Home
travel
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Car Safety
How to protect your dog while driving

I recently saw a dog tossed around the back of a vehicle when the driver had to stop suddenly to avoid an accident. Luckily the dog was okay, but many dogs who are not so fortunate are injured in car accidents. The saddest thing to me is that it can be avoided.

  The best ways to protect dogs while they are in cars is with the use of crates, seat belts, or barriers that keep the dogs in the rear part of the vehicle. Even without these specific safety features, keeping dogs in the back seat rather than the front seat and not having them ride around in the back of trucks are ways to protect them from harm.   How do you travel in the car with your dogs? Have you had the misfortune to find out if they are safe in the event of a crash?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Big Dogs Deserve Vacations, Too
Do hotel size restrictions make sense?

Many hotels have size restrictions on the dogs they allow to stay with them. Typically, in hotels with such restrictions, dogs must be under a certain weight, such as 20, 25, 30 or 35 pounds. There is a new campaign to allow dogs of all sizes to stay in hotels so that they, too, can travel with their families. This campaign is called “Give Big Dogs A Break” and was launched by two groups. Go Pet Friendly and And A Small Dog joined forces to help give big dogs the same opportunities as little dogs to go on vacation. They are asking people to sign a petition in support of big dogs being allowed to stay at hotels.

 

I wonder what the reasoning is behind this size restriction? What are hotel companies worried about? If it’s noise or destruction, I hate to break it to them, but little dogs are not guaranteed to be saints in these areas. Perhaps they are worried about excess cleaning troubles related to dog hair, but if that’s the case, why not make the restriction against long-haired or heavily shedding dogs? Maybe the issue is a concern about alienating other customers, who might be afraid of big dogs, or liability issues should a big dog jump up on someone and knock them over.

 

We used to travel a lot with our 60-pound dog, and sometimes we did have trouble finding a place to stay because of the size restrictions. Other times, it was clear that the restrictions were loosely followed. I always asked if dogs were allowed, and when they asked the weight of my dog, I’d say, “60 pounds.” On more than one occasion, a hotel clerk answered, “Did you say 25 pounds?” to which I would reply, “No, 60 pounds.” At this point, I variously had clerks reply, “I’m just going to write 25 pounds here,” or “I think he looks to be about 25 pounds,” and book us into a room. Other times, the question was bypassed completely when the person helping us looked at our dog, winked, and said, “He’s about 25 pounds, right?” It probably helped that I always brought my dog into the lobby to demonstrate his good behavior. I’d ask for him to do a “wait” at the door, put him on “heel” as I came over to the desk, and then on a “down stay” when I spoke to the hotel employee.

 

What have your experiences been with trying to find hotels for larger dogs? Have you been denied a room or have you been allowed to stay places with your big dog despite the official rules?

 

News: Guest Posts
Large, Fragile and Valuable
Should dogs get their own seats on airplanes?

Reader comments to TheBark.com are almost always onpoint, insightful, informative and polite--even about issues that makes us want to tear our hair out. We saw a pretty heated but information-loaded string of feedback to a post by JoAnna Lou last fall. She wrote about people who falsely claim their dog is a service animal in order to qualify for privileges not ordinary extended to companion dogs. There was a lot of passion in the reader replies--but also some solid education, perspective and attempts at consensus building. Take this comment from Carolyn:

I think it is great that service dogs are allowed with their person on flights. I think that others wishing to pay for a seat for their dog should be able to. People traveling with cellos or other large, fragile and valuable instruments can buy a seat for it. “Large, fragile and valuable” can pertain to dogs too (and I mean valuable in the sense of having worth beyond monetary). I sympathize with people who need to travel and would like to bring their dog but understandably balk at relegating [the dog] to freight.

What do you think? Will big dogs ever get a seat on regular flights? Should they?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Traveling Without Dogs
Who cares for them in your absence?

I recently returned from nearly two weeks in Nicaragua. The trip was the field component of Northern Arizona University’s course “Tropical Forest Insect Ecology” for which I am one of the instructors. With a thousand things to do before departure--including taking exams, writing papers, packing, arranging for mail to be held and newspapers to be stopped, attending to vaccinations and anti-malarial medications, and all the other tasks required before a trip out of the country--I was sure that the students would be pretty overwhelmed by the time we began our 30-hour journey to the remote field station on an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.

As we talked about what the final 24 hours before departure had been like for each of us, a single theme of angst came up: The most stressful thing for many in the group was having to leave their dogs behind. Nearly half of them have dogs. I was very impressed with the lengths that the students went in arranging the best care for their dogs while they were gone. All had friends or family who were stepping up to care for the dogs during the students’ absence. In one case, a student’s long distance boyfriend had flown in from the East Coast to watch her dog while she was away. That is clearly responsible dedication from all parties, since the time he spent away from home was not time that this couple could be together. I hear a lot about how college students are not responsible with their pets, and I found that at least with this group, that is not true at all. Most of these students travel with their pets most of the time, but that is not possible (nor would it be safe for the dogs) when traveling to Nicaragua.

Like the very best dog guardians, students or not, these people made sure that their dogs were well cared for during their absence. If you must travel without your pets, what do you do to arrange for their care?

News: Guest Posts
Guests Behaving Badly
Hotel horror stories from dog-friendly hotels

If you enjoy road-trippin’ with your dog and hope the universe of hotels opening their doors to pooches will continue to expand, you don’t want a high profile travel writer to nearly step in a pile of poop in a dog-friendly hotel. It’s not good for the cause. Unfortunately, that’s what happened. MSNBC.com travel maven Harriet Baskas, who recently updated Bark readers about pet relief stations at airports, discovered an odiferous surprise just outside the elevator of a Portland hotel. After her trip, she emailed me and asked if I’d heard about this dark side of doggie guests. I haven’t but honestly this is not the sort of thing violators are going to admit to me. Meanwhile, Harriet uncovered plenty of examples of owners behaving badly. Like so many aspects of living with dogs, a few bad apples can quickly spoil the general good will and tolerance out there.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Holiday Travel With Pets
Tips from American Humane

Every year, millions of people travel with their dogs over the holidays. And every year, many of those people vow not to do it again next year. Long car rides and airplane rides can be extremely stressful for our dogs and for us as well.

Considering safety issues such as crates for car travel and whether a pet is healthy enough (physically and emotionally) to travel by air is important. If the dog is too big to fly in the cabin, going by car or briefly boarding your dog may have enough advantages to outweigh the disadvantages. It is essential to teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate before driving over the river and through the woods for hours with your dog in that crate.

Pre-trip planning such as making advance reservations at pet friendly hotels, bringing along copies of medical records in case you need to see a veterinarian while you are away, and ordering up-to-date ID tags with the contact information of your destination are all ways to make your trip smoother.

American Humane offers a more thorough list of holiday travel tips for pets. Bon voyage!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Unethical or Responsible Pet Care?
Playing service dog to travel first class.

The legitimacy and training of service dogs has come up a lot recently, and many of the cases do not have clear solutions. But what about when someone is consciously taking advantage of the privileges granted to service dogs?

With the USDAA Cynosport World Games coming up in Scottsdale, Ariz., I’ve been talking to many of the local competitors about how they’re traveling with their dogs. Some are caravanning in their RVs and others are reluctantly putting their pups in cargo. 

One of the more seasoned competitors mentioned that while she dutifully puts her dogs in cargo, she always sees fellow competitors passing their pups off as service dogs on the plane.

I understand the appeal of having your dog fly with you, safe and sound. It’s certainly a tempting option, and probably in your pet's best interest, but it seems to me like an abuse of the system.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with service dogs, which the federal government defines as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. They don’t need to be licensed or certified by the government, nor are they required to show any identification to prove a medical condition or the dog’s capabilities (although many companies sell authentic looking certificates for a hefty fee).

The flexibility designed to help the disabled also allows the law to be easily abused. These well-meaning people have their pup's best interest in mind, but are also unknowingly undermining legitimate service dogs.

What’s your take?  Is playing service dog unethical or responsible pet care?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Is It Okay To Drink And Bark?
Many wineries welcome dogs

Hotels have become more dog friendly, and so have many businesses. Years ago it was rare to walk into a store to be greeted by a dog, but now it’s unremarkable. More and more people are bringing their dogs to work, and they are more common visitors at hospitals, schools, and rehab centers.

Still, it represents a big advance that so many wineries have resident dogs or welcome visitors with their own dogs in tow. In the October 2009 issue of Diablo Magazine, wineries in Northern California that welcome dogs are highlighted. How much nicer is it to take your dog with you for a relaxing weekend in the wine country than to go alone. When you can bring your dog and drink wine, you have found a place where life is good!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dining with the Whole Family
Searching for dog friendly restaurants is becoming easier for pet lovers.

I’ve always envied Parisian restaurants where you can dine with your furry companions, a practice banned stateside by our health codes. Eating with my pups is one of my favorite warm weather activities, although I’ve braved the cold many times to enjoy a meal with the whole family!

I’m always on the lookout for good restaurants with decks or sidewalk spaces, although not even all places with outdoor seating allow pets. Once I was even asked to tie my pups to a tree across the sidewalk. Needless to say, I didn’t eat there!

Online reservation website, Open Table, recently published a list of the best pet-friendly restaurants, compiled from user reviews. They included several in New York City, but left out two of my favorites -- Fred’s, named after a Labrador and whose customers’ dog photos adorn every free space on the walls, and Fetch, host of weekend adoption events and whose walls feature homeless canines.

I’ve also been able to find restaurants by searching “pet friendly” on Yelp’s message boards and by looking through Citysearch’s reviews. DogFriendly.com and PetFriendlyTravel.com also maintain databases of eateries that welcome pups.

Do you have favorite restaurants that welcome your four legged crew?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Seaside Fun and Foliage
Labor Day ushers in dog friendly beaches across the Northeast.

I spent last weekend vacationing in the seaside communities of Southern Maine. While the towns I visited were dog friendly, the beaches were not. As I was walking around, I noticed that many of Maine’s sandy shores welcome canines after Labor Day--just days after my trip. 

This trend can be seen down the Northeast coast from Cape Cod to the Jersey Shore. September can still be quite warm, and the passing of Labor Day brings cheaper hotel rates and thinning crowds. What’s better than an affordable vacation with the pups by your side?

Once October comes, even more beaches welcome dogs. The cooler weather adds New England’s changing foliage to the already beautiful seascape. The first of the month opens up the shores of Delaware’s Bethany Beach, Maryland’s Ocean City, Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard, and New Jersey’s Cape May, just to name a few.

The Northeast isn’t the only place where restrictions ease after the summer rush. Even San Diego’s Del Mar North “Dog Beach” expands after Labor Day, allowing pups access to the Main Beach in addition to other year round areas.

Come next summer, I might just plan my vacation for the cooler months.

For a comprehensive list of dog friendly beaches, visit PetFriendlyTravel.com’s web page.

Be sure to check out DogFriendly.com’s beach etiquette page before your trip to ensure we continue to have beaches to take our furry friends.

Pages