Traveling with Dogs or Other Pets

On our trips to Europe, we often noticed the many dogs who sauntered through the streets and parks. I photographed the stray cats of Pisa and shared meals with other strays throughout Greece. We realized that the kindness we experienced as tourists extended to all creatures, great and small. We also recognized that we did more hiking when we traveled than we did at home and, as we were getting stronger from the exercise, our little terrier was probably snoozing on the sofa at home waiting for his "pet-sitter" to take him for a walk. After researching how to bring Poko with us, and then doing all the things we needed to do to get him across the Atlantic, we spent the almost two months traveling with our little rescued pup.

The pre-coronavirus process for taking a dog from the US to most of the EU (rules for Britain, and Ireland if your flight connects through Britain are different; there are also worming requirements a a condition to entry in Sweden or Norway) was relatively easy but definitely required us to set up a schedule to complete the process. Our dog needed to get a second microchip to that could be read with the most common scanners in Europe, and because of the new chip, he needed a rabies shot performed after the chip insertion though he had recently received a 3-year vaccine.

To simplify our first trip with the dog, we decided go to places that only required US paperwork, in our case: Denmark, Germany, France, and Switzerland. We also booked all of our travel through Lufthansa, which had the most spacious allowance for the dog carrier. We also carefully purchased the lightest carrier we could find and then lightened it more by keeping the dogs food, blanket and toys in my other carryon (a second carrier that worked well as my carry-on and would meet weigh requirements if Poko gained weight during our adventure. As rules change for the coronoavirus, with limitations on the number of carry-ons, the strategy I used might not be allowed.

The rules are also simpler for small dogs under 15 pounds. Our little terrie/chihuahua mix, with an extremely long body, just barely fit under the weight limit and needed a modified carrier to be comfortable during the flight. Fortunately, we had found a "Sturdi" carrier that could collapse under the seat and I made some adjustments to it so it hit the bag dimensions limits.

By temperment, Poko is the perfect canine air traveler. From the day we adopted him, he has crawled under the passenger seat in our Toyota for every car trip we've taken. He doesn't spend much time looking out windows, doesn't want to be on a lap, and doesn't need to burn off excess energy. He also has demonstrated the ability to be disciplined for more than 14 hours between potty walks.

Keep these things in consideration when you are pondering a trip with your dog:

  • Will your dog be allowed in the passenger section? If not, do you feel comfortable having your dog travel in the cargo section of your plane?
  • Will your dog be able to stay quiet/calm for 12 to 18 hours and last that long without a potty break?
  • Will the motion or noise of a plane stress your dog?
  • Will your dog be comfortable with new strangers and new settings?
  • Will you have plenty of time to spend with your dog as you travel or will other obligations require you to leave you puppy alone or at a kennel?
  • Will travel companions feel slighted by the attention you give your dog when visiting attractions and
  • Will having your dog severely restrict the things you want to do in Europe?
  • Do you have the funds to cover additional expenses, including airfare, that you'll encounter as you travel with your dog?