When you’re planning a vacation with lots of adventures and good times ahead, it’s natural to want to bring your dog along. After all, taking a trip is always better when shared with a friend, right?

Traveling with a dog can be lots of fun or one heartache after another, depending on many factors. The both of you could have the best time ever. On the other hand, your dog could be stressed or unhappy, spoiling the holiday for both of you.

So how do you know whether to take your dog on your travels or not?

Let’s look at some essential elements for your decision – you may end up packing pet toys and treats in your suitcase, or your next move might be to look for boarding options for your friend.

Doggie considerations

Consider your dog’s personality

Although you might be tempted to ask around for friendly advice, no one knows your dog better than you do.

If your dog has lots of energy and enjoys a good romp in the fields, or if your dog is curious to explore new places, both with and without grass, then your dog will probably enjoy exploring with you.

If, however, your dog is anxious, is easily frightened, or prefers the creature comforts of home, then you’ll want to do what’s best for your dog. Even if it means being without them on your trip – at the end of the day, you want your dog to be happy no matter where they are.

Think about your dog’s age

If your dog is relatively young and full of pep, then your dog is likely to be more adaptable and happier to accompany you everywhere you go. Exploring cobblestone streets, hiking up to the top of the mountain, running along the beach – if your dog is up for all of that, then you probably have an excellent travel companion.

Is your dog well-trained?

If your dog knows not to jump up at strangers or to stay to heel when you’re out walking, then you’ll most likely have a good trip. You wouldn’t want to be asked to leave a restaurant because your dog gets overexcited every time a waiter or waitress walks by with delicious-smelling plates of food!

Having said that, you may be happy forgoing restaurants and taking food out with you on the go. That way, if your dog can’t resist snatching a treat from your lunch, it’s only you that misses out!

Other considerations

Safety of your destination

How safe is it for your dog? A deserted, dog-friendly beach may be perfect for your pet – but large outdoor events with lots of people milling around may be an accident waiting to happen. It’s all too easy for someone in a crowd to step on sensitive paws inadvertently, so choosing to book a pet hotel might be the kinder option.

Tropical destinations with long car journeys aren’t the safest, either. Dogs can overheat very quickly when left in hot cars. If you’re going somewhere with extreme temperatures – hot or cold – it may be safer for your dog to stay at home.

Look at how you’d travel

Does the journey require a plane ride? If so, check with the airline if they accept dogs. Some breeds like pugs are at a health risk on airplanes (and many airlines won’t accept them) because their respiratory tracts are sensitive to changes in cabin pressure.

Does your dog usually do well in the car? There’s no point taking a road trip that lasts for hours if your dog gets distressed in the car. Look at alternative means of transport – some dogs enjoy a train ride (if they can lie quietly by their owner’s side).

Check where you’d stay at your destination

It isn’t enough these days to choose a venue that says they’re ‘dog friendly’. Being dog friendly can mean anything from just about tolerated to VIP treatment with dog beds and toys. Contact your chosen accommodation before booking to make sure your dog will be welcomed.

Are you willing to have a backup plan?

When traveling with an animal, you can expect the unexpected, so flexibility is critical when traveling with a pet.

River rafting or a day at the beach might be one of your dream ways to spend the day, and your dog might love the water, but it pays to prepare alternative plans. You may want to bring a chair and something to read in case you get to the boat and your dog becomes less than enthusiastic – no one likes to be forced into something they don’t want to do, and that includes your friend.

Are you willing to put your pet first?

Our dogs depend on us for so many things – and it’s up to us to take care of them properly. For example, providing shade when needed, bringing water everywhere we go, and knowing when dogs are best left at home rather than taking them on every holiday outing.

So here’s the final question. You could be staying in a hotel, a boat, or a tent: is your dog safe to be there for a short time without you? And is it fair on him or her?

Hopefully, you now know whether your dog is best left at home or traveling with you.