Traveling with a pitbull or pitbull mix dog can be tricky. There are laws and situations that aren’t conducive to a fun travel experience that I want to help you avoid.
Check out these tips and have a fantastic time with your furry friend.
1. Be aware of breed laws and regulations
Prior to traveling or staying overnight in a new area, read up on the laws of that region. Do certain areas have requirements regarding muzzling or other conditions for pitbulls? Will you be able to easily stop for potty breaks and let your pitbull out of the car? More on this in the next section.
To make traveling with a pitbull as enjoyable as possible, you should take the following steps:
- Call the local animal control office to get the most current information about any restrictions in the area if you’ll be visiting or passing through a jurisdiction that has a breed-specific law.
- You may want to carry DNA results from your vet showing your dog’s lineage if your dog looks like one of the restricted breeds.
- Plan for the unexpected, since laws are constantly changing and websites might not be up-to-date.
- Make sure to comply with all muzzle, leash, and proof of insurance requirements if your pet is an affected breed, or it could be mistaken for one. To be prepared at all times, make sure to carry those with you when you are out and about… even on short potty breaks.
- Do your best to comply with breed-specific laws even if it means leaving the jurisdiction. And be extra polite if you have accidentally broken one of the local laws.
And consider just bypassing any location that has any restrictions at all on your bully altogether. That makes it stress free and more enjoyable for sure.
In addition to areas that have restrictions, there are some that you should altogether avoid. We will discuss that more in the next section.
2. Use BSL resources to plan your trip
Legislation that restricts certain dog breeds from a particular location or activity is called breed-specific legislation (BSL). If the owner of a dog breaks any of these laws, then the owner may be fined and their dog may be taken away and/or executed. It’s super important to know where to avoid going with your pitbull.
But it’s not hard to make sure you and your dog have a great experience when you travel! Though traveling with pitbulls might take a little extra planning, it can be a fantastic experience!
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with Breed Specific laws since they vary from one state or province to another. They even vary from country to country.
There are some great maps for the US, Canada and the world that show you:
- Places where pitbulls are banned
- Spots where the BSL was rejected
- Areas with added restrictions
Check them out as you plan where you will be traveling to and where you will stay.
Click Here for a map from the Animal Farm Foundation with areas of the United States marked where BSL has been enacted.
Click Here to see a map from the Justice for Bullies Bullies indicating areas in which breed specific legislation has been enacted in Canada and across the world.
These a great maps and a good place to start.
There are a number of ways you can plan your trip, but you could pull out a good old fashion map and start plotting out where you want to go. Then check out those maps above and look for spots you need to avoid on the BSL websites, and mark them in red on your map so if you are offline as your travel, for any reason, you can make sure to avoid them. Just make sure you stay clear of those areas.
Be sure to take your atlas on your trip, so you can easily refresh your memory on places that discriminate against your dog as you travel along.
3. Find a pit-friendly hotel to spend the night
Knowing the city or state regulations means you’re safe with your dog out in public, but some businesses or hotels, even pet-friendly ones sometimes don’t allow pits.
I find it easiest to schedule hotels that are pitbull friendly before I leave home when I can. There are times when my wife and I decide to take a little different route than we had planned on and we need to call around to find a different place to stay. We just pull out our phones and Google Maps and start to call around. It isn’t too hard.
And if your dog is a mixed breed it can be helpful to carry its paperwork, confirming their DNA. Some places can be more lenient with mixed breed pits.
This also applies to boarding and daycare facilities. And they might not mind pits personally but their insurance might not cover them so they can’t take them. You never know till you ask.
It’s easy to avoid breed restrictions, because there aren’t any, in parks and forests owned by the US federal government, such as national parks, national forests, and Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds.
4. Simply avoid places where pitbulls are banned
If you are like me, as I mentioned earlier, avoid all the towns that have BSLs, when you can. Map your route so that you avoid areas that have banned the breed of dog. Understanding the restrictions is important. I will pass through towns that have restrictions, but I won’t stay the night there.
5. Keep your pitbull’s mind busy and engaged
Your dog can likely spend hours just looking out the window. They will do this whether you are flying or driving. Whether you are driving or flying with your pitbull, find a couple of ways to keep him entertained. You can carry his favorite toys, or a new toy or two, a bone, a food bowl, and of course bring their dog bed.
This way, he will feel comfortable and relaxed the whole drive. However, you should never leave him alone in a car, even if you have to run into a store for a snack.
If you do need to run in to grab something take them with you. This is where it pays to have done your prep work before your trip. You will know you aren’t going to have problems with restrictions if you have done your homework.
6. Keep his energy levels low
One of the keys to having any dog that is mild mannered and well behaved is getting them plenty of activity and exercise to lower their energy levels. This is especially true for pitbulls! They will listen better and be calmer and listen better if they have had a chance to get out and work hard first. It is like a magic pill! Those of you who have experienced this and nodding your head right now.
If you have ever seen an episode of The Dog Whisperer, you know that’s one of the first places that Cesar starts. And it’s a fantastic travel hack with your pitbull!
Before you get in the car or on a plane or any kind of public transportation or take him into your hotel room for the night, do all you can to get as much energy out as possible. Dogs need exercise and especially pitbulls!
How much exercise does he need? You know when they have gone on a walk or hike or bike ride and then they come in the house and drink and then crash in their bed for a couple hours? That’s how much. It leaves them feeling better physically and mentally.
If you can, for the two days prior to your trip get them good and exercised each day and your trip will be so easy. The inverse is true. If they haven’t gotten a lot of physical activity in the days leasing up to your trip they will be off the walls and everything will be a little bit harder for sure.
6. To be Super Safe, Don’t Let Him Stick His Head Out the Window
I crack the windows for my dogs and at times let them stick their heads out, but not typically on the freeway… But I did a little research and found the following, which makes sense.
- If he has cropped ears, his ears can become infected when small particles fly into them.
- Injuries might occur if road debris hits him in the face.
- His ears can flip in the wind if he has natural pitbull ears which can cause them to swell and form scar tissue which can damage his ears permanently.
I haven’t ever seen those things happen, but it’s understandable that they could.
7. Check Your Airline’s Pet Policies
You should check the airline regulations and rules if you plan on flying to your destination. I’ve got an article on flying with your pitbull here that goes into more detail about the best way to fly with your pitbull. ((link)) Don’t plan a trip without checking to see if you can bring your pit on your airline of choice and seeing what type of crate they need you to bring to transport him in.
8. Get Him the Right Crate
There is a chance that the crate required by the airline you’re flying on is different than a crate you already own for your furry friend. It’s also possible that the requirements may have changed since the last time you flew with that airline as well, so your current crate still might not work. Again, it is a lot easier to make a call ahead of time than to discover you need to make some changes when you arrive at the airport.
9. Try a Pet or Dog Courier Service
Your next option, if there are no airlines that will take your pitbull, could be a service that will deliver your pet. Pitbulls can be transported by pet couriers, who specialize in transporting pets.
A company like this will take care of all the details including paperwork, crate, food and water for you, and even assign someone to check on your dog from time to time through its journey.
If you go this route, only one disadvantage could be that you and your pet might be on different flights.
10. Obtain a Health Certificate
Getting your pitbull checked and carrying that documentation with you is always a good idea, even in countries that do not require them. Maintaining your dog’s records up to date, and having that paperwork readily available in case of issues, will go a long way towards showing people you are a responsible dog owner.
If you don’t know how many checkups your destination requires, check with the destination requirements. It’s also good within ten days of your flight, to take your dog to the veterinarian and have them examined. Doublecheck what vaccinations are required by the destination and then make sure they have those as well.
11. Be a Good Ambassador for the Breed
Whether it is fair or not, pitbulls do have a bit of a bad rap. It is frustrating to have to do additional research to ensure you don’t have issues with restrictions and laws get in the way of you having fun on your vacation.
Their reputation will only change over time as people have good experiences with pitbulls and their owners. So it is up to us!
When I had my pitbull mix I enjoyed seeing people enjoy petting him and meeting him. I would smile when they would find out he was half pit. It made me feel good to try to change their preconceived notions of what a pitbull was.
They often would have a good experience and then ask a lot of questions. I really enjoyed it too. That’s a significant part of how we fix the pitbull’s reputation.
I think the extra effort is worth it!
Now for a couple questions that I have gotten.
Which country is the most dog friendly?
After a little research across the web I am very comfortable you would be in great shape looking into some of these destinations if you are looking into an international trip with your furry friend. I might write more on them later, but for now, here is my list.
How do you travel with a pitbull?
To have the best experience traveling with a pitbull check ahead and make sure they are allowed where you are going, and then do all you can to keep them and those around you safe so that it can be a good experience for your dog and others.
Here is a quick list of the bullet points we explained above.
1- Be aware of Breed Laws and Regulations
2- Use BSL Resources to Plan Your Trip
3- Find a Pit-Friendly Hotel to Spend the Night
4- Simply Avoid Places Where Pitbulls Are Banned
5- Keep your pitbull’s mind busy and engaged
6- Keep his energy levels low
7- Don’t Let Him Stick His Head Out the Window
8- Check Your Airline’s Pet Policies
9- Get Him the Right Crate
10- Try a Pet or Dog Courier Service
11- Obtain a Health Certificate
12- Be a Good Ambassador for the Breed