dog looking out window

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How to Leave Your Dog in A New Place When Traveling

Are you trying to figure out how to plan a dog-friendly vacation, but you’re worried about leaving your dog alone in a new place while on vacation? Most pet owners find themselves feeling anxious when they leave their pets alone anywhere new. This could be at a friend’s house, private vacation rental, or hotel. It can be frustrating to feel like you are missing out on memorable parts of your vacation because they aren’t dog friendly.

dog looking out window

Though I do believe that your dog should get to go on at least a few outings when they travel with you, I also believe that you shouldn’t miss out on some of the amazing non-pet-friendly activities available during your vacation.  With a little preparation and some helpful tips, you can decrease your stress levels and set your dog up for success so they can be as safe and comfortable as possible when they must stay behind. Read on to learn how to prepare a safe and comfortable space for your pup so you can fully enjoy every part of your next vacation.

Complete a Safety Check

Always do a thorough walk-through in any new place before you leave your dog unattended. As you go room to room, look for anything that can become a danger to your pet or that your pet may destroy. I recommend doing this safety check WITH your dog. When your dog is investigating each new area, you will learn what items they seem to be TOO interested in so you can remove them.

dog licking indoor plant

Keep an eye out for any items with sharp edges, openings where they can get stuck, things that are similar to toys that they like to chew on, and anything that is toxic to dogs. Remember to check under furniture, behind doors, and on and in counters and dressers.  This can help you make the decision of what items need to be removed or protected. It will also help you decide if your dog will be safer in a crate when you leave. And even if they need to wear reusable diapers indoors if they seem interested in marking.

dog peering over kitchen counter with food on it

Though dogs should never be left alone outside in a new place for long, you will want to be sure to do a similar safety check outside as well. Check for gaps as well as weak or low areas in the fence line. You will also want to check for any objects, toxic plants or nuts, or animals that may be in the yard that your dog could get to. I also recommend cleaning up any feces from previous animals to lessen the chance that your pup gets exposed to any parasites or other diseases that can be transmitted this way.

person holding a bag of dog poop

Create a Safe Space for Your Dog

Most issues that occur when leaving your pet in a new place are due to anxiety. You will want your dog to be as comfortable as possible when you leave them alone in a new place. Creating a safe space for them is the best way to do this. Their safe space should be similar to an area at home where they feel relaxed and comfortable.

French bulldog laying in crate on blanket and next to toys

The easiest way to do this is by having your pup crate trained. If they have a crate at home that they enjoy being in, it will make the ideal safe space. The best part is that if your dog is in a crate when you leave them alone, you know that they won’t be able to get into trouble.

Puppy chewing on yarn taken out of a basket

If your dog does not do well in crates or you simply prefer to give them a bigger space, you can also set up a room or section off an area where you are staying as their safe space.

Whether you are using a crate or an entire room, you will want to make sure the area that you choose is a place with limited activity. This is important so that your dog’s safe space is a calm area where they can decompress when they are overwhelmed and doesn’t flare up their anxiety.

Bring Your Dog Comfort Items from Home 

Setting aside a safe space is important but you will also want to make sure your dog has a few items from home.  Having things that are a part of their normal routine can reduce their stress in new places. These things could be favorite toys, blankets, or chews. Make sure not to wash them before your trip because they are more effective if the items smell like home.

puppy chewing a toy on a dog bed

You can also play sounds that your dog would normally hear at home. If your pup is used to a radio station or tv being on when you leave, make sure you do the same thing in the new place. Doing this will accomplish two things. First, it will provide another aspect of normalcy from home. Secondly, doing this will help cover the new sounds that might cause your pet anxiety or excitement which may cause them to bark. We bring along our Amazon Echo to play waterfall or ocean sounds. Luckily, sound machines are very portable!

Set Up a Camera to Keep an Eye on Your Dog

Depending on your dog, and your comfort level, you may want to set up a camera to keep a watchful eye on your pup when you leave them alone. Pet owners should consider doing this for a variety of reasons. If your pup suffers from severe anxiety, you will want to keep a closer eye on them to make sure they are not participating in destructive or self-harming behaviors when they are left alone. If you see harmful behaviors like this starting, you will know to cut your outing short and head back to them. If your dog is not crated, a camera will also let you check in to make sure that they are being good guests.

dog sitting around a pillow ripped apart

Cameras are also great for anxious pet parents. If you suffer from anxiety, knowing that you have the ability to check in and see that your pets are ok at any time can mean that you will be able to relax and enjoy yourself when you are out. This can make a world of difference because dogs do pick up and respond to how you are feeling. If you are stressed, they are more likely to feel stressed.

2 people smiling and staring at phone

They are also incredibly useful if your dog has any health issues that require more attention or maybe exasperated by the stress of travel. This is useful whether you are on the road or at home. Our dog’s health issues were the reason we invested in a WYZE camera so we could monitor him when we were at work or when one of us had to go out of town. It was incredibly comforting to be able to log in and watch how he was doing even if I couldn’t be there with him.  

Most cameras are easy to set up, only needing access to the Wi-Fi so it is fairly easy to use the one you have from home, or you can invest in a smaller one for travel.

Maintain a Similar Routine for Your Dog

Keeping as many things as routine as possible can help alleviate your pet’s stress. Try to feed your dog, give potty breaks, and go on their walks as close to their normal schedule as possible. This is especially important if you have a set routine when you leave them alone. Make sure to say your typical goodbye phrase, give them their normal treat or toy, etc. when you head out. A sense of normalcy goes super far with animals.

finger touching raised paw of small puppy

Give Your Dog Time to Acclimate to the New Place

To set your dog up for success, you should always give them time to get used to their new surroundings before you leave them alone. The ideal amount of time will be different for every dog and even for every new place. Remember that your dog doesn’t know what is happening. Being taken to a new place and immediately being left alone could be traumatic for them. This is especially true if they had been abandoned or given up by a previous owner. You can lower their stress levels when they are eventually left alone simply by making sure they are used to the new place before you leave.

dog sleeping on couch and pillow

Start With Leaving Your Dog for Short Periods of Time

After your pet seems comfortable in their new surroundings, you still don’t want to take off for a full day of fun without them. Start with a shorter amount of time away. This will do two things. It will give you a test run to see if there is anything you need to change before you leave them alone for hours like adjust the sound volume, take, or give a particular toy, or move the crate/safe space to a different spot.  If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, this will also build your dog’s confidence that you will come back even if you leave them in a new place.

Treating Your Dog’s Anxiety

Traveling with a dog that stresses out easily can be difficult, even with all the tips covered above. Luckily, there are many ways that you can help your dog if they suffer from anxiety. If they suffer from severe anxiety, you may need to consider giving them medications or supplements to help treat their condition.

scared dog laying down with ears back

*Always consult your veterinarian before you start any over-the-counter treatments. They are also a great source of information if you choose to treat your pet with prescription medications.

For instance, CBD is a useful tool that helps many pups (and people) cope with stress. It has become incredibly popular and increasingly easy to get. Please do your research and only buy from reputable companies. If your dog is on any medications, it is incredibly important to research how they may interact with each other. CBD can slow down the absorption of some medications like prednisone or phenobarbital which can lead to these drugs building up in their bloodstreams and increasing their risk of side effects. Currently, most of our dogs are on medications that interact with CBD so they no longer get it.

Adaptil is another great over-the-counter product that we have found helpful on our vacations. You can buy collars, room diffusers, or a spray for more targeted areas like your car. Our dog Kiara gets anxious on car rides, and we can definitely tell a difference when we use the travel spray on road trips. The main downside to it is that you do need to remember to spray it about 15 minutes before you get in the car which can be hard to do in the craziness of leaving on a vacation.

You (and Your Dog) Can Do This!

I love traveling with my dogs, but I also hate traveling to a new place and missing out on some really cool not-pet friendly outings. As our pups have gotten older and need more breaks and less hiking, we have started booking more dog-friendly hotels and pet-friendly private vacation rental stays than taking them camping. This has allowed us the freedom of being able to leave them alone in these new places so we can explore places where they aren’t allowed. I hope these tips show you that you can do the same. You can have the best of both worlds on vacation! Bring your pets along AND still do the thing that you want to do.

Pin For Later:

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Still on the fence about planning a dog-friendly vacation? Check out our post about why you should bring your dog on your next trip!

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About Author

Animal and wildlife enthusiast that currently owns four dogs, loves to travel, and try new things while saving as much money as possible!

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