Toy dogs can be some of the easiest or some of the most difficult pets to travel with. As common sense would indicate, the smaller the size of the dog the easier they are to take in cars, trains, airplanes and even on boats and cruises. Small toy dogs are often allowed in places where only assistance dogs can go, especially if they are in a carrier or carrying bag that is secured. This ability to travel means that owners don't have to crate their dogs and put them in luggage compartments, rather the dog's can travel right with the owners on the plane, train, bus or other form of transportation.
Traveling By Car
Traveling by vehicle with a toy dog can be a relatively pleasant experience or it can be a disaster. Many toy dogs are rather nervous and somewhat anxious in new surroundings, especially if they are not routinely taken in a vehicle or socialized. The best option is to bring your pet's crate or cage along and provide them with a comfortable, familiar and safe place to relax during the journey. There are seatbelt attachments, similar to those used with baby car seats, which can secure the cage or crate to the seat, preventing any slipping or movement.
Remember to take the dog out every three to four hours for a short break and to go to the bathroom. Always place the leash and collar or harness on the dog before opening the doors. Many dogs of all sizes are lost when someone opens the door before the dog is on the leash and he or she jumps out and runs off. By ensuring that the dog is on the leash and you have control of the dog you never have to worry about this unfortunate situation occurring.
Be sure to bring water and food with you and don't plan to just use water that you find along the way. Bottled water is always safe and can be purchased as needed, but don't allow your dog to drink from streams, ponds or puddles. Bacteria and other organisms that can cause mild to severe digestive problems or even health concerns can be present in this type of water. Since your toy dog is unlikely to have any natural immunity to these organisms and is so small he or she may be more sensitive to developing problems than other dogs native to the area.
If your toy breed is a finicky eater then bringing your own food from home is a must. This can be challenging if you feed a raw or natural diet or use only freshly made foods such as boiled chicken and rice diets. You may be able to plan stops to prepare food and bring along a cooler to keep the food at the correct temperature. Another option would be to plan to stop at hotels or accommodations that have kitchen units. Some pet stores now carry raw and natural food meals all prepared and frozen which could be a great option if you know where to stop to replenish your supplies.
Although it may be tempting to bring the dog out of his or her cage or crate and sit with them on your lap in the vehicle, resist this temptation. Not only is your dog at great risk in the event of a sudden stop or accident but it can also be very distracting to the driver.
Traveling By Air
Most airlines now allow small dogs within the plane, providing they are brought onboard and kept within specific types of carriers. It is very important to check the airlines individual requirements for what size and type of carriers are acceptable. Even for toy breeds there is an expectation that the dogs will be secured in an airline approved carrier. These do not include designer doggy bags, oversized purses and other types of non-standard carriers. Some airlines only allow specific brands as well so calling well ahead is essential.
The other consideration when traveling by plane with toy breeds is that they often are very sensitive to temperature changes. If the dog is not in the cabin with you most airlines will not allow toy breeds in the luggage area in either hot or cold conditions since there is too much liability for the airlines. Some breeds, particularly those with short coats, can easily become sick with just a few hours of cold temperature and any dog is very prone to dehydration in hot temperatures.
Talk to your vet before flying with your toy breed and ask about any symptoms you should watch for post flight. Typically dehydration and stress are going to be the biggest issues so be sure to feed, water and exercise your dog as soon as possible after getting off the flight.
Never take your dog out of the carrier while in the airport. Dogs often are so stressed that they manage to get out of the carrier and just take off running. Their small size makes them difficult to find as they can easily get behind objects and furniture. Far worse they are also at greatest risk for being stepped on since they are so small most people aren't looking low enough to see the small dogs as they approach.
Traveling By Cab, Train or Bus
Since many cabs and buses are privately owned and operated it is important to check with each company to see if your dog can or cannot come on the vehicle. The vast majority of companies are fine with toy breed dogs provided they are kept in a carrier or secured in a doggy carry on bag. Dogs wandering around in the vehicle are not acceptable plus it is a real danger to the dog.
Owners need to socialize and rehearse any type of travel with their dog well in advance of the trip. The calmer and more accepting of the whole holiday or trip the dog is the less stress both you and your pet will experience. Always be sure to bring a few treats and toys to help pass the time when the dog is awake. Most dogs that are experienced travelers soon learn to take the time to have a sleep, making it wonderful to travel with them in any type of vehicle.