Traveling is an enriching experience. It can provide relaxation and broaden your mind.
However, if you or a loved one owns a service dog, you might feel limited on where you can go for vacation. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make the process easier.
You don’t have to miss out on valuable travel time. Below are some of our top tips for traveling with a service dog by your side.
Contact Your Airline Ahead of Time
Not all airlines are okay with all assistance dogs flying with you on the plane. For example, ESAs face restrictions that service dogs don’t.
To be assured that you’re in the clear, you should contact your airline and explain the situation. Ask them about their policy and see if you need to bring any form of evidence with you on the day of your flight.
Evidence could consist of a registration certificate, which you can obtain through organizations like Service Dog Registration of America. It may also include a letter from a relevant medical professional.
They may have an application form already in place for you to fill out beforehand. The last thing you want to do is turn up ready to fly only to be told your dog can’t join, so make the first move!
Make Your Dog’s Duty Obvious
We don’t mean that you need to hold a sign over your dog that reads ‘Service Dog – Stay Clear!’, though we’re sure that would be effective.
Instead, we advise a jacket or some form of special collar that makes it easy for passersby to know that your dog has a job and doesn’t welcome distracting attention.
This identifying gear can also be beneficial when going through the airport. A service dog that looks like any other dog may arouse the suspicion of other flyers and security alike. A neon vest usually does the trick or some informational jacket with identifying markers in bold lettering.
Prepare a few travel kits for your Service Dog
You need a travel kit during the traveling. We suggest pet owners make a checklist to ensure some of the most relevant items can be packed. Pet carriers, leashes, toys, water bowls, treats a cinching slow feeder dog bowl, and other useful items you’ll find really useful.
Be sure to include the veterinarian’s contact information, as well as the dog’s medical certificate.
As I mentioned earlier, you will be able to confirm the details of your pet accessories by checking the airport’s and airline’s laws.
Know the Difference Between a Service Dog and an ESA
An emotional support animal and a service dog are not the same, though often mistakenly thrown into the same category.
Any animal can be an emotional support animal, and there is little legislation protecting them. Their rights aren’t guaranteed. It’s a different matter entirely for a service dog.
These canines have specific laws and protections to ensure that those who use them are not discriminated against by businesses and facilities, including airlines and hotels.
Of course, if traveling abroad, you should check the legislation of any country you’re entering beforehand to be safe.
Generally speaking, service dogs are more protected internationally than emotional support animals. Make sure you understand the difference before planning your next trip.
Service Dogs Can be an Asset on Vacation!
If you or a loved one has a service dog, you may feel like you’re a little grounded when it comes to traveling. It doesn’t have to be that way!
With the proper preparation, you can go exactly where you want to and still enjoy the necessary companionship of your service animal. Just stay clued-up on the relevant legislation, and you’re good to go.