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Traveling with Yorkshire Terrier


There's going to be plenty of times that you travel with your Yorkie. Whether you want to take him in the car to the vet, go on a long road trip or your intention is to hop on a plane with your Yorkshire Terrier, having the right supplies and taking steps to make sure your puppy or dog is comfortable will be crucial. It's also a matter of safety as well.

In this section, we'll go over the details of all types of travel you may do with your Yorkie and some great suggestions to help things go smoothly.

We will cover:
  • The car - Tips for both short and long trips
  • Flying - Advice to read before you plan a trip
  • Hotels - What you should know about hotels that accept dogs
  • Q&A - A 'Quick Reader Q&A' to answer some common questions that owners have about traveling with their Yorkshire Terriers

Traveling with Your Yorkie by Car

If you're going to travel with your Yorkie, most likely it's going to be in the car. But before you head out, there are some things that you should know.
small female Yorkie dog
Princess, 2 and 1/2 years old
Photo courtesy of Rebi Laudick
Safety - Obviously no one plans for an accident to happen. Did you know that in the US, there is a fatal car accident once every 15 minutes? That's over 33,000 each year. What about fender-benders? Every year, there are over 10 million car accidents, ranging from taps to crashes. 

What you might not realize is that just a 'low speed' accident can fatally injure a Yorkshire Terrier. 

In fact, trauma is the 2nd leading cause of death for puppies and the 3rd leading cause of death for adult Yorkies.

And one of the elements involved in the classification of trauma is cars; this includes either being hit by one or being injured while being driven in one.

What happens if you get in an accident, traveling at a relativity low speed of 35 mph and your Yorkie is not in a car seat? 

Shockingly, if he weighs 5 lbs., he will be thrown with the force of a 225 lb. object. 

This can cause severe bodily injury including broken bones, fractured neck and/or severe internal injury to vital organs and brain damage. Many Yorkies will die in such a collision.
What to do - The #1 most important rule is to have your Yorkshire Terrier in a certified canine car seat. It will also help with car sickness and other traveling issues (more ahead). The best type of car seat for a Yorkie is one that is sized for toy breed dogs and is a booster seat that has a buckle inside.

It is vital to note that the safety buckle is meant to be fastened to a Yorkie's collar or harness, BUT if you connect it to the collar, this can cause great injury. Any jar, any bump at all, can put a snap of stress on the neck causing collapsed trachea or other neck related injuries.

So, please always slip a harness on your Yorkie any time you are traveling in the car and have the buckle connected to that. 

It is also important to note that while you may want your Yorkie in the front seat with you, in many cars this is not a safe location (just as it is not for babies). This is due to the front end passenger air bag. If you have the option to shut it off & you can slide the seat all the way back, it can then be okay. However, if not, you'll want your Yorkie in the back seat. Most dogs do best close to the rear passenger window, where they can see their owner (to the left) and get fresh air (to the right). 

Fear of riding in the car - Not every Yorkie loves being in the car. Some will put up a huge fuss… barking, whining, trying to escape, etc. In many cases, what appears to be hatred for the car is actually the dog reacting to a severe case of motion sickness. However, there are those that simply dislike traveling down the road.

What to do - Desensitization training works well for most cases in which a Yorkshire Terrier dislikes being in the car. It can take some time, however as with most training, it is well worth it. You'll want to have your chosen car seat set up and have special 'car toys' that are loved but only given while traveling in the car.
The first 5 times or so, you won't even be going anywhere! The goal is to simply place your Yorkie in his spot, offer the tempting toys and start the engine. Sit inside and let it run for 5 to 10 minutes. Next is to only back up and down the driveway. Do this 5 to 10 times, for 3 to 5 minutes. 

The next step is to take short drives around the neighborhood, going slow. Give great praise whenever your Yorkie is calm and when the drive is over, have a super tasty treat to give to him immediately after you remove him from the car. Make the drives longer and longer. And be sure to do this at least 3 times a week. Just doing it randomly will not teach any lessons or help a dog truly become accustomed to it. 

As your Yorkie learns that nothing bad with happen and rewards (praise, toys, treats) are given, he will be much more likely to cooperate and stay calm. 

Car Sickness - This is applicable not just for long car trips but even short travel destinations. Some Yorkshire Terriers are so sensitive to motion sickness, that they can start to have problems just a few minutes in.  

Luckily, there are some things you can do:
mother and daughter Yorkie dogs
Mom Zulaika (3 yrs) with daughter Phoebe (8 months)
Photo courtesy of Tereza dos Santos - Johannesburg, South Africa
Use the right car seat - As we discussed above, this is vital to protecting your Yorkie from harm, however the right seat with the right placement can also combat the nausea and upset stomach that dogs can get when traveling by automobile. While some larger dog breeds can do just fine on the car's seat with a canine car belt in place, a booster seat is what toy breeds need. This allows the Yorkie to be up high, closer to the windows for fresh air but also to be able to see outside; and being able to view the road is something that helps prevent a dog from getting sick. 

When the body feels one thing (motion) but the eyes see another (the un-moving inside of the car), this is what can cause problems. On the passenger side of the back is often the best placement. If weather allows it, roll the window down about 1/3 of the way (if you are traveling on the highway, a window all the way down can cause too much wind on a tiny dog). 

Keep the car cool - Dogs do best if the temperature is a tad cooler than it would be otherwise. So, even if you think it's not quite warm enough for the AC, this can help your Yorkshire Terrier feel better when traveling. 

Time food with your travel plans - Short or long trip, dogs do best when their stomach are not full, but if they do have a bit of cushioning with certain foods. So, don't take your Yorkie out if he just ate (if you must head out with him, bring his dinner in a travel bowl to give during a break or at the destination) but do give him a dry biscuit. 

If you do not have a dry treat on hand, a piece of bread or saltine crackers can be given in place. This helps to absorb stomach acid that can begin to churn when the car starts moving. 

Another method that works for some dogs, is to have a bit of a sugary substance. One small sugar cube or one small jelly bean (a 'regular' one since any candy with sugar substitutes can be toxic - and of course do NOT give chocolate) can be just the trick to keep a dog's stomach settled. 
super cute Yorkie puppy
Beau, at 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Karla Stewart
Take breaks - This also is applicable to both short and long traveling in the car. While a jot to the mall 20 minutes away may seem like a short drive to you, it can be torture for a Yorkie that struggles with car rides. So, if your Yorkshire Terrier starts showing signs of trouble, pull over somewhere safe and take a break. 

On long road trips, a break every 30 minutes is recommended; and never drive over 1 hour (unless your dog has fallen asleep). Dogs need to be let out (in a safe area) to relieve themselves, to stretch their legs, to drink some water and to eat, if needed. 

Supplements - If you'd like to try something before resorting to medication meant to make traveling easier for canines, you may want to look into supplements. Please keep in mind that we've found several on the market that contain questionable ingredients. 
What works best (and safely) are those with ginger (a natural remedy for upset stomach) with or without chamomile and if you can find one that works as a calming aid as well, this can help quite a bit; look for one that comes in soft chews (Made in USA only). Another choice is a safe aromatherapy spray which indeed does work for some dogs. Look for one containing lavender, tangerine, ginger and marjoram.
Medicine - In extreme cases, whether when an owner must travel with their dog in the car a lot or if taking a dog with a history of motion sickness onto a plane, medication can help. Options are Benadryl with the dosing at 1 teaspoon for a 5 lb. dog. Your vet may give you the go-ahead to give Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and in cases of long travel, prescribed medication such as Cerenia can be given (an FDA approved medication, approved for nausea); this is usually only an option if travel will last longer than 2 hours, because it is long-acting.  

Flying on an Airplane with a Yorkshire Terrier

The rules and restrictions regarding dogs on airplanes are always changing, so it is important to read the finer details of any possible flight well before you travel with your Yorkie and right up until the day of departure. 

Here are the things to keep in mind:

Size restrictions - Each airline has strict rules concerning the size of a dog crate, meant to fit under the seat in front of you (putting dogs into the cargo bay is unethical and dangerous). Luckily, the Yorkshire Terrier is so tiny that finding a crate that meets the guidelines should not be a problem. But do check this out and measure the crate to be sure. 

Bathroom needs - Since your Yorkie may be traveling anywhere from 45 minutes to 17 hours (Texas to Australia is one of the longest airplane flights), your Yorkie most likely will need to go to the bathroom at some point during the airplane travel. The best way to deal with this, for both his comfort and for the noses of all passengers, is to place a doggie diaper on him. Bring quality canine wipes with you; after you land, you can clean him up. 

Bring toys - You probably already know to bring along toys; however do take time to carefully choose which ones, since there is only so much room in the crate. Kongs filled with certain foods (kibble stirred into peanut butter) and a few quiet chew toys (squeakers will drive both you and fellow travelers bonkers) are best. 

Is sedation safe? - For dogs that have a history of having trouble being crated for long periods of time or with airplane travel, a light to moderate sedative can be prescribed by the vet to give to a dog before he is boarded onto an airplane. However, we do advise caution. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns that the effects of these sorts of medications are not tested on animals when at high altitude and if a dog were to have an allergic reaction, thousands of miles up in the sky is not the place you'd want to be. 

Better would be holistic calming supplements (see above in the section regarding 'car tips'. 

Staying a Hotel with Your Yorkie

There are pros and cons to hotels that allow dogs. Of course, the pro is that you can bring your Yorkshire Terrier along with you. Some cons are that some will not be the cleanliest and for Yorkies that are fearful of other dogs, it may be filled with many other canines. 

Another factor to keep in mind is that there may be much larger dogs that may not play well with toy sized breeds.

To be safe, we'd suggest keeping your Yorkie in a sling while you walk around the hotel and taking a good look around before letting him go to the bathroom.

Reader Q&A

Q: I'm planning a trip down to Florida and there'll be lots of walking around. I can't even fathom not bringing my Yorkie, but wonder how he'll do with both the sun and the intensive walking. I can carry him, but I'm still not sure how that will affect my own comfort. Do you have any suggestions?
Yorkie on indoor grass
Tinkerbell, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Steve & Robin Timm
A: It is important to keep the heat factor in mind. You'll want to approach this just as you would for summertime tips at home. Avoid being out during the hottest part of the day, stay in the shade if possible, offer lots of water, limit exercise when it's hot, put some nose balm on your Yorkshire Terrier's nose to prevent sun damage, place booties or paw wax on his paws to prevent burns from hot pavement and spritz the coat with a leave-in to prevent sun damage.

When traveling to a vacation destination, owners must always consider the Yorkie's happiness and not just the element of how much they would miss their dog. Will the dog have more fun and be more comfortable at home? Will someone need to keep staying behind with the dog while the rest of the group goes on attractions? Will it be so busy and crowded that the Yorkie becomes overwhelmed? If so, you may want to consider leaving your dog out of the travel plans and having a family member or friend watch him. 

However, if the travel involves events and activities that a Yorkie can enjoy (or at the least not feel overwhelmed), bring him along. Two great methods of handling all of the walking that may be involved are to use a canine stroller (great as well for keeping him in the shade) or to use a carry sling.

Carry slings are pretty great inventions; these keep a small dog up safe, make it super easy to walk around at your own pace and many places won't say a word when a dog is in a sling as opposed to on a leash. 

Q: I'm planning on taking my Yorkie with me on vacation and there'll be lots of traveling on buses or in taxi cabs. Do they allow dogs? Will this work?

A: Many buses do not allow dogs, unless they are service dogs. Large lines like Greyhound do not allow pets. If you'll be traveling around with city municipal buses, call ahead to ask what their guidelines are regarding small dogs.

For taxis, this is up to the independent taxi company. In many cases, you are better off calling a taxi on your phone instead of hailing one down. Some will allow a dog; this is up to the driver's discretion. If your Yorkie is in a sling or in a small tote carry bag, most will not complain.

Another option is Uber, as with taxis, it is up to a driver's discretion; most will be agreeable if your dog is small (which luckily Yorkies are) and is secure so that it does not make a mess (poo, pee or vomit), so the sling or carry tote is something you'll definitely want to have. 
Q: Will be picking up my two 8 week old Yorkies from the breeder in January. It will be a 4 hour drive back to my home. Are there specific items I need to bring for their comfort during the car ride? What signs should I look for to determine whether they are in distress from the car ride? 

A: There are some things that you should do:

1) Very few owners expect that a new puppy will develop motion sickness and only once it has begun, do they realize how bad it can be. Take steps to prevent this. Either a full or an empty stomach can cause issues, so you'll want the puppies to have a small snack before embarking. A very small bit of sugar can help as well. (1/4 teaspoon) before getting into the car.

2) Have a canine car seat for each. A booster seat is best. We realize that many owners want to hold a new puppy in their arms when first obtaining him; however this is not the best choice. The car booster seat is not only for the puppy's comfort but safety as well. You'll want to have a comfortable harness for the puppy; the buckle in the booster seat is then attached to the harness.

3) Even if the puppy appears to be doing fine, take a break every hour. So, before any signs of distress, plan for these rests. Pull into a safe area, allowing the puppy out on leash to pee, stretch his legs, have a bit of water, etc.

4) Signs of distress when transporting a new puppy home would include heavy panting, whining and/or listlessness. 
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Pages of Interest

Yorkie is Shaking - Reasons why a Yorkie may shiver and tremble. How to resolve this quickly.
Strange Odor Coming from Yorkie - Great article for helping to identify odd smells and odors. Ways to keep a Yorkshire Terrier smelling fresh and clean.
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