By Janet McCafee

Dogs love to travel!  Most dogs get excited when you grab the car keys, hoping to join you on the trip.  Dogs are natural nomads, traveling in packs in the wild.  They are curious creatures who love seeing new places and meeting new friends.  Traveling with pets has become easier now that more hotels and restaurants with outdoor seating happily accommodate them.  Many Coachella Valley residents are now traveling to cooler locations, and their dogs often accompany them.  Wise planning and safety precautions make the experience more enjoyable.

It is good business sense to cater to pet owners.  Some restaurants even have “doggie” menus with special cooked items for canines.  Your well behaved leashed dog is welcome at many local retailers including Home Depot, Lowes, Apple, The Pottery Barn, and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Many major hotel chains including Marriott’s Residence Inn, Motel 6 and Best Western allow pets.  Campgrounds are full of family pets.  Doggie day care programs abound 

One pet focused resort, Canine Camp Getaway in New York, offers scent-detection workshops for the dogs, decorating homemade dog biscuit classes for the humans, and sharing celebratory beverages at “Yappy Hour”.  Hotel pools pose a possible risk to dogs. While many dogs swim and know how to get themselves out, other breeds with heavy coats are not able to sustain themselves in pool water. Life preservers for dogs are an extra precaution.



A host of new products ensure the comfort and safety of your dog during car trips.  Cool pads inside his carrier cool down the temperature during hot weather.  Socks or little shoes keep his feet from burning on the hot pavement.  Tiny sunglasses with UV protection guard against sun damage to the eyes and block dust & debris.  “Cool down” harnesses, vests containing cooling crystals, help on hot days.  Car harnesses protect your dog if you have to stop suddenly. A collar with your phone number and a recent photograph of your dog are essential in case he gets lost.

Pictured here is Lilly, an adorable rescue Bichon mix, who recently traveled by car from her home in Alameda, California, to her vacation home in La Quinta.  Lilly enjoyed a lunch stop at the Harris Ranch outdoor snack shop and a trip to Nordstrom, another dog friendly business.  Of course, unlike Lilly in this fun photograph, dogs should not be left alone in cars.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CLOSED VEHICLE ON A HOT OR SUNNY DAY, even with the windows cracked.  The temperature inside can soar in a matter of minutes.  Unattended animals inside cars are also at risk of being stolen.  It takes less than a minute for someone to break a window and steal your pet.  If you are traveling alone with your dog and can’t find a responsible person to watch him, no one will object if you take him into a public restroom. Drive through restaurants or a picnic under a tree can replace indoor restaurant meal stops. 


A health certificate from your veterinarian is required for airline travel.  Bring copies of shot records including rabies.  Check in advance with your airline as pet requirements can differ. If you have a small dog under your airline’s weight limit, it is recommended you take them in a carrier in the passenger cabin where they travel under your seat. Some groups advise against shipping your pet in the cargo area due to instances of loss, injury and even death.  If you must ship an animal below cabin, book a direct flight. Your trusted veterinarian can decide if sedation will make the flight easier. 


Amtrak does not allow pets other than service animals.  Smaller regional rail companies are more hospitable, but call first to find out about crating and other restrictions.  Some transit companies don’t allow animals during crowded rush hours.  Short leashes are recommended.

A wonderful resource, “U.S and Canada Dog Travel Guide,” can be obtained by going online to  Grab the car keys, hit the road, and double your fun with Fido onboard.