What Are the Best Strategies for Traveling with a Large Dog?

Traveling can be an exciting adventure, and it’s even more fun when you can bring your beloved pet along. But if your furry friend happens to be a large breed, there can be some unique challenges. In this guide, we will explore the best strategies for traveling with a large dog. Get ready to jot down some tips, whether you’re planning a road trip, a flight, or a simple weekend getaway.

Preparing your Dog for the Trip

Before you start your journey, it’s crucial to prepare your dog for what lies ahead. Just like humans, dogs can get anxious or excited about the unknown. The key to successful pet travel lies in preparation and conditioning.

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One of the best ways to get your dog ready to travel is to gradually introduce them to the idea. Take your pet on short drives around the neighborhood, gradually increasing the length of the rides. This will help them to acclimate to the idea of being in a car for an extended period.

Ensure your pet is comfortable and safe during these trips by confining them to a crate or harness. This will not only keep them safe but also help them feel secure. And make sure you bring along their favorite blanket or toy to give them a sense of familiarity.

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It’s also essential to make sure your dog is healthy before traveling. A visit to the vet is a must. Discuss your travel plans with your vet and get all the necessary vaccinations and medications.

Making Travel by Car Comfortable

Traveling with a large dog by car can be a great experience if you make sure your pet is comfortable. With ample space and familiar surroundings, dogs often enjoy car travel.

Firstly, be sure your vehicle is large enough to accommodate your pet and their crate. Large dog breeds, like the ones recognized by the AKC, need plenty of space to stretch out and relax.

It’s also essential to make regular pit stops during your journey. Your dog will need to take bathroom breaks, stretch their legs, and drink some water. Make sure to bring along a leash for these stops so they can safely explore the area.

While on the road, keep the car temperature cool, and play soft music to create a calming environment. Also, avoid feeding your dog immediately before the trip to prevent motion sickness.

Air Travel with Large Dogs

Flying with a large dog requires some extra preparation. Not all airlines accommodate large pets in the cabin, so you’ll likely need to check your dog into the cargo hold.

Before booking your flight, research different airlines to find out their pet policies. Some airlines are more pet-friendly than others. For instance, some airlines won’t accept brachycephalic breeds, like Bulldogs, due to their breathing issues.

When you do fly, make sure your dog’s crate is airline-approved. These crates are designed to keep pets safe during flights. They should be well-ventilated, secure, and large enough for your dog to sit, stand, and turn around comfortably.

Before the flight, exercise your dog thoroughly to burn off excess energy. This can help them to relax during the journey. Also, give them a light meal a few hours before the flight, and make sure they have access to water during the trip.

Preparing Dogs for Accommodation Stays

Whether you’re staying at a hotel, a vacation rental, or with friends or family, it’s important to prepare your dog for the new environment. Check-in advance to make sure your accommodation is pet-friendly.

Bring familiar items from home, like your dog’s bed, blanket, or favorite toys. These can provide comfort and help your pet adjust to the new environment.

Try to stick to your dog’s regular routine as much as possible. Feed and walk them at their usual times. This can help to minimize their stress and anxiety.

Essential Travel Gear for Large Dogs

When traveling with a large dog, it’s important to pack the right gear. This includes a sturdy leash, a comfortable harness, and an appropriately-sized crate.

Bring your pet’s regular food and portable bowls for meals on the go. Don’t forget the poop bags for clean-ups, especially in public spaces.

It’s also a good idea to carry a pet first aid kit with essential items like bandages, tweezers, and a pet-safe antiseptic.

Finally, don’t forget to bring your pet’s health records, especially if you’re traveling across state lines or internationally. These documents are often required by airlines and accommodations.

Navigating the world of travel with a large dog may seem daunting at first, but with proper preparation and the right gear, it can be a rewarding experience for both of you. Happy travels!

Ensuring Your Large Dog’s Emotional Support

The well-being of your large dog should always be a priority when traveling. Emotional support plays a key role in how they adapt to new environments. Your presence can make all the difference in easing any anxiety they may feel.

Different dogs react differently to travel. Some may exhibit signs of stress, such as excessive panting, drooling, or whining. Always pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and give them the emotional support they need. This could be as simple as petting them or offering soothing words.

It’s also beneficial to keep your dog engaged and distracted during the journey. Consider bringing chew toys or puzzle feeders to keep them occupied. This can help reduce stress and prevent boredom.

Remember that patience is essential when traveling with large dogs. It might take them some time to adjust, especially if it’s their first time. Always consider their comfort and emotional well-being, and never rush them into anything they seem uncomfortable with.

Handling Unexpected Situations during the Trip

Traveling with a large dog can come with its own set of unexpected situations. Being prepared for these instances can go a long way in ensuring a smooth journey.

If your dog gets car sick, have a plan in place. Travel-sized clean-up kits can be very useful. These usually include wipes, gloves, plastic bags, and odor neutralizer sprays. If your dog is prone to car sickness, consult your vet for possible medication options.

Should your dog escape their crate or harness, ensure they have proper identification. This could be a collar with a tag that contains your contact information or a microchip. A microchip can be scanned by a vet or animal control officer, providing them with your contact information.

Sometimes, despite all your preparation, your big dog might just not be ready for a long road trip or a flight. In such cases, consider hiring a pet sitter or leaving them with friends or family. It’s important to consider what’s best for your pet’s comfort and safety.


Traveling with a large dog may seem like a daunting task. However, with proper preparation, you can ensure your dog’s comfort and safety throughout the journey. From choosing pet-friendly accommodations to packing the right gear, every detail matters. Whether you’re flying with your big furry friend or embarking on a road trip, remember to be patient and provide emotional support. Always be ready to handle unexpected situations and make sure your pet has proper identification. With all these practices in place, you and your large dog are all set for a memorable adventure together. Happy travels!