As people start to treat their pets like part of the family, dogs are being included in vacation plans.

Jeff and Roni LaFrance of Desert Dogs Unleashed and Jillian Blake of Oregon Trail Veterinary Clinic encourage pet owners to plan ahead to ensure excursions with canine companions are stress-free.

In addition, the trio stressed the importance of being responsible pet owners. Bringing a large supply of pet waste bags is an important first step.

“It’s your dog and it’s your responsibility to pick up after them. And if there’s someone else’s, pick up that, too,” said Jeff LaFrance.

The LaFrances said it doesn’t take much time to bend over and pick up dog waste while waiting for your dog to do his business. Doing so, they said, goes a long ways in reducing potential complaints.

“Being irresponsible can ruin it for a lot of people,” Blake said. “It takes one time for someone to step in doggie-doo and complains to management.”

Other pre-trip planning should include making sure your dog is comfortable in a vehicle. Some dogs equate going for a ride with a visit to the veterinarian. To reduce travel jitters, pet parents can condition their pooch by showing that a ride is a pleasant experience.

People can start by merely sitting in the car with their dog. The next time, have the engine running, and then maybe just drive around the block, Roni LaFrance said.

Another option, Blake and the LaFrances said, is to crate them while in the vehicle. They stressed, however, only do this if the dog is already used to crates.

“Don’t try to crate train your dog on the trip,” Roni LaFrance said. “They won’t like it and it will be a hassle. You wouldn’t take your 2-year-old on a trip and potty-train them at the same time — it just doesn’t work.”

Blake said crates can provide a refuge when on vacation.

“The great thing about a crate is it’s their safe place,” she said. “It’s their sanctuary and they are happy to go into their crate or kennel in a new place.”

Home away from home

More motels and hotels are offering pet-friendly accommodations. Blake said when making reservations or exploring options, people should inquire about their pet policy.

“I never recommend trying to sneak your animal in,” Blake said. “The risk of getting caught isn’t worth it.”

From Motel 6 to Marriott, be sure to sniff around — the fees can vary with a deposit, per night charges and a maximum amount per stay. Some policies include restrictions on the size and weight of the dog, while others limit the number of pets allowed per room. Also, dogs may be restricted from certain areas of the motel.

When packing for your pooch, be sure to bring treats and dog food from home. The possible stress of traveling can be exacerbated by introducing new foods.

“I suggest putting it in a container, not a bag,” Roni LaFrance said. “If they’re food-friendly, (pets) will help themselves and get into a bag.”

Also, bring items that comfort them — their favorite blanket and toys from home. Roni LaFrance stressed that going on a trip isn’t the time to bring out a new toy — they need something familiar.

As for possible new experiences you may confront while traveling — such as elevators or different types of flooring — the LaFrances suggest trying to prepare in advance. Taking your dog to pet-friendly stores can expose them to a variety of surfaces before you hit the road for a trip. If that’s not possible, Blake said it’s imperative you walk confidently into the situation.

“Make sure you have control of your animal during the new experience,” she said. “You always have to be the leader of the pack and they know when you feel confident and you are leading them.”

As for possible emergencies, it’s important to be prepared. Bring a pet first aid kit, extra food, leashes and collars, know the phone number of a local veterinarian and carry a copy of your dog’s rabies vaccination to help avert possible disaster.

Since your dog doesn’t have the ability to pack and bring what may be wanted or needing for a trip, that responsibility falls on the owner.

“Your pets are you family, too — just treat them like your kids,” Roni LaFrance said. “We always travel with our dogs. It feels like second nature.”


Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at or 541-564-4539.


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