How to Travel With a Dog Without a Car

If you do not have a car or you do not drive all the time, then raising a dog might seem like an impossible responsibility.

How can you transport a dog from one place to another without a car? It might be challenging, but it’s not as difficult as it seems.

We explain why dog ownership sometimes requires a car and how to travel with your dog without one. We provide advice for safe commuting with your dog on short trips.

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Travel with a dog without a car

Can You Travel with Your Dog Without a Car?

Yes, but it’s more difficult.

When traveling in your local area, a car is the best way to get your dog from one place to another.

For instance, trips to the vet or store can be easier if you have a car. That’s because the subway, buses, and cabs may have restrictions on dogs.

Even cross-country drives are not easy if you don’t have a car. Some car rentals do not allow dog passengers, while others have additional fees.

If by travel you mean international trips, then you can definitely travel without a car because you’ll likely be taking a plane or ship with your pup.

Why Dog Ownership Sometimes Requires a Car

Especially if you have a puppy, it can be difficult to attend to their needs if you do not have a car.

Say you’re visiting your family in another city. Does your city bus or train allow dogs? 

If yes, then you’re lucky. Check which dog breeds are allowed and if you will be needing a carrier. 

If not, then you’ll have to check your local car rental policies. 

It takes a bit of planning when you have to bring your dog to events, but even your dog’s daily needs may require a car.

Puppies need to be exercised, trained, and socialized at a young age. How can you achieve this when many dog destinations are inaccessible on foot?

Trips to dog parks, hiking trails, doggie daycare, training facilities are sometimes impractical to access by walking. 

You’re often left with no choice but to get a car.

Transport a dog without a car

Traveling by Airplane with a Dog

If you’re planning to travel by plane with your dog, then you have a lot of preparations to make. 

Before the Flight with Your Dog

You will most likely need a health certificate from your vet which you will present at the airport. Your destination may have regulations regarding pet vaccinations as well.

Check the airport’s policies to know what to expect. 

For instance, some airlines don’t allow your dog to be with you in the cabin. They will be staying in the cargo section instead. Bringing your dog to Europe will also require a pet passport.

Take note that the temperature in the cargo area is not well-regulated. 

If you’re flying in the summer, book a flight in the afternoon or evening. If you’re doing it in the winter, do it during midday so your pup stays warm. 

Your crate also must meet regulations for the flight, so pick one in advance instead of rushing to buy at the last minute.

Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel, 28", for Dogs 20-30 Lbs, Model Number: 41300

We recommend Aspen Pet Traditional Kennel. It’s made specifically for flying since it provides a simple construction and ample ventilation.

The crate also features durable materials like plastic and metal wiring to keep your dog secure inside.

Make sure your dog is trained to behave well in their crate to reduce stress. 

During the Flight with Your Dog

On the day of the flight, you have to make sure that your dog is wearing a tag that displays their residence information and destination.

Feed your dog five hours before the flight so they don’t feel sick on the plane.

Double-check their ticket to see if the information on their ticket is the same as yours. 

Make sure to include dog food and water in the container to avoid hunger and thirst. 

You may try attaching a feeding schedule or other information on their carrier in case anything happens.

Traveling by Ship with a Dog

Pets are rarely welcome on cruise ships unless you have an assistance dog. 

Some allow dogs in private cabins, but others will ask you to confine your pooch to kennels. 

As with airlines, do your research on your cruise line or contact them in advance to check which ships have kennel facilities.

The Cunard Line has only one major cruise ship that allows pets on board, and that is the Queen Mary 2. 

However, certain dog breeds like the Afghan Hound, Bloodhound, Gordon Setter, Greyhound, Mastiff, and Doberman are not allowed.

Before cruising with your dog, you also need all kinds of paperwork such as a pet passport, health certificate, and proof of vaccination. 

They may also require documents about your dog’s tapeworm treatment. 

This video shows dog kennels aboard the Queen Mary 2.

Traveling by Train with a Dog

Long-distance train travels in the USA are also possible for you and your dog, especially at Amtrak. 

Amtrak allows small pets up to 20 pounds on most routes for trips that last up to 7 hours.

But you must make a reservation as early as possible since there is a limit of only five dogs per train, not including service dogs. 

On the other hand, Europe allows dogs inside trains if they are in carriers. Even large breed dogs are welcome, although they usually cost more. 

Traveling in the City with a Dog if You Don’t Have a Car

If you are traveling only within your city, then you have plenty of transportation options for your dog even without having a car.

Public Transport

Subways are typically the cheapest form of public transportation in different states. They are also the fastest and the easiest way to travel around the city.

While not all subways in the US allow dogs, most are okay with it as long as you put your dog in a carrier.

Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier, Small (14 x 9 x 9 Inches), Black

You can try the Amazon Basics’ Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier. It comes in three sizes to fit your furry friend inside no matter the breed.

To make carrying easier, the bag has an adjustable shoulder strap and a removable fleece pad.

The American Kennel Club has a list of cities that allow dogs in public transport.

They also note that your dog has to be well-socialized before taking the subway. They also have to be up-to-date with their immunizations and vaccines.

Bus regulations also vary across states, although the rules are more relaxed than on trains.

Cab or Uber

You can take a cab or an Uber without worrying about your dog, although you must inform the diver in advance.

While there are no strict rules offered by Uber in terms of pets, some drivers are allergic or simply don’t want dogs inside the car.

Pet taxis exist in some states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey in case of an emergency. These are legitimate ambulances that can help in case of accidents.

If you need a vehicle on the spot and you have a driver’s license, certain companies offer by-the-hour car rentals. But check in advance if the provider allows pets.

If your dog needs oxygen on the way to the vet, vet-provided ambulances can help. They are even covered by pet insurance.

Cycling with Your Dog

Cycling is a fun way to exercise your dog. If they are small enough, you can let them sit in a basket attached to your bike.

If not, you can walk them while you ride. But large dogs often have problems with their joints, so avoid hard surfaces and don’t make the trip too long. 

Cycling with your dog in traffic is allowed as long as you keep your dog safe, and you observe the laws of your state. 

You should also not ride a bike with your dog until they have completed their growth phase at around 1 and a half years old. 

Avoid riding too fast when you have a dog with you. Start by riding shorter distances and gradually increase without pushing your dog’s physical limits. 

Always keep an eye on the weather when cycling with your four-legged friend. Summertime poses a lot of threats to your dog.

Tips for Commuting with Your Dog

Here are some tips for a safe and easy commute with your dog.

Monitor Their Behavior

Your dog can get anxious in public transportation or become aggressive toward commuters no matter how relaxed and nice they are at home.

Just because they feel comfortable all the time with you doesn’t mean that they feel the same when traveling in unfamiliar places.

Your dog also has to learn boundaries, especially from people who are scared of or allergic to dogs. If you ask your dog to stop approaching a person, they should obey you right away.

Teach your dog to sit by your side during the ride. If you have a smaller pooch, you can let them sit on your lap or in a carrier.

Look for Signs of Motion Sickness

While you’re in public transit with your dog, check if they display signs of motion sickness, such as:

  • lip licking
  • drooling
  • shaking
  • listlessness
  • uneasiness
  • whining
  • vomiting.

Feed your dog two hours or earlier before the commute so they feel less sick. You may also speak to your vet for prevention tips.

You may also give your dog a walk before boarding to avoid accidents on the way.

Bring Dog Travel Essentials

If your dog is finally ready for public transportation, it’s time for you to prepare the items to bring.

Here’s a checklist of what you need:

  • towel
  • dog treats
  • water
  • waste bags
  • pet first-aid kit.
Pet First Aid Kit with LED Safety Collar (Adjustable)

For first-aid kits, we recommend Rayco International’s Pet First-Aid Kit.

It includes medical-grade, lightweight items that will save your dog in case of injuries and accidents.

At 1.15 pounds, it already contains 45 items, such as the following:

  • gauze rolls
  • high elastic bandage
  • self-adhesive bandage
  • gauze pads
  • first-aid tapes
  • metal tweezers
  • saline solution.

Reconsider Crowded Commutes

If your dog cannot fit inside the carrier but the public transit is crowded, then avoid taking them on a bus or train.

This may increase their anxiety, stress, or aggression. It will make them feel like their personal space is being invaded, resulting in them acting out. 

It is important to respect other people on public transit. Don’t travel with your dog if you think they may cause problems.

Public transport with your dog

How to Cater to Your Dog’s Needs without a Car

If you do not have easy access to dog parks, pet depots, training facilities, and hiking trails, here are some ways to attend to their needs.

Walk Them Around the Neighborhood

Most people rely on their backyards to give their dogs exercise when the dog park is too far.

But you can also take them for a walk around the neighborhood if you can’t get to a dog-friendly park.

It’s just as good for their bodies and even better since you can take them home right away if they feel tired quickly.

Make Friends

To socialize with your dog, you should also socialize with your neighbors who have a dog. 

It’s easy to start conversations because you want to interact with people who are also dog owners like you. 

With friends in the neighborhood, you and your dog won’t have to worry about taking trips to the dog park. 

It’s also much more convenient now that they have a buddy who’s just down the street. 

Set a Routine with Your Dog

Most of what your dog needs depends on the routine you provide for them. 

Dogs are creatures of habit. They remain healthy, well-behaved, and happy when they have a routine set for them by their pack leader.

Having a consistent routine with your dog will allow them to know what to expect each day. It’s a simple task that won’t require you to drive somewhere with your dog.

A daily routine should include the following:

  • sleep routine
  • feeding routine
  • toilet routine
  • walking and play routine
  • training and handling consistency.

Train Your Dog at Home

Instead of going to a training facility, you can try teaching your dog yourself.

Start by asserting yourself as the leader of the pack. When they regard you as one, obedience training will be easier.

That’s because a dog who sees you as their pack leader knows how to respect you. 

It follows that they know when to receive food from you, how to walk on the leash properly, how to stop seeking attention, and more.

It’s also easier to train them with basic commands.

Teaching your dog how to see you as the pack leader is based on positive reinforcement techniques and not punishments. This will maintain your healthy and loving relationship.

You can also hire a personal dog trainer who will train your dog at home, so you don’t have to drive or commute anywhere.

FAQ Dogs and Travel

Can I Sedate My Dog Before Traveling?

It’s okay to sedate your dog before traveling if your vet allows it. 

It is usually the last resort if you have tried training them and calling them down in the car but were unsuccessful.

Sedatives are a type of drug that reduces your brain’s activity so that they may stay calm inside the car.

Find out more about dog sedatives before administering them to your dog.

What is the Best Way to Travel with a Dog in a Car?

The best way to travel with your dog in the car is first by first making sure that they are safe inside it.

If your dog likes to move around the car, you might want to consider purchasing a doggy seat belt. You can also provide a hammock for the backseat for a bigger space. 

Once they are guaranteed safe inside, make sure they are happy going on trips. Train them to love car rides through positive reinforcement techniques.

There are many ideal ways to travel with your dog in the car. It’s up to your dog which one is the most comfortable.

What Can I Do with My Dog on Vacation?

If you are on a vacation with your dog, make the most out of it by making sure that the whole trip is dog-friendly.

The most essential part of the vacation is the accommodation. Book a hotel in advance that welcomes dogs and has facilities for them.

Pack everything that your dog needs, from toiletries and clothes to toys and treats.

You can also plan some stops with your dogs to dog parks, hiking trails, pools, and other destinations that are dog-friendly.

Check out our tips on what you should do with your dog on vacation.

Having a Dog Doesn’t Mean You Need a Car.

Transporting your dog without a car is not as hard as many think.

While having your own vehicle has its perks, not having a car will not deprive your furry friend of their daily needs. 

You don’t have to drive to the park to exercise your pup when you can run in the yard or just walk them around the neighborhood.

You can travel longer distances with your dog by ship, plane, public transportation, or by cycling when you need to go somewhere.

Follow our commute tips to make public transit much easier with your dog. You can also check out our tips on flying with dogs for long-distance travel.