How to travel with your dog

How to travel with your dog

Animal-friendly hotels, pet passports and airline regulations. Plus, travel advice from the dog whisperer himself, Cesar Millan

dog passportDon't deprive your dog of the opportunity to dress up in tacky tourist outfits. Take him on holiday with you. At the five-star Fairmont Whistler Hotel in British Columbia, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers and even German shepherds can be seen strutting through the hallways with their owners. 

Out the hotel's back entrance, stainless steel dog bowls filled with fresh water are set out to rehydrate tired pets returning from brisk walks in the mountain air. 

Long gone are the days when pet owners were banished to grim roadside motels with their contraband canines.

Thanks to a surge in the number of pet-friendly hotels, airlines with pet-friendly policies and pet immigration guidelines to facilitate international travel, more people than ever are taking their dogs overseas with them. 

“I travel with my dog everywhere," says TV's “Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Millan. "It’s the right thing to do. In Mexico, we went to the market -- dogs follow. Went to school -- dogs follow."

He adds that being able to fly with them is a chance no one should pass up.

More on CNN: Cesar Millan brings his dog whispering skills to Singapore 

Who to fly with

flying with dogsFrankfurt International's Animal Lounge covers 3,750 square meters and combines handling, animal coordination and veterinary services. Website Petfriendlytravel.com has an extensive round up of global airlines and their policies on pets.  

Among the most pet-friendly of the pack is Virgin Atlantic, with its Flying Paws plan that gives pets their very own reward scheme.

Sorry, no free flights though. Pets collect "paw prints," which can be redeemed for gifts like Burberry, Prada and Gucci pet clothing.

More on CNN: An intimate conversation with Boo, the world's cutest canine traveler 

Fancy dress delights aside, pet owners do need to pay attention to the small print when booking flights for their animals. 

For instance, Air France says some pets are accepted in the aircraft cabin and in the aircraft hold. But "dogs of the following breeds cannot be transported on any Air France flights, including by freight: Staffordshire terrier, mastiff (boerbull), tosa, pitbull. Ferrets and polecats can only travel by freight. Parrots must be transported by cargo." 

Singapore Airlines requires that your pet has a certificate of good health but does not allow pets to travel in the cabin of the aircraft.

Most North American airlines, however, do let small pets travel in the cabin with you on  flights -- fees can be steep, while some only allow domestic travel -- provided you let them know at the time of booking. 

“Pets traveling in the cabin require a reservation to ensure no more than seven pets are booked on any single flight," says American Airlines. 

Get that dog a passport

flying with petsBefore you fly overseas, make sure your dog has the necessary paperwork specific to your destination's immigration laws. So you've found an airline that will accommodate you and your pooch. Next comes the hard part. Red tape.

Pet immigration laws are specific to each country, but one way to cut down on some of the headaches is to create a pet passport, which is "a collection of all identifying and required documents for entering a given country," advises Pettravel.com

A pet passport is an essential part of the Pet Travel Scheme ("PETS"), a system that allows animals to travel into the United Kingdom without undergoing quarantine if all the regulations are followed.

It was originally introduced in 2001 for animals entering or returning to the UK from other European Union countries, but has since rolled out to other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Pettravel.com has a full list of country-specific pet immigration rules, with an option to purchase the necessary forms online. 

More on CNN: Shanghai, China's most dog-friendly city

'Like training for a marathon' 

dog flyingGive your dog time to get used to its crate before you fly, say travel experts. Next step: pee control. 

Though probably a little easier than flying with kids, heading out on an epic journey with your dog isn't as simple as throwing it into a pet carrier and taking off, says Millan.

You need to prepare them for the long journey and let them get used to their carrier.   

"Don’t just put them in a crate the day before. It should be a transition," he says. "You have to teach your dog to hold its bladder -- it's almost like training for a marathon.

"Go through the process before you fly. For example, flying from Los Angeles to Spain is 14 hours. So I conditioned Julio and rest of my dogs to gradually be able to wait two, four, six, eight hours." 

Before you buy a pet crate, check out the International Air Transport Association's list of pet carrier requirements, which most airlines adhere to.  

More on CNN: Photos from the 2012 Taipei Pet Show, where it's better to be dog than human

Finding a hotel

The uptrend in people traveling with pets isn't reserved to the West. Dog owners in Asia are also keen to let their pets tag along on holiday with them, though hotels are slower to adapt to the trend than in North America or Europe.

Kasama Nontamit, Bangkok-based vice president of distribution strategy for an international insurance company, often takes her tiny Maltese Baileys with her whenever she travels. (Thai Airways allows some dogs in the cabin.) 

The challenge, however, is finding accommodations that will take her. 

"If we want to take Baileys with us, we definitely call the hotel first or search on the Internet for one that allows pets," she says. "Most of the four- and five-star hotels in Thailand don't allow dogs, no matter how cute and tiny they are." 

One of the best resources for people looking to travel overseas with their pets is Bringfido.com, which has a global database of pet-friendly hotels -- Thailand included.

Just click on the continent and the country you wish to visit. A list of cities with pet-friendly hotels will appear. 

Though North America has hundreds of hotels that accept dogs, some charge extra for pets while others have size limits.  

Couch surfing for pets or a luxury dog hotel?

dog hotelsD Pet Hotel Chelsea offers a fitness center, private chef and a suite for US$200 a night. There are of course those times when man's best friend can't tag along. Kennels are the obvious solution, but there are plenty of other options. 

DogVacay.com lets people look up hosts in their area who will care for your dog in their own home. A doggy version of Airbnb or CouchSurfing.org, it costs an average of US$25-30 a day.

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"For a dog lover to host on DogVacay.com they must complete an extensive online application, which our staff of experts manually reviews and approves," says the website.

You could always send your dog on its own luxury holiday. From Melbourne to London, pet hotels are popping up in cities around the world. 

One pet hotel that just opened in New York's Chelsea neighborhood aims to give dogs the same experiences a holidaying human gets. Maybe even better.

Part of the D Pet Hotels chain (there are already properties in pampered pooch capital Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Arizona), your dog will sleep in a double bed, watch movies on a flat-screen TV ("Lassie" or "Beethoven" anyone?), dine on gourmet dog goodies, spend hours in the spa and run on a treadmill.

Tokyo's Narita Airport has its own pet hotel, Pet Inn Royal, where travelers can drop off their animals before they take off on holiday. 

Mentally prepare your dog 

If you do have to leave your dog behind, don't worry about separation anxiety. Cesar Millan says that with proper training your pet can handle the time apart -- even if you can't.

But it's also an issue that needs to be worked out if you're traveling with your dog, as there will be times you want to leave it in the hotel room without having to worry about it barking and clawing at the door or chewing things up when you're out.  

flying with petsBaileys the Maltese waits to check in for her flight at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport. "Separation anxiety is created by humans because they feel closer to the dog the more they bond. That’s not realistic for the dog, which doesn’t understand." 

“I have to help people and show them how we create separation anxiety. In Mexico, a dog is not allowed in the intimate space. We don’t have a living room. Dog lives outside. Detached from humans.

"In America, a dog lives on top of the human. The human goes to work, the dog doesn’t know how to separate from them. It’s easy to rehabilitate, but you have to understand the concept of proximity for training to work.

"It's not good to let your dog follow you everywhere. Tell them when they can be near you, then tell them to go away," suggests Millan as a method of lessening your dog's attachment to you.  

Frequent traveler Kasama agrees that making sure your dog is well behaved is the key to an enjoyable holiday.  

"You have to be very responsible and considerate for others as well -- especially when in public areas or using public transportation," she says.

"The pets need to be trained and controllable." 

Pet travel resources

Petside.com

Dogfriendly.com

Pettravel.com

Bringfido.com

IATA Traveller's Pet Corner

Cesarsway.com

Do you take your dog with you on holiday? Share you travel tips in the comments box below.

Karla is a digital producer with CNN Travel based in Bangkok, Thailand. 

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