Packing for a dog is like packing for a toddler — you can’t forget the essentials. No matter how hard you try, your dog will accept no substitutions for a favorite toy or snack. So if you forget that one little thing? Bam! Vacation ruined. With summer trips on the horizon, it’s time to get organized. Don’t leave home without these 10 things:
1. Treats! Does your dog expect to get a treat when you go to the store? Or, when you come back? Take some with you so he doesn’t think he’s in trouble.
2. Chewy toys, rawhides, or elk antlers. You don’t want Fido destroying your own furniture, much less something in a rental home that you’ll have to pay for. If your dog is a chewer, bring something to satisfy the urge. And make sure you pack his favorite toy that makes him feel at home. If he is a lover of tennis balls, pack a bag or be prepared to troll a local court for foul balls.
3. Whatever it takes for your dog to rest easy. My husband and I are terrible parents. Our children slept in the same pack-and-play at home because we never got around to buying a crib. However, it worked in our favor because we could take it with us, so our children always slept like they were at home. Does your dog have a bed, pillow, or blanket? Does she sleep with you? Because that makes it really easy. And, if your dog is used to a crate, figure out how to get it there.
4. Something to keep your pet cool on a hot day. We particularly love pressure-activated doggie cooling pads because they also work really well as seat covers in hot cars for humans. Make sure you also have something to keep your dog in the shade outside if you’re the kind of person who likes to read on the beach for hours. (I am that person.)
5. Food and water bowls. Sure, you could use whatever you find in the cabinet, but if it’s a rental, borrowing a bowl seems a little presumptuous. Besides, they’ll slide across the floor all week, and the noise will destroy your vacation Zen. Bring weighted pet food bowls as well as a foldable one for water that you can take on outings so Sport doesn’t get dehydrated. These are perfect for hikes, the boat, or the beach.
6. Food. Unless you have the most relaxed dog in the world — one with an iron stomach — bring an ample food supply for your whole vacation. While many pets can handle a change, the last thing you want to deal with is a dog with an upset stomach.
7. A leash. You will want to be able to take your dog on walks, hikes, or to the beach safely without the uncertainty — or excitement — of Buddy’s new surroundings causing him to run away from you and into danger. And there is nothing worse than a rambunctious, out-of-control dog unleashed. Even though you may think it is cute, chances are the sunbather waking up to a sloppy kiss doesn’t. Also, many beaches require dogs to be leashed during peak hours, so be sure to check.
8. Updated tags. Even if Maybelle isn’t a runner, you never know what she’ll do in unfamiliar territory. Leaving home can unsettle dogs, and their instinct to go back home can kick in. At home, a neighbor will usually recognize your baby and bring her back. But when you’re out of town, no one knows Spot from Rex, or any other dog. Make sure your phone number and other information are updated on your dog’s tags so someone can call you immediately if she escapes.
9. The number for an emergency vet. As soon as you arrive, or before, find out where you will go if you have to.
10. Permission. No matter what, you need permission to bring a pet. If you’re renting, don’t try to avoid the pet fee by lying. (Your dog will be so ashamed if you’re caught.) And if you’re visiting a friend, make sure your pet is invited, too, or get ready for a lot of awkward looks and silence. Do you want to be invited back?