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Traveling with a dog in a van

In January 2021, while we were on a ski tour in the Durmitor mountains near Zabljak, Montenegro, we met a beautiful black dog who liked to spend his days running on the snow-covered mountains. While we can't imagine sharing our trip with a four-legged companion, the one we call Lucky today knows how to make us fall in love.

At this point, we have no idea what traveling with a dog entails and we can't imagine all the adventures we'll experience together.

In this article, we try to address the constraints that traveling with a dog entails. We develop various themes including the question of administrative procedures for crossing land borders, the risks that we may encounter, access to quality dog food and the limitations that we must face when we a dog. It is aimed at those travelers who, like us two years ago, are about to adopt a dog and at those future travelers who already have a dog and are getting ready to hit the roads.

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Administrative / border crossing

In more than two years of travel, we crossed more than thirty land borders. Although sometimes the steps for our dog to move from one country to another are similar, there are often specific requirements for the country to which we are going.

In the countries we passed through, the requirements for importing a dog vary greatly. Below we develop some useful information to know depending on the region.

IN EUROPE

Traveling with your dog remains quite accessible and administratively easy. Since we are already in the Shengen space, very little or no control is carried out. In our case, border crossings have always gone very smoothly.

OUTSIDE EUROPE

When you leave Europe, things are sometimes much more complicated. This may be due to a certain administrative burden, restrictions or even corruption. Depending on the country, for example when we enter Iraq, you must expect to spend time at the border, to answer questions that may seem unnecessary to you, to prove the authenticity of certain documents that you have in hand. your possession or even to pay a bribe.

A certain amount of preparation can help you limit these complications as much as possible and allow you to travel more peacefully.

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Steps and elements to take into consideration before crossing a border:

  • Requirements: Check the conditions for bringing your pet into the country you are traveling to. These include requirements in terms of vaccines, health certificates, import permits, anti-rabies titration testing (note that some countries have a very precise list of recognized laboratories) and possible quarantine rules.

  • Vaccinations: Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date. The most common vaccines are rabies, distemper and parvovirus.

  • Microchip: Some countries require dogs to be microchipped for identification purposes. Although it's not required, it's a good idea to have your dog microchipped in case he gets lost while traveling.

  • Documentation: Keeps all necessary documents, including vaccination records, health certificates, rabies titer results and any permits, organized and easily accessible for border crossings.

  • Quarantine procedures: Find out about the quarantine procedures in force in the destination country. Some countries may require dogs to be quarantined upon arrival, especially if vaccinations or necessary documentation are not in order.

For the countries outside of Europe that we passed through (Turkey, Armenia and Georgia not included), on our trip page we have made a list of requirements by country.

The relationship with dogs

It's sad, but countries where dogs are respected or seen as life companions are relatively rare. In the countries we have passed through, when dogs belong to someone, it is often because they have a use, notably guarding a property or a herd. They are therefore often poorly treated, raised with sticks or stones, and poorly fed. Stray dogs are treated even less well. This can therefore result in a certain fear or even a certain aggressiveness towards humans.

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Risks encountered

STRAY DOGS

In many countries in Europe and around the world, there are large numbers of stray dogs and loose dogs that are sometimes aggressive. These dogs will tend to be attracted to your pet, especially if it is male, and sometimes the situation can escalate.

How to keep stray dogs away? Sometimes out of fear, it can be tempting to imitate the locals or react abruptly by wanting to scare the dogs away, but we have learned that this aggression can make the situation worse and Lucky is also aggressive with other dogs. With experience, we have been able to find other tips. For example, keep our distance from packs and try to stay as calm as possible. As a last resort, you can pretend to pick something up from the ground, put your arm in a position that might suggest you want to throw something, push them away with a stick (don't hit them), or even use a spray containing a mixture of water and lemongrass. Dogs hate this smell and it can scare them away.

In the event of a fight between your dog and another dog, there is no point in trying to hit him. If anything, it might make him bite even harder. For us, in such a situation, the only solution is to grab the dogs by their back legs and pull them back in a circular motion to unbalance them (as long as you keep moving backwards, they won't be able to bite you)

If you or your four-legged friend is bitten, consult a doctor or veterinarian immediately.

LEGAL RESTRICTIONS

In Iran , the problem is not the same, we found the population rather friendly towards our dog, however, the government of this country imposes a lot of restrictions, in particular not having the right to take your dog out in certain cities of the country . (there is a risk of having it removed).

POISON

In some countries, such as Greece, to try to reduce the number of stray dogs, the local population places poison that dogs can mistake for food. In Oman, there is another problem related to puffer fish washing up on the seashore. Unfortunately, these are toxic, so if your dog likes to eat anything and everything, you have to be careful of this .

REPORTS FROM LOCALS TO YOUR DOG

In some countries, dogs are not always welcome. This is particularly the case in most Muslim countries. In Islam, dogs are considered impure. If a dog comes into contact with a Muslim, just before his prayer, then he will have to start the ablution process again (cleaning which allows him to present himself clean before God for prayer). This can amplify the fear people naturally have of dogs.

There are certain Muslim countries where we found this relationship with dogs extreme, notably in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In Oman , we felt a real danger for Lucky. We know that our dog is by far not perfect, long wild, he is a dog who likes to chase wild animals (and goats) which can make the situation worse. However, more than once, without Lucky having even done anything, locals wanted to attack him by chasing him with a knife or even a gun. We then had to intervene to stop the gesture.

In Saudi Arabia ; this country being very Muslim and still relatively closed, the relationship with dogs is rather complicated, so you have to remain on your guard.

Dog food

We didn't particularly think about it before setting off on the roads of the world with our dog, but in some countries it is difficult, if not impossible, to find dog food. This is particularly the case on the Arabian Peninsula and in Iran. In these countries, pet businesses are extremely rare. When one is found, then the prices have gone up.

Lucky doesn't make it easy for us either. Indeed, he is difficult in terms of food and only seems to like Josera brand kibble. We have tried other brands or even tried to mix the kibbles together, but he either doesn't eat them or he sorts them. So whenever we have the chance, we stock up on dog food.

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Advantages and disadvantages

Having a four-legged companion on a van trip is an exceptional experience for you and for him. Unlike a more traditional lifestyle, when you travel in a van, you spend almost 100% of your time with your dog. This is therefore the ideal opportunity to spend quality time together and create lasting bonds.

There are many activities you can do with your dog. This is particularly the case with most of our sporting passions. Indeed, Lucky accompanies us with great pleasure during our ski outings, our mountain hikes, our mountain bike tours. However, situations where the presence of a dog is a real constraint or even a limiting element also exist. For us the main constraints are:

  • Additional costs (border crossings, veterinary care and vaccines, food)

  • A dog attracts aggressive stray dogs

  • Travel flexibility: not being able to take the plane at the same time to visit a place or return home (a van can be left alone, a dog cannot)

  • Activities or places prohibited for dogs (hotels, restaurants, national parks, etc.)

  • Organizational constraints: in the city, you have to look for a spot close to a park where you can walk your dog, have to look for shade so that your dog can stay in the vehicle for a while, organize your visit time to be able to come back to relieve your dog, etc.)

USEFUL LINKS

This article seeks to present to you the constraints linked to the presence of a dog during a trip by vehicle, it is likely that after reading it, you still have questions concerning the arrangements for being able to travel with a dog.

On the Pet Travel website you will find all the official information you need to know to return to a country with your pet. With nearly 200 countries listed, you will definitely find information for your destination.

The article "How to travel well with a dog" from the santévet site will give you some keys to ensuring the well-being of your companion, whatever the mode of transport chosen.

On the Our Trip page, you will find feedback for each of the countries we crossed. For countries outside of Europe, they include information related to our experience of traveling with a dog in the country.

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