Over the river and through the woods...and making gremlin noises all the way.
Our pugs make the cutest (and slightly annoying sometimes) hums whenever they’re in the car. They’re nervous travellers and have a tough time settling down for at least a while on the road.
There’s no doubt that pugs are happiest when they’re right by your side, so if you’re traveling to visit friends and family during the holidays, there are plenty of ways to ensure travel is safe and smooth for your little buddy.
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1. Check the Dog-Friendliness of Your Destination
The NUMBER ONE rule when traveling with your pug or any pet is to checkout the dog-friendliness of your destination WAY beforehand. Even if you’re only going to Grandma’s house it’s always best to clear your visitor with all parties before you get there.
What happens if Uncle Steve is allergic to dogs? Your pug can’t sit in a cold (or heaven forbid hot) car--ever. You need to make sure your host knows you’re bringing your pug and your baby is welcome.
Check on the dog-friendliness of any resident pets as well. Pugs have a lot of personality and not every feline or other dog will be thrilled to welcome them. The holidays are often distressing for resident pets (changes in decoration, people coming and going) so bringing in another animal is a lot to deal with--expect accidents and make sure your host is okay with that.
2. Do Some Reconnaissance Work
If you’re taking your pug to a new town, you’re going to want to do some research beforehand. At minimum, have the number of the local emergency vet. The holidays offer many opportunities to get into trouble. Keep emergencies at bay, by knowing what to do should any issues arise.
You may also want to check out other factors about your destination. Is there a dog cafe or dog park nearby, where you and your pug could blow off some steam? Are there places to walk (and poo)? A country pug in the city or city pug in the country might face a few adjustments to their routine.
It’s always good to check out local pet stores in the area as well. You never know when you might need supplies and you don’t want to spend your vacation wandering around looking for a water dish or poop bags. Also, check out other pug-friendly stops on your trip. Dog-friendly.com offers guides and information on destinations with activities from seeing the sites to dog-friendly beaches and parks.
3. Choose Your Travel Method
Planes, trains and automobiles. Once you’ve planned your destination, you’ll need a method to get you there. Most public transportation is pet-friendly (within reason) but almost all methods of transport require some preplanning and may charge an extra fee.
Even bigger dogs will require a carrier if you plan to travel via plane, train or bus. Fortunately, with pugs clocking in around 20 pounds, finding a carrier isn’t too tough. Look for a soft-sided carrier that will fit under seats and within transportation guidelines. Look for something sturdy such as this from Go Petz.
Check with any hubs to plan for potty and food breaks. Some airports and train stations offer more amenities than others. Always pick the shortest, most direct transportation method possible if you have the option.
4. Keep Your Pug Safe in the Car
Car travel is ideal for pugs (more on air travel coming up). Most pugs adjust to car trips fairly quickly and will calm down and sleep after some initial excitement. To protect your pug in the car, you’ll need a car-approved harness. This Sleepypod Clickit Harness is crash-tested and our pick for the ultimate car safety.
Another option is a car seat. There are many car seat protectors and boosters on the market, but very few are crash-tested. The PupSaver is one car seat option that locks your pug safely in place and will ensure their safety in an accident.
It can be tempting to let your pug run free in the car, or ride shotgun simply snapped into a seat belt with their harness. Unfortunately, pugs’ thin legs may break or be hurt with a sudden stop. Your needy baby will distract you from driving and could fly out of your arms or be crushed in an accident. Pugs should always ride secured in the backseat, either in a harness, safety seat or in their crate. (It goes without saying that no dog should ever ride in the back of a truck.)
5. Plan Air Travel in Advance
Want your pug to get his wings? Pugs are fairly good air-travelers but there are few things you need to know before flying with your pug. First, not all airlines allow dogs, so always check with your carrier to see if your pug is welcome. There will be a fee for your pug (usually between $50-$150).
Secondly, because pugs fall into the brachycephalic category (flat-faced, breathing struggles) they can never ever fly in the cargo area of a plane. They must fly cabin-only. Many airlines won’t even allow brachycephalic dogs in the cargo area, because it’s such a high liability, but even if your airline allows it, don’t do it!
Lastly, many airlines will only allow animals under 20-25 pounds to fly in cabin. Pugs usually fall into the right weight category, but if your pug is on the borderline you may want to make other plans. You may be stranded with no recourse if your chubby puppy can’t make weight (or packs on a few pounds at grandma’s). Also, check with your airline on exact carrier dimensions. They will vary by airline and just because a carrier says “airline approved” doesn’t mean your airline will accept it. The good news is, once you’ve passed all restrictions, your pug will probably sleep like a baby (or hum like a quiet gremlin) during the flight.
6. Bring a Crate and Gate
No matter where you’re going with your pug, you’ll want to bring a crate or carrier and a gate or playpen. We use the Parkland Pet Portable Playpen. It folds flat for easy carrying and allows pets to chill nearby. Don’t forget blankies and favorite stuffies to bring comfort in unfamiliar places.
For the last five years our two bigger pug boys have slept in their Pet Gear Steel Crates. They love them, because they can see out all sides and they’re big enough to move around in, but cozy enough they feel safe. In fact, they literally run to their crate when it’s time for bed because they’re so excited! We love these crates because they fold down flat and fit in the car easily. They set up without a problem and are great for travel.
A portable baby gate can also be very helpful for travel. Look for one that won’t leave marks on your hosts’ walls. Or purchase some wall cups to protect the door frame. If you need to leave for a while, or your pug needs some quiet time, crate or gate them in a small area. Dogs feel safer in a small space and generally speaking won’t be as prone to accidents if they’re hanging out in their travel “den.” That said, plan plenty of extra walks and bring some puppy pads to put down just in case.
7. Ensure Your Pug is Microchipped and Tagged
Whenever you’re traveling with your pug, be sure they’re wearing tags with your current phone number and contact information. Your pug should also be microchipped, which you can have done at your vet or local animal control facility.
The holidays are busy and can be confusing for pets. There are people, noises and chaos going on. Your pug might inadvertently get outside or sneak out through an open door or gate. If the worst happens, you’ll want to know your pug can be found quickly. Even if you usually remove their harness when they’re indoors, keep it on them when they’re in a strange location.
If you visit a dog park or other destination, you’ll want to check to be sure you don’t need a license or temporary permit for your pug to play. Use caution when visiting unfamiliar locations and approaching new dogs. The labrador at the park may look just like Bailey from down the street, but may not be nearly as friendly with pugs.
8. Keep Your Pug on a Leash
Allow your pug to explore their new digs on a leash with you by their side. It’s tempting to take them off leash for some activities, but keep your pug as safe as possible by leaving them tethered. Think of it as holding their hand when you go out.
If you want to keep a handle on your pugs during parties and social time, the leash is your best bet, especially as their getting the lay of the land. Allow them to explore with you by their side and keep them leashed so Aunt Suzie doesn’t feed them chocolate chip cookies, or to ensure they aren’t stealing kid’s toys or chewing dad’s slippers.
Your pug loves to be right next to you. Most pugs act like little shadows most of the time. So keeping them leashed around your wrist isn’t much of a change. It just ensures you’ll keep track of them at all times. Our small blind pug, Pee Wee, fits right in a carrier. We use the Outward Hound Pooch Pouch wherever we go.
9. Hydrate Don’t Die-Drate
Whenever you travel, be sure to bring plenty of water for your pug. Pugs need to be able to drink regularly and when things are confusing their hydration may suffer. Bring along a collapsible water dish wherever you go--you should even store one in your car for emergencies.
If your pug has a sensitive tummy, you might notice they have some GI distress when you’re away from home. One factor, we often forget, is strange water. If your pug isn’t used to well water they might experience some tummy issues when you’re out of town. They may also get sick if they drink out of ponds, streams or even puddles.
Keep everyone healthy and tummy ache-free by packing a few bottles of water from home or buy regular bottled water on the road. Bottled water might not be extra-special mountain spring water (most are simply filled at bottling plants) but it won’t have strange PH levels, extra minerals and other issues that tap water can have.
10. Don’t Forget the Snackies (like Your Pug Would Let You)
Of course you’ll want to bring PLENTY of snackies whenever you travel. Bring your pugs normal food for meals. You may also want to carry some high-value small treats with you. We use the Outward Hound Kyjen which is perfect for when you're on the go, or just a simple pouch or container would work too. This will keep your dog's attention fixed on you at all times and can work in case you need to bribe them for some good behavior.
Don’t be surprised if your pug eats a little less when he’s on vacation. Sometimes a strange destination can be stressful for your pug and they might not feel like their normal voracious self. They will get their appetite back when they return to their routine.
Avoid giving too many treats to your pug on vacation. The combination of new foods, treats and travel can lead to a lot of stomach distress. Instead, stick with their familiar meals at regular times and portions.
Travelling with your pug isn’t stressful, it simply requires a little bit of planning to run smoothly. Enjoy the holidays WITH your pug, while keeping everyone healthy and happy this season!