Planning to visit the grand-paw-rents for the holidays? Taking your pup to visit friends or family during the holiday season can be a lot of fun for everyone, including your dog. The following tips and recommendations will help ensure a great experience for everyone.
Pack the Right Gear
Bring everything that you think you might need to keep your pup comfortable and out of trouble. New places can be both fun and stressful for some dogs.
Pack your pet’s food in a Kibble Carrier for easy storage and serve in a Kurgo travel bowl. To avoid overpacking, measure out your pet’s food beforehand and add an extra 1-2 days’ worth in case your plans change.
If bringing your pet’s giant bed from home is too much of a hassle, use a portable travel bed, like Kurgo’s new TaGo bed. The bed comes with its own carrying case and is super lightweight for easy transport. The pad detaches from the frame and can be used as a simple mat as well.
Pro Tip: The TaGo bed comes with a bottle opener, so you can be the hero of your friend group when someone needs to open their beer.
Sheet or blanket
If your dog sleeps in the bed with you, your family members will appreciate it if you bring a sheet or blanket to cover the quilt or comforter. It makes clean-up a breeze; just toss the sheet in the wash when you get home.
If your pup tends to mark new territory, keep him on leash attached to you for the first few hours (or day) in a new house until you can trust him. This also prevents your dog from inadvertently knocking over any low decorations that are within tail height. Pack pet cleaning supplies to clean up any messes.
Since you will likely be busy with family and friends during your visit, your pup may become bored, jealous, or act out in ways he doesn’t at home. For dogs with a tendency to be destructive, pack toys to keep them entertained while you chat with others or are in the kitchen prepping for the big holiday feast.
Pro tip: Feed your dog meals in food dispensing toys. This will keep him focused and engaged even when you need to have your attention elsewhere.
Car Travel Safety
If you plan on traveling by car on a longer road trip to see your family, consider a car restraint system to keep your pet safe in the event of an accident. Roads can be icy or snow-covered during the winter months and crashes are more common in these conditions.
Leave fresh water available for your pet at all times. The Kurgo Splash-Free Wander Dog Water Bowl keeps water contained even on twisty roads or after sudden stops.
Use a bench seat cover to keep your car clean and protect the seats. These can easily be transferred to different cars, so if a family member is driving somewhere for the day, you can keep their car free from unwanted fur and potential scratches. They’ll be grateful for the consideration!
Keeping Everyone Comfortable
Make sure to communicate your intentions of bringing your dog with you for the holidays, keeping in mind that not everyone may feel comfortable with pets in their home. Some people may also have allergies or are afraid of dogs.
Additionally, ask your hosts what preferences they may have. You may allow your dog on the furniture at home, but maybe your parents aren’t as thrilled about a couch coated in fur.
If your dog isn’t great with kids or new people, explain this right off the bat and teach others how to interact with your dog to avoid conflicts.
Pro Tip: Consider muzzle training your dog if she is overly anxious around strangers. You can also ask a family member to help work with getting your dog comfortable in the new environment. This is a great activity for older kids as they love seeing a dog show off her tricks. Don’t forget the treats!
Emergencies and Hazards
Before you arrive, or shortly afterward, find the name and phone number for a local veterinary clinic as well as the contact information for the closest emergency hospital.
Keep in mind that family members who do not have dogs themselves may not be aware of holiday hazards like tinsel and garland, seasonal plants, and food left on tables at holiday parties.
Clearly state any rules regarding unwanted behaviors (for both your pup and humans). As an example, prevent unwanted table scrap feeding by explaining why you don’t permit the behavior.
Jen Sotolongo is a writer and photographer and runs Long Haul Trekkers, a blog about independent, responsible travel with a pet. Over the past 1.5 years, she and her partner have taken their dog, Sora on a cycle tour spanning across Europe and South America, proving that adventures can include your dog, no matter where in the world they may be.