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Woman walking dog on vacation in city

City travel with pets

Taking your pup into the city can be a challenge. Whether you’re vacationing or just popping in for few hours, dogs can get stressed and anxious when they’re away from home.

Practicing petiquettegood pet manners—can make the difference in a disappointing trip and a great getaway. Try these tips to make sure you’re welcomed, and welcomed back, wherever you go.

Patio Dates at Pet-Friendly Restaurants and Bars

  • Many bars and eateries accept pets in outdoor areas. Before you arrive, give your pup some exercise, and make sure he’s relieved himself, so he’s more inclined to rest or nap while you eat.
  • Bring a portable water bowl, just in case one isn’t offered.
  • Ask if it’s okay to bring in a treat or toy for your pup, to keep him busy if he gets antsy.
  • Pick an uncrowded place to go, and go when it’s not busy. You and your fur pal will have more fun when he’s not upset by crowds or noise.
  • Ask for a shady spot, so your dog can stay cool. Opt for out-of-the-way seating, too, so no one gets tripped.
  • Resist that urge to drop food from your plate to the ground. Your dog might like, but the restaurant owners won’t.
  • Tie your pup’s leash to something that won’t move, like a post. A table may tip over.

Public Transit in the City

  • Find out if the bus or train you plan to use allows pets, and understand their rules. For example, some transportation companies only allow pets on certain routes and have regulations for pet check-in times, carrier sizes, and more.
  • Give your pet a bathroom break before you board.
  • Don’t let your dog sit in a passenger seat.
  • If you go by pet-friendly ferry, you’ll probably be required to stay in the car with your dog, That’s a good idea, anyway. You don’t want to leave her where she might get overheated or scared.
  • If your fellow passengers show distaste for your pet, move to another section, if possible. Always keep your pet leashed.

Walking and Visiting in Public Spaces

  • Not sure where to let your dog stretch his legs? Search DogFriendly.com for off-leash dog parks in the U.S. and Canada, or Google “dog parks” in the urban area you’re visiting.
  • Don’t let your dog approach someone unless they say it’s okay.
  • If you’re approaching another walker, and your dog isn’t friendly, simply say, “Sorry, she doesn’t like people she doesn’t know,” so they’ll understand and give her space.
  • Avoid retractable leads. Your dog may be able to run as far as 20 feet before the line plays out, ending up in traffic or charging a stranger. Both of you could get tangled up and hurt.
  • Spend quality time with your dog when you’re walking or sightseeing. Tuck away the phone and earbuds, so you won’t be distracted from enjoying your pet and surroundings.
  • Know your pup’s hot buttons. If he hates garbage trucks or bikers, and you’re out walking, don’t do or say anything to make him aware of the “enemy” ahead. Just take a different path. If you can’t, stand quietly at the curb until the way is clear.
  • Scoop that poop. Carry plastic bags when you’re out, and use disposal bins marked for pet waste. Remember: in some cities, you can be fined if your pet leaves a mess.
  • If your dog will be around other dogs for the first time, check out these tips on introducing dogs from Fetchfind.

Note: If you’re traveling with a service animal, these guidelines may not apply. Check with the transportation company, hotel, eatery or other establishment to find out what’s allowed.


Lynn Coulter is owned by two rescue dogs—Molly and Miss Paws—and occasionally blogs at LynnCoulter.com. She’s also the author of three books and a freelancer who writes about travel, gardening and more. She and her husband live in metro Atlanta, where they cheer for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and spend their money on dog biscuits.

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