet well before the trip to get a proper plan.  


If flying with your dog, research airline policies and requirements, including health certificates, carrier size restrictions, and pet accommodations. Try to choose flights with minimal layovers and be mindful of how long the flight is. If you’re tired and restless, your dog probably is too! 

Train Travel

Traveling by train can be a convenient option for pet owners, with many trains allowing dogs on board under specific conditions. Check with the train company for pet policies, crate requirements, and additional fees or restrictions. You will often need to purchase a pet ticket to ensure they get their seat and enough space. 

Depending on when you’re going on vacation, what kind of place you’re staying at, and what you plan on doing there, you have options regarding how your dog will spend their time too. Chances are, you’ve got a lot planned for your vacation. Remember how your dog fits into that itinerary. 

Whether your little guy comes with you on your trip or stays home, these steps and resources will ensure they’ll be in good hands. Good luck planning, and happy vacation!