With the temperatures falling rapidly in other areas of the country, many vacationers are looking at the Southern states as great destinations for weekend or week-long getaways. Between its theme parks, white sandy beaches and tropical climate, Florida is a favorite when it comes to wintertime vacation destinations. If you're traveling with Fido in tow, you'll need to think ahead a bit in order to make it a stress-free and safe trip for your furry friend. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when visiting Florida with your dog.
If you come from a northern climate, you might be surprised by how warm it is in the Sunshine State. Even in January, highs can top out close to 80 degrees. Remember to keep your four-legged pal well-hydrated. Don't take him or her for a walk on asphalt without checking it first; dogs have been known to burn their tender feet all year long in Florida. Never leave your pet in a parked car; the sun here is strong during any season, and the inside of a car can heat up very quickly, even if the temperatures are mild.
Another consideration that you might not be aware of if you live north of the Carolinas is that alligators can and do live in the freshwater canals. Do not allow Fido to go splashing into any body of murky water that isn't the ocean, lest your dog become lunch for a large, hungry reptile! During the cooler months, you can sometimes see gators on the banks sunning themselves, but they're just as likely to be lurking in the shallow water by the edge of a canal or pond.
Just like anywhere else in the United States, you'll need to look for a pet-friendly hotel in advance. You can call your favorite hotel brand, or you can check out a site like PetsWelcome.com, which has a list of hotels welcoming furry clients in each Florida city and town.
When you do get to your pet-welcoming hotel, take Fido for a nice, long walk first. This will allow it to relieve itself as well as to burn off some energy. It's best to bring its crate with you so that it has a safe "cave" to retreat to while in the room, which is laden with unfamiliar scents. Nip any barking or howling in the bud; disturbing other guests is a great way to be asked to leave the hotel that you carefully picked out!
Most dogs will settle down after a few minutes in the hotel room. Don't assume that your pooch doesn't need to be watched carefully, though, even once this happens. Perform a once-over of the room to remove any potential hazards, like draping cords that might tempt your nervous pup to chew on them, or a curtain fluttering over the air conditioning unit that might scare him.
Transportation Fit for a Dog
If you have flown the friendly skies to Florida, then you already have your pooch's pet carrier or crate with you. It's a great idea to use this in the rental car, as it will keep your dog calm and will also minimize any possibility of having to clean up an accident caused by a nervous pet. If you aren't renting a car, you have a few options for getting around.
Some Florida cities have decent public transportation. While you should call ahead, most bus companies allow you to bring small pets in pet carriers that you hold on your lap. If your dog is larger, and is not a service dog (which are allowed on most public transportation if wearing their vests), you probably won't be able to use buses and shuttles.
Taxi services often cater to people with pets. Be sure to call ahead and let the company know that you are bringing along a dog, so that a large enough taxi can be dispatched, and so a driver with a dog allergy or phobia is not the one picking up you and your pet! It's safest for your dog to be crated or harnessed in any vehicle, as it prevents your dog from becoming a projectile in the case of an accident, as well as being a distraction to the driver. Have a peek at this website for more information on taxi services in Florida.
Finally, you'll find that some areas of Florida are walkable, but that not every park or beach welcomes pets. Read the signs carefully to find out whether Fido is welcome. You can always ask your hotel concierge for recommendations for local dog parks and dog beaches, which are fairly popular in many Florida cities.
Traveling with your pet can be both a joy and a challenge. Doing your homework ahead of time can boost the odds that your dog will have as great a time as you are when it comes time to escape the winter blues and head south to the Sunshine State. Enjoy your vacation!