Traveling with Poodles: Tips for a Successful Trip by Car, Plane, or Sea

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Poodles" by Tarah Schwartz. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: Tarah Schwartz

Dog Carriers and Car Restraints

Traveling with your Poodle can be a wonderful experience for both of you, but it’s important to take some time to consider your safety options. An unrestrained dog in the car is not only a danger to himself but also to everyone else in the car and on the road. If your dog does not have a solid recall, there’s also a chance he could escape during an accident or simply when you open the car door. A dog who is an inexperienced travel can become panicked or carsick, distracting you from the road. Using a safety device will allow you to focus on driving without having to worry about your dog. There are many different options available, so you may want to try a few different methods to see which one works best for you and your dog.

Booster Seats

Poodle in pond
Photo Courtesy – Jasper Roam

For the smaller varieties of Poodle, a booster seat is an excellent option for traveling in a car. Booster seats are typically made of firm foam or plastic and can be attached to your car’s seat with the seat belt. These seats will elevate your dog enough that he can see out the car window but he will be safely restrained, with his harness clipped to the seat. Some dogs feel more comfortable when they are able to see what is happening around them, so it may help your dog settle down in the car. If you dog is easily overwhelmed, he may prefer a different method of restraint. These seats are usually quite small and typically don’t work well with Standard Poodles.

Kennels and Crates

Kennels are one of the most popular choices for Poodles of all sizes. You have the option of metal, plastic, or mesh fabric crates. Some crates are made specifically for use in cars, but some owners just use their dog’s regular plastic or wire crate. Travel can be an exciting and potentially overwhelming experience, especially for puppies, but dogs who have been properly crate trained may find comfort and a sense of security in their kennel. Crates also keep the dog safely contained should you have an accident. If your dog is prone to carsickness, crates are also an excellent way to contain the mess, making it easier to clean up after you arrive at your destination.

Doggy Seat Belts

Miniature poodle
Photo Courtesy – Kamesha Riggs

If your Poodle is most comfortable riding in the car without the confines of a kennel, a seat belt might be your best option. Doggy seat belts are typically just a short leash that attaches to your car’s seat the same way a regular seat belt would. The other end of the leash attaches to your dog’s harness. The leashes are usually long enough to give the dog enough space to stand up and turn around, but not enough that he can jump into the front seat or out an open window. When using a seat belt, remember to always attach the leash to your dog’s harness, not his collar. Should you get into an accident or even just slam on the brakes, your dog could be badly injured or killed by the sudden pressure from the collar. A harness will distribute that pressure evenly, reducing the chances that your dog could become injured.

Preparing Your Poodle for Car Rides

Before you take your Poodle for his first road trip, you need to consider his prior experience with traveling and evaluate how you should prepare him. If he has ridden in the car in the past, you should have some idea of how comfortable he is with it. If he hasn’t traveled with you much, you may need to spend some extra time getting him ready for a long car trip. Dogs who are inexperienced travelers often become carsick, especially if the road has a lot of winding turns or elevation changes. If you think your dog could become carsick, you need to prepare accordingly. Bringing a few towels or extra blankets, along with a plastic bag will help with cleanup if necessary. Lining your dog’s kennel with washable blankets or even disposable puppy pads will also help. If your dog is traveling in a seat belt, consider investing in a waterproof seat cover. They are a great option for keeping your car clean.

Eating, Drinking, and Potty Breaks

Standard poodle in boat
Photo Courtesy – Karen Gallo

Before traveling, consider limiting your dog’s food and water intake, especially if he is prone to carsickness. Taking away your dog’s food and water an hour or two before departure will also allow you to drive further before stopping for a break. Depending on how far you are driving and how old your Poodle is, you will likely need to stop for a bathroom break every few hours. Young puppies should be kept to the same house-training schedule that you use at home. You shouldn’t withhold water from your dog for the entire drive, but giving water in the car can be messy, so try giving your dog small drinks of water every time you stop for a bathroom break. This will be enough to keep him hydrated but will help limit any accidents or carsickness due to a full stomach.

Pack for You AND Your Poodle

Depending on how long you are staying away from home, you’ll want to make sure you bring your Poodle’s usual supplies. Travel can be stressful for a dog, especially one with limited travel experience, so it’s important to keep using the same products you use at home. Bring your dog’s normal bed or blankets if possible, and any toys that might give him comfort. Be sure to feed him the same food he normally eats to avoid any upset stomach. Try to stick to the same feeding schedule you have at home, if possible. The more familiarities you can include on your trip, the more comfortable your Poodle will be on his first road trip.

Flying and Hotel Stays

Flying with a dog can be a complicated, stressful, and expensive experience, but the joy of having your Poodle with you on vacation can make it worth your while. Whether you’re flying domestic or international, check to make sure your dog is up-to-date on all of his core vaccines. Make sure your destination does not have any specific requirements such as deworming or a rabies titer. Ask your vet about whether you’ll need a health certificate. This is generally just a statement from your veterinarian that explains that your dog is healthy enough for air travel. You’ll want to get a paper copy of all of your dog’s health records to keep with you as well as a copy to keep with your dog and his crate. You should also notify your airline that you’ll be traveling with a dog. Most airlines charge a small fee, so you’ll need to ask whether you pay this before your flight or when you get to the airport. Preflight preparation can be one of the most stressful aspects of air travel with a dog, so make sure you’ve completed all of the necessary paperwork before flying.

Poodle hiking
Photo Courtesy – Marc L

If you have a small Poodle, such as a Toy or a smaller Miniature, you may be able to fly with him in the cabin. However, larger dogs must fly in the plane’s cargo hold, so Standard Poodles, and possibly larger Miniature Poodles will likely fly this way. If your dog is traveling in cabin, he will need to travel in an airline-approved carrier. Check with your specific airline in advance to make sure your carrier is the right size and type. Most airlines recommend soft-sided carriers for in-cabin travel. If your larger Poodle is traveling in the cargo hold, he will also need to fly in an airline-approved carrier, but it will need to be a sturdy plastic or metal crate. Before you fly, make sure your dog is comfortable spending time in his travel crate or carrier. Have him spend time in the crate at home, or even take him for a short car trip in it. As with regular crate training, you want to be patient with this process. You’ll need to start getting your dog used to his carrier several weeks before your trip.

If you plan on staying in a hotel with your Poodle once you’ve reached your destination, make sure you’re staying in pet-friendly accommodations. Some hotels do not allow dogs, while others will set up a bed, food and water bowls, and even treats, so do some research to make sure you’re staying somewhere that will welcome your Poodle. Depending on the individual hotel, there may be a small fee for allowing your dog to stay. This fee is typically less than $50 per night, but if you’re traveling on a budget this can be an unfortunate surprise. Some hotels also have weight restrictions on the pets that stay there, so if you’re traveling with a Standard Poodle, you should ask about this when you make your reservation. Most importantly, make sure you’ve done your homework with training and socializing your dog. Even pet-friendly hotels will be displeased if you bring in a dog that is barking excessively or lunging at other guests. You want to make sure that you and your dog are respectful guests that will be welcomed back at any hotel.

Kenneling vs. Dog Sitters

Even if you usually travel with your Poodle, there may be an occasion where you need to leave him at home. In this case, it’s important to find a boarding kennel or dog sitter who can be trusted to care for your precious pet in your absence. Depending on your area, you may find a range of boarding kennels and pet sitters. Some facilities are relatively simple, while others may offer all the comforts of home. The prices of such facilities will likely reflect the level of service they offer. Some boarding kennels keep the dogs comfortable in their kennels with bathroom breaks every few hours, while others may be entirely cage-free and staffed 24/7. In the latter case, the dogs are typically kept as a group and allowed to interact around the clock. If you think your dog would prefer a homier environment, consider hiring a pet sitter. Sitters will typically either stay at your home while you’re gone or keep your dog in their own home. Consider your Poodle’s personality and preferences when deciding which option to go with.

Depending on the area in which you live and your budget, you may have a few different options for boarding kennels. The cheaper options will usually keep your dog in a cage or kennel, usually with a separate run. If you have multiple dogs, they may be able to stay together if the facility allows and your dogs get along. Higher-end facilities will have more options available to you. They may offer luxuries such as elevated beds, television, and individual or group playtime. They may also be staffed around the clock, allowing the dogs to spend their time together as a group rather than in cages. Before committing to a boarding kennel, consider your dog’s personality and what options he would be happiest with. Outgoing, gregarious Poodles will be so happy to play in a group that they may forget that you’ve left them behind on your travels. More timid Poodles may find the experience stressful and they may need quieter arrangements to keep them happy in your absence. Many boarding kennels also offer a trial day to make sure that your dog will be happy, so if you aren’t sure how your dog will do, it’s a good opportunity to find out.

Dog sitters are a great option for timid dogs or those who are easily stressed by change. This option allows them to stay in the comfort of their own homes, or the comfort of someone else’s home, rather than in a kennel or cage. Pet-sitting companies can be found across the country and will provide you with a qualified and trustworthy pet sitter to stay in your home until you return. Self-employed sitters can also be found, who may take your dog into their own home. Pet sitters are also a great idea if you have other pets that need to be taken care of or plants that need to be watered. Many sitters are also happy to do small household chores like bringing in the mail or watering your garden. Their presence can also discourage potential thieves. Qualified pet sitters can be more expensive than traditional boarding kennels, but their exact price will vary based on location and the services they offer. Some pet sitters offer discounted rates for longer stays, as well.

If you choose to drop your dog off at either a boarding kennel or a pet sitter’s home, remember to provide enough food for the entire time that you’ll be gone, plus a little extra in case your return is delayed. It’s also a good idea to check with the kennel staff or sitter to see what items you are allowed or encouraged to bring. Some places encourage boarders to bring blankets or toys from home, while others don’t want to be responsible for any damage, so they provide their own. Whatever you bring with your dog, remember to label each and every item and keep a list of what you’ve left with your Poodle. This will help ensure that you come home with everything that you dropped off with your dog.

Tips and Tricks for Traveling

Traveling with your Poodle can be an exciting and rewarding experience if done properly. Terri L. Creech of Bear Cove Standard Poodles says, “Poodles are excellent traveling buddies. They love being with their people and seeing new things.” Spending vacation time together with your Poodle and experiencing new things will help strengthen your bond and broaden your dog’s horizons. However, you need to prepare yourself and your dog for your adventures. Making sure that your dog has a basic understanding of obedience commands and is relatively well socialized will help your trip go more smoothly. An under-socialized and untrained dog will be a nightmare to travel with and you will likely leave a bad impression on any hotel or airport staff.


Remember to bring all of your dog’s necessary items, including medical information. It can help to write down a list in the weeks before your trip, so you don’t forget anything at the last minute. You should bring enough food for the duration of your trip, as well as a little extra in case anything should delay your return. If your dog is more comfortable traveling with his own bed, blanket, or toys, be sure to include those on your list. Your dog’s leash, collar, kennel, or seat belt will also be necessities. Don’t forget to bring copies of your Poodle’s vaccination information as well. You may not need this information, but if you do, you’ll be happy you brought it along. It may also be helpful to keep your vet’s contact information on hand. Some Poodle owners also choose to research vets in the city that they’re traveling to, in case anything should happen. So much preparation before your trip can seem overwhelming, but embarking on a trip you haven’t prepared for will be much more stressful. Make sure you’ve done everything you can to prepare your Poodle and your family for your trip together and you’re sure to have the best trip possible.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Poodles" by Tarah Schwartz, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

Ready, Set, Puppy! Is a participant in the Amazon affiliate program and thus receives a small commission from sales generated from certain links on this page. To read more click here.