Travelling with a dog?
April 14, 2007 8:37 PM   Subscribe

DogFilter: If I'm going to be travelling all the time for the next 10 years, should I not get a dog?

I'm about to start a career that will have me bouncing all around the world for the next 10 years or so with little semblance of a home base. The thought of not having a dog for that many years kind of sucks.

I've read up on airline requirements for pets, but I haven't heard much first-hand experience regarding travelling with your dog. If I get a dog, I'd get one that satisfies airline carry-on requirements (Seems like under 15 lbs is a good rule of thumb), as I've heard some horror stories about pets travelling in cargo.

So, my questions would be this: Can I get a dog without traumatizing it with all of this travelling? With sufficient training, can I find a dog that would be cool with getting on planes and hanging out for the whole trip under the seat? Any first-hand experiences?

I'm particularly curious about whether international flights are a feasible thing; seems like airlines officially don't allow you to take your dog out, which is kind of crazy when it's a 10 hour flight (what do you do? get doggie diapers? Sneak your dog into the bathroom?) What about these insane 6-month quarantine issues I hear about?
posted by anonymoose to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think getting a dog given your situation would be pretty selfish.

In addition, you have no idea how airline regulations regarding pets will change over the coming years. As an example: not that I would ever put my dog on a plane (I think it's cruel), but recently some airlines have passed regulations specifically disallowing the breed of dog I have from boarding a plane. Such was not the case when I adopted him 9 years ago.
posted by dobbs at 8:44 PM on April 14, 2007

Dogs are social critters that need lots of stability. You may bond to a good dog that only needs you and will be okay when you aren't around, but I really doubt it. Please don't get a dog.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:46 PM on April 14, 2007

If I'm going to be travelling all the time for the next 10 years, should I not get a dog?

Correct. You should not get a dog.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:52 PM on April 14, 2007

I agree, you shouldn't get a dog given your life style.
posted by HuronBob at 8:54 PM on April 14, 2007

What they said, but specifically: If you're bouncing all over the world, that dog is going to spend much of its life in quarantine.
posted by mendel at 9:05 PM on April 14, 2007

I don't think that you should get a dog, but perhaps find friends in your homebase that would let you hang out with their dog when you are home?
posted by k8t at 9:06 PM on April 14, 2007

I'll just add that the issues with dogs on planes is not limited to only the airline regulations. There is also the question of whether your dog will be allowed into a country without an extended stay in a kennel. The rules keep changing on this, so don't assume that because the rules for countries A, B, and C are X, Y, and Z today that it will be the same next year. (Lately it has been changing in favor of traveling with pets, but all it takes is one disease outbreak, and that's the end of that...)

So yeah, frequent international travel isn't really compatible with having a companion dog. (The usual course of events, though, is that a person starts the footloose and fancyfree lifestyle you describe, and then finds that it is not only incompatible with having a companion dog, but also with having a companion person. A lot of the same situations that work well for having a spouse (or spousal-equivalent) work well for having a pet, as well. Something to think about down the road.)
posted by Forktine at 9:25 PM on April 14, 2007

Agreeing with all the above -- plus, having a dog restricts your life if you're on the move. Really, it'd be a dog's life.
posted by anadem at 9:27 PM on April 14, 2007

I am convinced that life without a dog is not worth living. Get the dog and do whatever you have to do to make it work.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:36 PM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Life with a dog is probably full of dog shit and dog hair and dog saliva. Are you intending to fob this off on others for ten years? I don't understand the question.
posted by longsleeves at 9:45 PM on April 14, 2007

Why don't you foster? It's great fun and it really, really helps find dog homes. Most dogs only stick around for 2 weeks to 3 months to start with and if you have to go you can give them to another volunteer.
posted by fshgrl at 9:53 PM on April 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

I agree, you should not get a dog.

Have you thought about fostering, though? This might be a really good option for you.
posted by kitty teeth at 9:55 PM on April 14, 2007

I totally empathize with your situation. I will also be bouncing around a bit [research in remote locations] for the next several years so I can't get a dog myself. Instead, I do what k8t suggested. I am the dogfather to my best friends dog and I've watched/played with him multiple times a week for the past several years. Really, it's the next best thing to do.

As others have suggested please don't get a dog till you're settled.
posted by special-k at 9:55 PM on April 14, 2007

If you are traveling internationally a lot, your dog may spend more time in quarantine than with you.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:05 PM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Depending on what countries you travel to quarantine may not be necessary. YSome countries allow you to send blood work ahead of time and allow entry if your dog is chipped. Still, your situation does not sound ideal for a dog.
posted by Frank Grimes at 10:10 PM on April 14, 2007

Thanks for comments so far. Fostering is a good idea I had not considered, and more info on that front would certainly be appreciated.

Also, I will probably get a bit more grounded in the US in a few years with not quite as much ocean-hopping. As that may be a more appropriate time to get a dog, I'd appreciate any first-hand experiences with domestic pet travel you might have.
posted by anonymoose at 10:19 PM on April 14, 2007

Also, does a specific country's quarantine policy apply when you have a layover in that country? If I'm stop in Britain on the way to Germany, do they take my hypothetical dog away before I get to Germany?
posted by anonymoose at 10:22 PM on April 14, 2007

You know it's a bad idea to get a dog in those circumstances or you wouldn't have asked. Even lots of domestic travel is a bad situation to have a dog in. So wait until you've got a more settled lifestyle.
posted by 6550 at 11:26 PM on April 14, 2007

I don't have first hand experience, but I have two friends who's dogs died during travel in domestic flights in the last three years. Airline liability: Zero.

Just something else to think about.
posted by Ookseer at 12:10 AM on April 15, 2007

First off, bad idea to have a pet if you know you'll be travelling that much. If you're not stable in one location (within reason of course), it simply isn't fair to the animal. They'll bond to you and then you'll be away. A lot. International travel with pets simply isn't practical, especially if its on business.

Secondly, I obviously don't know your situation but, it's interesting that you know what you'll be doing for the next 10 years.
posted by michswiss at 5:19 AM on April 15, 2007

I'm going to be semi-contrarian and say that it might work, but that you should wait a couple of years to see how the career plays out, what kind of travel you actually end up doing, and how a dog would fit into that. I travel a lot domestically for work, and I wouldn't dream of getting a dog while doing 100% travel, but I would also say the same about getting married or having kids. Yet some people do all three things and seem happy.

(I don't know anyone who brings the dog with them, though. That seems completely unworkable to me, but maybe your travel pattern would be compatible with it....)
posted by backupjesus at 5:46 AM on April 15, 2007

Fostering is a good idea, I used to have roommates who did it. You can either talk to your local shelter (Humane Society), breed-specific rescue groups (my mom did fostering for the North Carolina Beagle Rescue), or a local foster group (around here one is called Save a Life).

You basically keep adoption-worthy dogs that the shelters do not have room to hold so that they're not euthanized. When my mom did it, she would keep the dog until someone adopted it (or she did, which is what usually happened). When my roommates did it they would keep a dog for about 2 weeks and then it would either go into a semi-permanent foster home or be adopted out.
posted by bradbane at 7:53 AM on April 15, 2007

Re: domestic travel (assuming you mean by car - flying a dog is not something I'd generally want to do on a frequent or casual basis).

I travel a lot with my dog (mainly between Texas and Toronto, but also quite a bit to attend dog shows and the like), and I love it. If you're planning to stay in hotels/motels, there are plenty which take dogs (but you do need to plan your trips ahead of time if you're going somewhere new, since sometimes individual hotels in chains don't allow pets and/or state laws don't), and you do need to keep in mind that traveling in the summer specifically can be a bit of a hassle, since you can't leave the dog in the car while you stop to eat or wander round a museum or whatever. There are negatives as well as positives, of course (it severely limits the non-dog-friendly activities you can do while traveling, for one thing), but if you plan ahead and equip yourself properly (appropriately-sized crate with good padding, spillproof water bowl, spare collar & leash, proof of vaccination and/or blood titer results, make sure you have gradually accustomed the dog to travel etc.), traveling with a dog can be a lot of fun.
posted by biscotti at 8:10 AM on April 15, 2007

We just got back from a long trip to Europe, where we traveled from country to country with our small dog.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you may be able to get or train the RIGHT dog. Both me and my sister have small dogs that can travel in-cabin, and we take them everywhere. My sister travels almost constantly, even internationally, and while her dog is pretty high-energy, she doesn't mind flying and sits quietly under the airplane seat for 10, 12 hours or even more. Both dogs like their cases and they just sleep. After all, most dogs sleep through the night without going to the bathroom. Ours just sleep under the airplane seat.

As for quarantines, it depends on the country. Island countries (e.g. Britain, Australia), have strict quarantine rules, but most other European countries do not.

All that having been said, it may cramp your style a bit when you get where you're going, depending on what you want to do. Or it could be wonderful to have a companion with you when you travel (this is how we feel). Most European hotels accept dogs, and will even let you leave your (well-behaved) dog in the room while you go out. More and more American hotels accept dogs, but you usually cannot leave them in the room unattended. You can usually take dogs just about everywhere in Europe, including restaurants (especially in their cases), but you cannot take them to museums.

Not only are our dogs not traumatized by traveling - they like the excitement of visiting new places and meeting new people. Most hotel owners loved our dogs and gave us no trouble. So it certainly can be done, and can even be great for both you and dog. But you really have to find the right dog.
posted by xammerboy at 9:14 AM on April 15, 2007

I agree with xammerboy, and have lots of experience traveling with dogs. Email me if you want to discuss further.
posted by walla at 9:22 AM on April 15, 2007

Also, I agree with ThePinkSuperhero - life is way better with dogs, and what dogs need most is love, companisonship, and care, not a specific type of physical environment.
posted by walla at 9:37 AM on April 15, 2007

life is way better with dogs, and what dogs need most is love, companisonship, and care, not a specific type of physical environment

Life certainly is much better with dogs, but the dog has no say in the matter, and part of loving dogs is recognizing when your lifestyle does not allow for providing a dog with a good life. Being shipped overseas regularly, left in quarantine and/or boarded out for long periods on a regular basis is simply not a good life for most dogs. Kudos to anonymoose for asking this question and for being aware of the fact that his/her current lifestyle just might not be one a dog will fit comfortably into.
posted by biscotti at 10:44 AM on April 15, 2007

I don't have first hand experience, but I have two friends whose dogs died during travel in domestic flights in the last three years. Airline liability: Zero.

This is an important point. Airlines are notoriously bad ways for dogs to travel.

Dogs need stability and routine.

No, you should not get a dog. Foster if you want to help with dogs.
posted by winna at 1:51 PM on April 15, 2007

Dogs need stability and routine.

I don't know why people assume this about all dogs. Dogs are different and can be very adaptable - my dogs have thrived on traveling and love the variety. Frankly, I think traveling can be better for a dog than just sitting around the house all day, which is how a lot of people give their dogs "stability and routine."

And while airline cargo is undoubtedly a bad way for pets to travel (I would not put my dogs in cargo if I could at all avoid it), cabin flight is fine. Quarantine should also be avoided, but depending on the country, it often can be. If anonymoose gets a small dog, s/he will probably be able to keep it with him/her most of the time - it won't be "shipped" around etc. My dogs travel with me.

Dogs can be happy in lots of different situations, especially if they are with caring owners. I'm not saying anonymoose should get a dog, but that I don't think the idea is at all out of the question.
posted by walla at 2:58 PM on April 15, 2007

You sound like you are on the point of deciding what to do with your life for the next few years. You appear to be contemplating doing a great deal of international travel on business with a lot of living in hotels. I would say this probably means you should not have a dog - some would get on fine; most won't and you would not be able to predict if it would all work out in advance. If it does not work out the dog will suffer.

However you might want to consider whether you would be happier tuning your life in such a way that you *could* have a dog - for example by moderating the amount of travel that you agree to do or by looking for a job that featured a higher ratio of shorter-range, dog-compatible trips.
posted by rongorongo at 3:39 PM on April 15, 2007

Don't get the dog.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:48 PM on April 23, 2007

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