Tips for Traveling With Your Puppy for the First Time


A dog packed in a suitcase

There comes a time in every pet parents life where they question taking their dog with them on a trip or to board them. Neither response is wrong. It all depends on what your plans are, how much time you have, and your dog’s demeanor. We typically always travel with our dogs. But we didn’t start out that way. Initially, we were nervous. We just weren’t sure how to make sure our pup had a great travel experience. We’ve learned a lot since that time. Here are our tips for traveling with your puppy for the first time.

Car, Plane or Train?

When you travel with your pup, there are some unique things you’ll want to do depending on your mode of transportation. However, regardless if you are traveling by plane, train, or automobile, there are a few universal things you’ll need before you and your pup step out the door. These include:

  • Vet Check: For first-time puppy travelers, it is wise to get a quick vet check-up. This is required for most travel outside of the country.
  • License and Microchip Updates: When you travel with your pup, make sure that you have updated all paperwork associated with identification. This is particularly important for dogs that are adopted or have transferred ownership.
  • Travel Location Requirements: Make sure you check all domesticated animal requirements for the location you will take your pup. While some destinations don’t have unique demands, others have quarantine requirements. You’ll want to know before you go!

Tips for Traveling With Your Puppy for the First Time

  • Travel Carrier: If your travel is by car, you’ll want to make sure that you select a sturdy carrier. Ideally, you’ll want to find one that is approved by the Center for Pet Safety, includes a seat belt connector and a halter attachment. But, maybe you are flying? Remember, not all airlines have the same acceptable carrier requirements including size. You’ll definitely want to check your airline’s website for the required dimension before you purchase a travel carrier. In addition, you must know the measurements of your dog. Length, height, and turn ratio. If possible, take your dog with you to shop as this will give you an opportunity to see if your dog can completely turn around, lay down, and sit comfortably. This typically isn’t a worry for a puppy, but if you plan on retaining the carrier into your dog’s adulthood, make sure to plan accordingly. Oh, and don’t forget to buy a carrier that has durable padding to help your pup feel more comfortable.

Also, once you have selected the perfect carrier for your precious pup, make sure that you start training right away. The goal is to help your puppy feel safe in his new travel carrier. Start by placing your pup's favorite treat, toy or blanket inside the carrier to entice your pup, eventually getting to the point where your puppy goes into the carrier by his own choosing. After a few sessions, your puppy will begin to see the carrier as a place of contentment.

  • Documentation and Packing: As we mentioned earlier, it is vital to have all the required documentation necessary for traveling with your dogs. Depending on where you are traveling, and the length of your stay, you’ll want to include your copies of your pup’s medical records, pet health insurance documents, paperwork for your pup’s microchips, vaccinations and license number. Also, when traveling with your pup don’t try new foods or treats. Pack enough of these items so that your puppy will have the exact same nutritional goodies that he eats normally at home, including all medications. Lastly, don't forget to pack all of your pup’s favorites items, including toys, blankets, brushes and combs, water and food bowls, and sleeping bed.

  • Special Items for Flying With Your Pup:
    • Prepare for motion sickness on flight date: Motion sickness is somewhat common in puppies and young dogs. Some of the common signs of motion sickness include repeated yawning, agitation and uneasiness, vomiting, and excessive drooling. Make sure to tell your vet that your puppy is flying and see if s/he recommends a motion sickness medication. Also, it’s a good idea to purchase a pet calming agent, like Bach’s Rescue Remedy if necessary. Sometimes a little proactive measure will help in the long run.
    • Landing: Once your plane lands, don’t hesitate to take your puppy straight outside or to the nearest potty area. This is super important, particularly if you plan on traveling with your pup on a somewhat regular basis. Teaching your puppy where to go potty after the plane lands will help your pup understand that things will be okay. Make sure to praise your puppy give him a little reward with a tasty dog treat. Also, remember to clean up your dog's carrier if necessary.

So, don’t stay at home and wish you could travel. If you have the opportunity, we suggest you go explore the world with your puppy. Yes, it may be a little nerve-wracking the first time… But, with a little pre-work and practice, you and your pup will be regular travel buddies in no time flat. Bon voyage!


Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca Sanchez lives in Seattle with her husband and three dogs and is a published author, and nationally recognized leader in the pet industry. Known as The Pet Lifestyle Guru™ Rebecca firmly believes “we need animals as much as they need us!” Rebecca specializes in researching and writing about holistic dog health and nutrition, and develops DIY recipes designed to enhance a pup's well-being.


Leave a comment