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Hitting the Road with Your Poodle

In This Chapter

You, the proud parent, will want your Poodle with you at all times, which is great (unless you’re in the shower or at work). But, as I show you in this chapter, you need to know some things before you go traveling with your best buddy by land, air, or sea — like when it’s better for everyone if your Poodle stays home!

Checking Out Your Traveling Options

The easiest way to travel with your Poodle is by car, but that doesn’t mean you can just grab your dog and hit the road. You need to plan ahead and pack for your dog as well as yourself. Air travel is another way to go with your canine pal, but this takes more advance planning, and you need to think about whether your dog will travel as cargo or, if you have a Toy or a Miniature Poodle, whether she’ll travel in the cabin with you. I go over the details of car and air travel with your Poodle in the following sections.

By car

Traveling by car gives you the most freedom with your plans and with your Poodle, but you still need to prepare if you want the trip to be trouble-free. If you need to go from point A to point B in a short amount of time, traveling with a dog isn’t much different than traveling with a child. In fact, it may be easier, because you don’t need to play games with her, and your dog won’t ask, “Are we there yet?”
Most dogs enjoy riding in the car, but if you take your dog for a ride only when it’s time for a visit with the vet, she may be reluctant to get in the car. Can you blame her? You wouldn’t look forward to a ride, either, if the trip always ended at the doctor’s office. See Chapter Instilling Good Manners in Your Poodle for info on getting your Poodle used to car rides.
On a car trip, heed the following advice:

For maximum safety of dogs and humans, dogs shouldn’t ride loose in any vehicle. A sturdy crate is the safest place for a dog in a vehicle. A crate keeps the dog from being thrown around in case of an accident, and it offers some protection if the car is seriously damaged. Emergency response workers can safely remove a dog in a crate from a wrecked vehicle, but they may be unwilling to handle a loose, injured, and frightened one.

If your car doesn’t have room for a crate, the next best protection is a harness specifically designed for canine car safety. Be sure that it’s correctly sized for your Poodle and correctly and snugly fastened to the car’s seat belt system. (See Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You for more about crates and harnesses.)


Never, ever leave your dog in a hot car unattended. Even with the windows open, a car in the sun can easily reach an unsafe interior temperature for your dog, and dogs have a harder time keeping cool than people do. Even if you park in the shade, you must remember that the shade will move. A nice, cool spot at 10 a.m. can be in direct sun by noon, and even 75 degree weather can overheat your car.

You need to stop every three or four hours to let her stretch her legs and take a potty break. A puppy may need more frequent stops, as may an older dog. Base the time between stops on your home schedule. If your old girl needs to go out every two hours, stop your car that often, too.

If you have your dog in a crate with a water dish, replenish the water at these stops. If you have her riding on the seat in a harness, offer her a drink when you stop. Whether on the seat or in a crate, make sure she isn’t receiving direct sunlight.

If you’re visiting a state or national park, your dog may be allowed, but make sure you know the rules before taking your dog with you on your adventures. Most parks insist that your dog remain on a lead, and you still need to pick up after your dog. And, although the idea of hiking with your dog seems appealing, make sure your dog is up to the hike. Dogs, like people, need to be in condition for long hikes. Carry water for both you and your pet, and pay attention to whether your dog is getting too warm or too tired; if your dog is panting heavily, slowing down, or wanting to sit or lie down, she has had enough. You should also check your dog’s feet occasionally to make sure they aren’t cut and bruised from the rocks. Use a flea-and-tick preventative, too; ticks are carriers of several serious diseases (see Chapter Considering Common Poodle Conditions for more information).

By air

If you’re planning a trip that requires travel by plane, you need to make arrangements at least a month in advance if you want your dog to fly with you. If you have a Toy Poodle, most airlines allow you to take her in the cabin with you in a special carrier. You may even be able to take a Miniature in the cabin, but with the seating space getting smaller and smaller in airlines these days, that may not be possible. Have a Standard? Don’t even think about it! Your Standard will have to ride in the baggage compartment.
The following sections outline the necessary preparations you need to make to carry your Poodle into the cabin with you or to trust the airliner to stow your precious cargo in baggage.


No matter where your Poodle rides, you can’t just show up at the airport with your crate and a smile. Some airlines limit the number of animals allowed on a flight, and most airlines refuse to fly a dog in baggage if the temperature at any stop will be over 85 or under 45 degrees Fahrenheit. All airlines are different, and the rules change frequently, so make sure you get all the information you need well before your planned flight. Also, get a confirmed reservation for your Poodle and keep it with your own ticket while traveling.


Never tranquilize your Poodle before a flight. A tranquilizer can depress breathing. If the airline delays your flight and your dog gets overheated, she may not be able to pant properly to cool off.

Cabin traveling

You have less preparation if you can bring your Poodle into the cabin with you, but you still need to carry a small dish and a bottle of water, as well as a packet of food in case of delays. Also, you should carry a lead and collar for a quick walk before and after the flight and for the security clearance point. Security personnel will ask you to take your dog out of her carrier, and you want to make sure she’s on a lead so she can’t escape.
If you can find a grassy area for your walk, you’re in luck. Otherwise, try to find a quiet corner, and, whether on grass or concrete, always pick up after your dog. Keep a few plastic bags in your pocket; a couple of paper towels and a bottle of water may also be helpful when cleaning up.

Ahoy! Enjoying the water safely with your Poodle

Poodles and water go together like, well, Poodles and water. The Poodle is a water dog, and that water-loving gene is still a part of today’s Poodle. Just because your Poodle loves water, though, doesn’t mean she can go without supervision and guidance to safely enjoy it. Introduce your Poodle to water in a safe environment. Start in a quiet, shallow body of water and have her swim back and forth between two people until she becomes comfortable. If you have a swimming pool with a shallow end, great. If not, stay in the water with your dog and gently support her until she starts to swim. Make sure she can get out of the pool on her own. If the pool has a shallow end with steps, show her where the steps are. If it has a ladder, find out if she can climb it. Some dogs can, but others can’t. If your dog can’t, install a ramp with a non-skid surface.
Here are some more tips and ways to avoid rocking the boat:

– Until your dog builds up some stamina, don’t overdo the water play. Throw a stick for her to retrieve 6 or 7 times — not 20.

– If your water playground is the ocean, take the height of the waves into account when you play, and be aware of any areas where undertow may grab your dog.

– Don’t let your Poodle drink salt water. The ocean may be a great place to play, but drinking salt water can make your dog violently ill.

– Never leave your Poodle unattended in the pool area, and make sure she can’t get into the pool when you’re not around. Even a water-loving dog who can swim can drown.

– Just as it is with children, the best pool protection for your Poodle is a sturdy fence. Even a good swimmer can get tired while searching for the way out of the pool and drown.

– If your Poodle joins you on board for boating fun, make sure she has her own life jacket. Retrieving sticks from the beach or taking a refreshing dip isn’t the same as falling off a boat far from shore. Your dog can get tired and disoriented if she ends up in deep water with no landmarks, so make sure she has a life jacket, just like the rest of the family.

When your Poodle sits in the cabin with you, you need a special carrier that fits under your seat. Get your dog used to the carrier before the trip. A crate-trained dog should adjust quickly, but don’t wait until the day of the flight to find out. Give your dog special treats in the carrier prior to the flight and praise her for being calm. You can also close her in the carrier and carry her so she’s used to the feeling of being picked up and carried.
If you have that rare dog that barks at absolutely everything strange, even when she’s in a carrier, you should consider another method of travel. Either check your dog as cargo, or make your trip by car.


Some airlines allow dogs only in the cargo section of the plane (never in the cabin), so before you purchase that special carrier, make sure that the airline you choose permits pets in the cabin.

Baggage traveling

If your Poodle has to travel in the baggage compartment (a common practice for Miniatures and Standards), your two main concerns are the crate you need to pack her in and the boarding process. You can control the crate, so start with that. Here are some things to consider when preparing your pooch for baggage travel:

– You need an airline-approved crate. Contact your airline’s customer service to get the details. If your airline allows, you should consider a plastic or wooden crate because metal crates tend to hold more heat.

– Consider covering the bottom of the crate with absorbent materials. Stress and the unfamiliar can mean an accident for even the most well housetrained pet. Shredded newspaper topped with a piece of synthetic fleece is a good choice, or you can utilize the special pads used in housetraining (see Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for details). Many brands have an absorbent core that helps to keep your Poodle clean and dry should she have an accident. However, if your dog tends to chew on bedding, especially when she’s stressed, leave out the absorbent pad.


Don’t feed your Poodle for at least 12 hours before the flight. This doesn’t guarantee a clean crate at the end of the journey, but it helps.

– Tape your name, address, and phone number to the top of the crate. If you have a different number and address for your destination, include that information as well. Cover the label with clear tape to protect it from rain.

– Tape an envelope to the crate that contains your Poodle’s health records, including a copy of her rabies certificate. Cover the envelope with clear tape.

– Freeze water in a bowl that you can fasten to the inside of the crate; this prevents the water from spilling when the airline workers load the crate into the plane, and it provides small amounts of water as the ice melts. You may also want to tape a bag of your dog’s food to the crate.

– Fasten a bungee cord over the door to keep it closed in case the crate is dropped or bumped.

The second factor to consider for baggage travel is the boarding process. Make sure you know ahead of time where to take your Poodle for boarding and where you’ll pick her up at your destination.
If you don’t see airline personnel loading your dog at the proper time, ask the gate agent to call the ramp and make sure the dog is on the plane. At your destination, if you don’t get your dog in a reasonable amount of time, ask someone what’s going on. Don’t wait until your plane takes off again. You want your dog with you, not three states away!


Try to plan a nonstop flight to limit the chance that your dog will be lost en route.

Taking Care of Other Trip Details

Traveling with your dog is like traveling with another person when it comes to arrangements. You need to pack for your dog, check that she has the right identification, and make sure that she’s welcome wherever you’re staying, as I explain in the following sections.

Packing it in


Whether you travel by air or by car, by land or by sea, your Poodle needs her own luggage. But what should you include? The following list gives you a rundown of materials to pack:

Make sure you have any medications your dog may need while you’re away from home. Also think about whether you’ll need a flea-and-tick preventative at your destination. If you’re flying, pack everything in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost or delayed.

Take a small first-aid kit. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — just some antibiotic cream, gauze pads, and baby aspirin. (See Chapter Staying Prepared with First-Aid Basics for more details about first-aid kits.)

Pack enough food for the entire trip, even if you think your Poodle’s brand of kibble should be available everywhere. The food may be available, but stores discontinue items all the time, and you don’t want to spend your vacation visiting supermarkets in search of your brand of dog food. Heck, even if a store has your brand, the packaging may be wrong. If you have a Toy Poodle, for example, and the only size bag a store carries is 40 pounds, you’ll wish you’d packed your own.

Carry water for your Poodle. A change in water may cause digestive upset, which isn’t a wonderful addition to a vacation. If you’re taking a short trip, you can carry all you need, but for a longer trip, you can try topping off the water jug at each stop, gradually replacing the water from home with “trip water.” Another alternative is to buy and carry bottled water.

Pack a set of food and water dishes or a stack of paper plates. You can put the dog’s food on the plate and then throw it away, eliminating the need to wash dishes.

Take a spare blanket and some extra towels, as well as a roll of paper towels in case of an accident.

Carry plastic bags for picking up at rest stops. If you prefer a scoop, buy a plastic beach shovel. It’s easy to pack and carry, and you can pop it into a plastic bag until you can clean it.

If your dog has a favorite toy, take it along. Travel is stressful, and being able to curl up with a teddy bear can help the stress. This advice may not be a bad idea for the people on the trip as well!

Carry a crate. If your dog is traveling in a crate, you’re all set. If she rides in the car in a harness, consider a lightweight, folding crate for your motel room. The crate prevents damage to the room and keeps your dog from escaping if the room door is opened.

If you plan to stay in a motel room, carry a small piece of plastic sheeting to put under the crate and dishes to catch spills. And, if you let your dog jump up on the bed (like me!), consider carrying a couple of sheets to cover the beds. Motels don’t launder bedspreads after every guest’s stay, and the plastic sheets keep the spreads clear of Poodle paw prints. If you don’t want to carry your own sheet, ask housekeeping for one.

And if you need to wipe off muddy toes, use your own towels, not the motel’s! Carry paper towels so you can throw them away; baby wipes also are a good way to clean Poodle paws.

Carrying the proper ID

Your Poodle may already have a tattoo to serve as identification or a microchip for tracking purposes, but you should consider a collar tag as well for travel. I’m a huge fan of microchips, but the contact number on file with your microchip registry is likely to be your home number, which won’t help you when you’re far away from home. Be sure to keep the microchip registry updated on all your contact information, and include your cell phone number as one of the alternate numbers. Take a copy of the microchip number and the registry’s number with the dog’s rabies certificate in case you should need them while traveling.
Consider making a special tag that features your name, your dog’s name, and the phone number of your destination. You can also list your cell phone number on the tag. A cell phone listing means you’ll always be available, no matter where you are geographically.
No matter what kind of a tag you choose, make sure you fasten it securely to a regular buckle collar that remains on your dog all the time. (Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You has more details on securing ID for your Poodle.)

Staying at a Poodle-friendly place

Traveling with a dog can be fun, but not every destination thinks that lodging a pet is fun. You need to accept the fact that not every place accepts dogs and plan where you’ll stay each night. Some places charge a fee of anywhere from $5 to $50 for keeping a dog in the room, and it may or may not be refundable at checkout. Some places may not advertise that they take dogs, but they may be willing to accept crated dogs or dogs that have been obedience trained. When in doubt, ask! And ask ahead of time. In the pouring rain at midnight isn’t when you want to have to find a motel that accepts dogs. Have the policy and fees confirmed in writing when you make your reservation, and carry the confirmation with you.


The AAA guide, Traveling with Your Pet, 8th Edition, lists thousands of places that do accept dogs, so that publication is a good place to start. The guide can’t list every Poodle-friendly place, though, so if you don’t see your favorite hotel, give the establishment a call to find out about its policy. Even if the guide lists the hotel, policies can change, so you should always call ahead.


No matter where you stay, pop your Poodle into a crate if you go out and leave her behind. Even the best-trained dog may decide to gnaw on a chair leg or eat a bit of bedspread if you leave her alone in strange place. Turn the television or radio on low to help soothe your dog and to mask any strange noises that come from outside.

With your dog in a crate, you don’t have to worry about her escaping if a housekeeper opens the door, and the housekeeper can work without worrying about your dog. Put a note on the door so the housekeeper knows that the dog is crated. If you think that the presence of a stranger may upset your dog, put the “do not disturb” sign on your door. You can make your own bed, and, if you want fresh towels, make arrangements to put your dirty towels outside the door in exchange for clean ones.

Leaving Your Poodle at Home

Sometimes, it just isn’t convenient to take your dog with you when you travel. You may have to travel on business, go on your honeymoon, or visit someone who has no room for a dog. You may want to enjoy a vacation without the responsibility of caring for a dog.
In the following sections, I give you two options on what to do when you decide to leave your Poodle at home: boarding kennels and pet sitters. Choose what sounds best to you and best fits your situation, and enjoy a drink with an umbrella for me!

Boarding your Poodle

A boarding kennel isn’t a jail. Yes, it has fences and locks, but these tools are there to keep your dog safe and out of trouble. You can think of a boarding kennel as summer camp for your dog. But, just so you feel better, I devote the following pages to preparing you and your Poodle for the boarding experience and to making your Poodle as comfortable as possible.
A good boarding kennel keeps your dog safe and secure. Kennel operators may know dogs better than a pet sitter, and they may be better able to tell whether your dog is under the weather. They may offer grooming services so your pal comes home smelling sweet and looking great. A kennel also is usually cheaper than a pet sitter, unless you’re electing to have a deluxe suite for your dog.
The disadvantages of a kennel are that your dog won’t get as much individual attention, and she’ll be in a strange place. Most dogs adjust well to kennels, but some do seem to get homesick.


If you leave your dog in a kennel, consider tagging your dog with the kennel phone number. Good boarding kennels are very safe and secure, but accidents can happen. Your home telephone number works well if your Poodle is staying at home with a pet sitter (see the later section “Picking a pet sitter” for more details).

Observing and selecting a kennel

The best way to find the right kennel for your poodle is to visit the boarding kennels in your area before you need one. The day you drop off your dog is not the time to discover dirty conditions or broken fences. A reputable kennel operator will welcome your visit. If you aren’t allowed to inspect the kennel, don’t board there. All the fences and gates should be in good repair, with no jagged bits of wire or metal sticking out and no holes. The pens also should be clean. You may smell a doggy odor in the kennel, but it shouldn’t smell like urine or feces. Each dog should have fresh water in clean buckets or bowls, and you should see no dirty food dishes.
If you live in a large urban area, your city may have kennels with individual rooms for the dogs, innerspring mattresses, and piped-in music. These amenities, of course, cost much more than the traditional kennel with cement-floored dog runs, but your Poodle will love them!


Here are a few important considerations as you select a kennel:

– Many kennels have large play areas for groups of dogs. Ask prospective kennels how they determine if the dogs are friendly and how they supervise the areas. If you don’t want your dog to play with others, tell the operator before you leave your dog.

– If your Poodle is on medication, ask if the kennels are willing to treat her. Some kennels charge extra for this service.

– Find out what shots the kennels require. Most kennels require proof of rabies vaccination, as well as distemper, parvovirus, and bordetella (or “kennel cough” — an airborne virus that can travel rapidly through a kennel). If you don’t vaccinate yearly but use a titer test (a blood test that shows the level of protection against a specific disease), ask whether this report is acceptable. See Chapter Taking Basic Care of Your Poodle’s Health for more about vaccinations.

– Most kennel operators ask for the name and number of your veterinarian. If they don’t ask, make sure you give it to them. Find out how they treat medical emergencies and whether they have veterinarians they use, should yours be unavailable. If the veterinarian of the kennel you choose is closer than yours, you may want to give permission to use its veterinarian if time is a factor.

– Find out if the kennel has some kind of grooming facility. The kennel may be able to give your Poodle a bath before you pick her up. If the operator doesn’t feel comfortable bathing and drying a Poodle, you may be able to request that a kennel operator take your Poodle to her own groomer just before pickup. It’s also convenient to have the kennel take care of small tasks like nail clipping if you feel comfortable with this.

After you select a kennel, it’s time to reserve a spot for your Poodle. The best time to make kennel reservations depends on the time of year you plan to board. Many kennels are booked for Christmas by mid-November. Summer is always busy, and reservations will require a call three to four weeks ahead. But if you’re boarding your dog in February, the day before is probably time enough!

Making your pooch’s stay as comfortable as possible

The biggest mental hurdle associated with boarding kennels seems to be that people think their dogs will pine away without them. Yes, some dogs do get a bit depressed, but 99 percent of dogs do just fine. They adjust quickly and, if not as happy as at home, are able to settle in comfortably.
Try the following strategies to make your Poodle as comfortable as possible at the kennel:

– Even if you don’t have a trip planned in the immediate future, consider boarding your dog for a night or two. The younger a dog is, the better she will adapt to boarding, and this will get her used to being away from home. Because you’ll be picking her up soon, you let her know that when she’s at the kennel, you haven’t abandoned her. She also gets to know the kennel staff, so when she goes for a longer stay, she already has friends.

– You may want to have your Poodle’s crate or bed put into the run. If you vote for a bed, use an old blanket or some towels. A dog who wouldn’t think of tasting her bed at home may decide to shred it at the kennel.

Picking a pet sitter

Pet sitters are becoming more popular as alternatives to kennels — especially if your Poodle is anxious in strange places or is older and may need more individual attention than a kennel can give.
One advantage to hiring a pet sitter is that your Poodle stays in her own home and yard. She has nothing new to get used to, except the sitter. Having a pet sitter come to your home may also keep your home safer during your absence. There will be activity around the home, the lights will stay on, and the pet sitter may even bring in your mail and water your plants! Your Poodle also will get more individual attention during pet-sitter visits.
The downside of a pet sitter is the cost. A 30-minute visit runs between $15 and $20. A live-in sitter can cost $65 a day. The good news is that these fees cover multiple pets, but ask about the policy first.


Your sitter has a great responsibility, so you want to make sure the person is responsible (and affordable). But how can you find the good help you seek? One great place to find a pet sitter is on the Web. Check out these sites:

– Pet Sitters International (

– National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (

– Pet Sitters Associates, LLC (

All three sites offer lists of member pet sitters in your area — a professional sitter will be bonded and have insurance. You may be able to find pet sitters listed in your phone book, or you may have a local friend who has used a pet sitter.
Ideally, the sitter you’re interested in should come to your home once or twice to meet your dog. He or she should also visit at least once when you’re not home but before you go on vacation. You can notice a difference between the ways a dog greets a stranger when you’re present and how she greets that same person when you’re absent. Make sure your dog and the sitter are comfortable with each other.


You may think that a neighbor is a good choice, but you shouldn’t choose a neighbor just because of the “neighbor” status. The teenager next door may love dogs, but is she responsible? Can you trust her to remember your dog’s needs? A neighbor may be cheaper, but cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Consider your sitter’s experience, and don’t be afraid to ask for references.

And now that I’ve breached the cost issue, we can keep it going. The cost of a pet sitter varies, depending on what you expect. A sitter who drops by three times a day to let your dog out and feed her costs less than a sitter who stays to play or who has to administer medication.


Let your veterinarian know if you’re hiring a pet sitter and that you authorize the caregiver to seek medical care if needed. Make arrangements to pay for any bills incurred so that no question arises over who pays the bill.

by Susan M.Ewing

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