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Cross-country traveling with your dog

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Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:45 am

Let’s face it. Dogs ARE a part of your family. No matter how you want to look at it, we are less stressed and more comfortable when our pets are with us. With this said, over 70 percent of pet owners now regularly travel with their pets.

I just returned home from a 4,900 mile road trip with my two dogs. We traveled from Arizona all the way to northern Wisconsin. We experienced plenty of waysides, farmers corn fields, and hotels. It’s nice to take trips alone without your pets, but to experience a new destination with your furry kids can be extremely memorable. Below are a few tips to make sure your dogs have as much fun on your next trip as you do:

1. Car safety. Dogs belong in the back seat. Your dog must learn that they come second BEHIND you, the “pack leader.” By keeping your dog behind you in the car, you are reinforcing the pack order that human is first and dog is second. Therefore, keep Fido in the back seat. There are doggie seat belts available from your local pet store or use a “stay” command to keep your dog from coming into the front seats. Only lower the rear windows enough so the dog’s head can stick out and then lock the power window controls to restrict the windows from accidently lowering or raising any further. NEVER have a dog in the rear of a pick-up truck unleashed.

2. Dog-friendly hotels. Now a days, almost all hotels are pet friendly. They reserve specific rooms just for pets. With this said, there may be areas of the rooms that have been previously soiled. So, when you first enter the room, be sure your dog is leashed for the first few minutes to avoid the possibility of marking or pottying. If you plan on staying more than one night, I recommend that you negotiate only paying one night’s pet fee. I always leave the room cleaner than I found it, so most hotels will generally work with you and only charge you for one pet fee. Also, try not to leave your pet alone in the room.

3. Ticks and fleas. Be aware of ticks and fleas when you are traveling to regions of the country known for these critters. Also, note the time of year. Fall can be the worst for ticks, especially in areas with an abundance of trees. Consider treating your dog with Frontline tick repellent,, before leaving. Daily tick checks will also prevent a tick from bedding and bloating on your dog. Your local vet may also have some additional tick/flea treatments for your dog before your departure.

So, Alaska here I come! Just be sure to have your doggie cross-country “to do” list complete. Better preparation before you embark on your journey will ensure that it will be easier to handle any emergencies with your dog on the road if they occur. The joy of new adventures is what keeps us all going and what a better way to experience them than with your dog.

• Mark Siebel is owner of DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training, LLC. He has trained more than 400 Valley dogs, speaks regularly at local schools about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to youths wanting to learn more about dogs. Siebel is a member of the Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association and Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona. Contact him at (602) 318-0122 or

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