An Assistance Dog (or Service Dog) can make travel more achievable – but if you’re travelling by taxi, train or car, there’s a few things which may make the journey more comfortable and fun for both of you. Codee and her Service Dog, Don, share their tips.
14 Tips for Travelling with a Service Dog
- Keep your Service Dog legitimization pass on you at all times. You never know when someone might challenge your dog’s status as a Service Dog.
- Check whether or not you need to bring your dog’s passport. This contains information about his vaccinations. Some places such as a hospital might ask for proof that they’re up to date.
- A harness or vest with clear service dog labels prevents distractions and awkward discussions.
- Bring a bottle of water. On a long trip or hot day your dog will appreciate it. You can buy a travel bottle with detachable water tray from most good pet stores.
- If you know you won’t be home at your dog’s normal dinner time, bring his meal with you. You can buy a collapsible bowl for dinner time on the go.
- Bring a chew toy or bone. If you’re visiting a friend, or even if you expect your dog to be quiet during a theater performance, giving them something to chew on can prevent boredom and unwanted behaviour.
- Check the rules for travelling with your dog in a car. While in many countries your dog can hang out in the back seat, in some countries he’s required by law to wear a harness and doggy seatbelt.
- A leash shouldn’t always be attached to the collar. I learned that my dog falls asleep and consequently slides on the shiny floor of the taxi-bus when brakes are applied. Attaching the leash to his harness can prevent dangerous neck injuries due to the leash being pulled too hard during travel.
- Trains with people getting in and out can be extremely distracting for your dog. Try not to sit too close to a door whenever possible.
- Train your dog to relieve themselves on command. My dog is good at doing this, which means I can ask him to relieve himself in appropriate places. Cleaning up poop in the middle of a busy city isn’t fun. Also having him relieve himself before a long journey in the car or train makes him more relaxed and comfortable.
- If travelling on a flight in Australia with a Service Dog you will need to provide the airline with specific information at the time of booking. It’s best to check with the airline direct but expect they will require as a minimum – the name of the handler, the name of the Service Dog, weight of the dog, length of the dog measured from neck to tailbone and name of training organization (e.g. Guide Dogs NSW).
- Some airlines will require you to book a minimum of 14 days in advance.
- Although many airlines provide an absorbent mat it’s wise to travel with your own.
- Rules regarding Service Dogs and zoos varies greatly. Some zoos will not permit entry of a Service Dog due to quarantine regulations and others have restricted access. As an example, Taronga Zoo will care for your animal at the Wildlife Hospital if you make prior arrangements by phoning (02) 9978 4785 but do not allow the Service Dog within the zoo. Zoos Victoria welcome visitors with assistance animals (such as guide dogs) that have completed their training and are certified by a registered authority but ask you to bring your certification I.D. with you. They do state that at each of their zoos there are identified exhibits and areas where assistance animals will not be permitted.
Please note each state and territory in Australia has its own legislation regarding service dogs so it’s recommended you check their specific guidelines.