Spring Break with Buster the Dog by Frankie Wallace |Published 03-19-2019
Ah, Spring Break, the time of year that students can let loose, enjoy themselves, and see the world in the process. If you’re a small dog owner, though, you may be wondering how to take care of your pooch and still sneak in some adventure during your time off.
Fortunately, there’s a solution that answers both problems at once: bringing your dog along with you for the fun.
Traveling with your animal isn’t an oddity these days. Many younger pet owners specifically prioritize having a smaller, travel-friendly pet, and an impressive 84% of Millennials claim that they travel with their pets.
In other words, if you bring Buster along with you on your trip, you very likely won’t be the only pet-happy student to do so.
If you do choose to bring your dog with you on vacation, though, you’re going to want to consider a few things to make sure that the trip is successful for human and canine alike.
It’s important to think about the journey as well as the destination as you plan your Spring Break adventure. As far as the travel itself goes, if you’re going to bring your dog on a trip, you need to consider some of the natural limitations that it will entail.
For instance, while you can use everything from a car to a train, or a plane, you’re going to want to choose your options carefully. Not every transportation service is pet-friendly, and even when they are they typically have restrictions and rules.
If you choose to take a car, you can travel in more comfort and have greater control over the circumstances, but it will naturally restrict how far you can get over the course of a single week.
Right now, amid the corona virus outbreak and travel restrictions, two of the more viable travel options are via road or train — if you must.
Amtrak allows certain pets on its carriages for a fee, and the service is limiting trips but has not shut them down completely.
In terms of traveling by air, according to the Centers for Disease Control, because of the way in which air is filtered on planes, as long as you avoid contact with sick passengers and wash your hands thoroughly and often, your risk of contracting COVID-19 is low.
Many airlines are also limiting flights and are cleaning planes in between each flight rather than just at the end of the day.
If you are planning to travel right now, be sure to plan your trip to avoid areas that are highly affected by the corona virus. The U.S.’s largest metropolitan areas have been the hardest hit, so road tripping through the Midwest might be the best option to avoid the contagion. The state of California is under a “shelter-in-place” order.
If you choose to drive, you‘re going to want to make your pup as comfortable as possible during those hours in the cramped car. You can ease their discomfort by doing something simple, like laying down blankets, or you can spoil your pup by purchasing a waterproof car carrier.
In order to make sure that everyone has what they need, it’s also good to pack a separate bag for Fido’s accouterments. Make sure to include basic travel items like:
If you bring everything your pup and your family need, they’ll feel more comfortable and be better able to enjoy the adventure every step of the way.
If your pup isn’t spot on with their training (which can easily happen while you’re busy with school) you may want to take some time to go over some behavioral training techniques and then review them with your dog. It’s essential that they understand commands, react positively to your voice, and are able to function when they’re experiencing a new place.
In addition to obedience training, it’s a good idea to prep your four-legged friend for the physical demands that lie ahead. Most trips require a bit of physical activity — and sometimes they involve a lot of it. Make sure to adequately condition your dog by taking them on long walks and getting into a more physical exercise routine before you hit the beaches this spring.
Finally, make sure to be ready for any legal scenarios you may find yourself involved in. For instance, review the consequences that happen if your dog bites someone. Have they bitten anyone before? If not, it’s important to be familiar with the “one bite rule” that exonerates you, the owner, from having to take action the first time your dog bites someone if you didn’t know your dog was violent beforehand.
Along with prepping for possible scenarios like these, it’s important to gather up all of your dog’s documentation. Proof of rabies shots, vaccines, ownership documentation, and so on should all be safely stored in your bag just in case they’re required at any point along your journey.
In the current climate, another consequence to consider is obviously your health — and that of others. Is traveling worth the risk right now? Depending on where you go, you might not encounter any situation in which you’d contact corona virus. However, if you are over 60 or have a preexisting condition, you are more vulnerable to contagion and should carefully weigh the risks of corona virus against the benefits of travel.
At the end of the day, if you feel too overwhelmed to head out on a vacation during the coronavirus crisis, a good, old fashioned staycation is the perfect alternative. You can still use all the supplies you prepped for your trip, and you can binge-watch your favorite shows as well as teach your pupper some new tricks!
Whatever you choose, all of these preparations aren’t meant to dissuade you from taking your pooch along with you on your Spring Break adventures. On the contrary, they’re meant to prepare you for any curveballs you may experience along the way. If you can go into your trip informed and ready for the worst, both you and your pup will be better able to enjoy every second of the action.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. If her spirit animal could be anything, it would be a beagle--inquisitive, and always searching for food. Other articles by this author include: