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Travel: If you want to bring your dog

Thursday, May 10, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:24 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ann Gafke owns and operates the dog-training enterprise Teacher’s Pet in Columbia, and she has taken her own dogs out to explore Missouri. She offers a wealth of tips that come from her knowledge and experience to ensure your travel with your four-legged friend is as safe and hassle-free as possible. If you’re planning to take your pooch on an outdoor adventure or simply on an exploration of a city you’ve never visited, make sure you keep Gafke’s advice in mind. Also, check out our list of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and tourism sites across the state.

— Stephanie Twinning

Dog friendly spots

  • Most wineries, including Adam Putcha and Stone Hill in Hermann: Dogs on a leash are allowed, but always call first to make sure.
  • Arrow Rock State Historical Park: Dogs on a leash are allowed on the grounds and on the tours. Cleanup stations are provided.
  • Nathan Boone’s Homestead in Ash Grove: Dogs on a leash are allowed at this 1830s estate. Outdoor picnic tables are available.
  • Chateau on the Lake in Branson: Pets are welcome, but there is a fee of $25 and a 25-pound weight limit.
  • Bollinger Mill State Historic Site in Burfordville: Dogs on a leash are allowed.
  • Harry S. Truman Farm Home in Independence: Dogs are allowed on the property but not inside the home.
  • Blue Bird Bistro in Kansas City: Dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area at this restaurant, which serves healthy and organic food.
  • The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in St. Louis: Dogs on a leash are allowed to visit the museum located in Queeny Park. They might appreciate the world’s finest collection of art devoted to the dog.
  • Three Dog Bakery in Springfield: Bring in your dogs on a leash so they can chose from the mouthwatering selection of cookies and snacks made just for them. Other locations are in St. Louis and Kansas City.
  • Many motels such as Best Western, Super 8 and La Quinta allow dogs, but don’t forget to ask when making your reservation.

While you're out

  • On a boat: Provide a life jacket for your dog — “If you’re in the middle of a lake, even if your dog can swim, it’s a long way to shore,” says Ann Gafke.
  • Keep in mind that your dog has to stop and potty, too.
  • Take baggies for clean up.
  • Keep your dog on a leash and under control.
  • Select a secluded or remote area for a potty area.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a hotel or motel room.
  • Crate your dog at night.
  • Keep your dog quiet.
  • Don’t take your dog into off-limit areas like pools and restaurants.
  • Don’t assume that every dog is friendly to other dogs; be cautious about how dogs are introduced to each other.
  • Consider a nylon-mesh crate. “We usually try to find a nice cool spot and put the dogs in the crates,” Gafke says. “They can just relax while we’re eating a picnic lunch.”

When you arrive

  • Check for potential risks. Each destination has its own set of risks, so be aware of your environment and consider the following: ticks if hiking (lime disease), predators such as alligators if travel takes you down south, mosquitoes (West Nile virus), fishermen (fish hooks), etc.
  • Ask about all rules and regulations and adhere to them.
  • Check for hazards such as blue toilet water.
  • And never leave your dog alone in your car if the temperature outside is above 50 degrees — even if the windows are partially open.

What to take

  • A crate and blanket.
  • A buckle or snap-type collar or harness with a leash.
  • Food and water dishes.
  • Toys and treats.
  • Food: You may want to divide your dog’s food into individual meal-sized portions.
  • Water: “Change of water is the biggest cause of diarrhea in dogs,” Gafke says. “So if you’re only going for a short time, take your own water. If you’re going to be away for a while, and you have to change your dog’s water, be sure to take along some Kaopectate.”
  • Any medication your dog is currently taking.
  • A health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination.
  • A first aid kit. It should include antibiotics, Betadine, hydrogen peroxide, Kaopectate, bandaging material, a small syringe, tweezers, scissors, cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. Also include towels, newspaper, grooming supplies, shampoo, paper towels and plastic bags.
  • A recent photograph and a written description of your dog just in case.

5 things to consider

1. Make sure your dog’s shots are up to date and he has a a microchip, tattoo or collar tags.

2. Check to determine if pets are welcome and prepare to pay more for a deposit.

3. Plan out where your dog will stay while you’re sightseeing.

4. Stuff toys with treats to keep your dog busy and distracted.

5. Make sure your dog can walk quietly on a leash.

While you’re out and about:

  • On a boat: Provide a life jacket for your dog — “If you’re in the middle of a lake, even if your dog can swim, it’s a long way to shore.”
  • Keep in mind that your dog has to stop and potty, too.
  • Take baggies for clean up.
  • Keep your dog on a leash and under control.
  • Select a secluded or remote area for a potty area.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a hotel or motel room.
  • Crate your dog at night.
  • Keep your dog quiet.
  • Don’t take your dog into off-limit areas like pools and restaurants.
  • Don’t assume that every dog is friendly to other dogs; be cautious about how dogs are introduced to each other.
  • Consider a nylon-mesh crate. “We usually try to find a nice cool spot and put the dogs in the crates,” Gafke says. “They can just relax while we’re eating a picnic lunch.”

Fun trips:

Gafke recommends state parks. “State parks are great because you can hike and camp with your dogs,” Gafke says. “And that’s fun.”

Check out to see which state parks welcome dogs on a leash. “It’s a great experience for the dog — a new place, playing in the water, walking along the lake. They love it,” she says.


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