the secret to successful pet travel

The Secret to Successful Pet Travel

By now, our two pups have been on more trains, planes, and automobiles than I can count. They’re seasoned travelers, with more countries and cities under their belts than the average American. I take pride in their travels, but not because they’re notches on a belt; I genuinely love my dogs and I have an unquenchable passion for travel. Combining the two makes me utterly happy.

the secret to successful pet travel

When dog owners look for tips on traveling with their pup, they’ll find an abundance of information with a simple Google search. I’ve compiled plenty of lists on what makes for a smooth and happy trip with your dog, from tips for a great roadtrip to what to do on flight day.

But my #1 tip, the one thing that will without a doubt help any pet traveler, in any situation, whether traveling near or far, to a big city or the open country, is always the same.

the secret to successful pet travel

It’s always to remain calm.

It’s been scientifically proven that dogs can recognize human emotions. This won’t be news to dog owners; your dog can definitely sense when you’re happy or sad. They’re quick to wag a tail when you smile at them, or come over for a cuddle when you’re in tears. Visual and oral cues, like reading body language and tone of voice, alert them to how you’re feeling.

Dogs communicate this way with both humans and each other. They won’t understand you when you tell them you’ve had a horrible day, but they’ll read it through your energy and body. But why does this matter so much when traveling?

the secret to successful pet travel

Going away can be difficult; when traveling, there is a degree of flexibility and spontaneity that you’ll need. Some people only have to think about going on vacation to start feeling stressed. There’s planning to do and schedules to sort out. Plus, things like illness, bad weather, or unexpected delays can always creep up. These situations are stressful on their own, but become even more so with a dog in tow.

As the Canine Guru puts it, “the energy that you project affects the result that you get.” If you project an anxious vibe, your dog will pick up on it and feel anxious themselves. No one wants to travel with a nervous or anxious dog. It’s not fun for you, them, or the people around you. As the leader of your pack, you must remain positive and calm.

Luckily, our trips have (almost always) gone smoothly. I try to remain aware of the vibes I’m giving off and to remain calm, even in unexpected situations. In order for my pack of two to feel safe, I project a strong and reassuring energy.  I’ve been able to get to this point, with plenty of practice. As always, start with short trips and then work your way up!

What’s the #1 thing that has helped you when traveling with your dog? Let us know in the comments below!


This is the #1 thing that has helped us when traveling with our two dogs, near or far, locally or internationally, big city or country.

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  1. This is absolutely great advice–even for people who don’t travel. Most of our travel is on our sailboat and when waves kick up, I know the best thing I can do to help Honey feel comfortable with the motion is to still my mind and my body so she has a calm place to relax in the middle of the chaos.

    1. Glad a fellow traveler feels the same! It really is a necessity, and you’re right, it’s important even if you don’t travel.

  2. Nice article! I agree, it’s important to stay calm for our pets and dogs. I like to pack in stages to make it easier for me and my pup (pre-departure, grab-and go dog bag, dog suitcase, and dog car travel essentials). Do you use this method too? Keep up the great blogging work! Terri

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