Traveling With Your Dog to Washington, D.C.: Pet-Friendly Flights, Hotels, Activities and More

Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, offers a unique blend of history and dog-friendly charm. Many of the city’s iconic landmarks, like the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, welcome leashed dogs, making it an ideal destination for history-loving pet owners. The city also boasts an array of dog-friendly parks, including Rock Creek Park, where you and your furry companion can explore scenic trails.
Dog-friendly dining options abound, with numerous restaurants and cafes offering outdoor seating for both you and your pup. Additionally, Washington, D.C., has a wealth of pet-friendly accommodations, ensuring a comfortable stay for travelers with dogs. With its rich history, picturesque parks, and accommodating atmosphere, the nation’s capital is a delightful destination for tourists exploring with their canine companions.

Should You Travel with Your Dog?
Whether or not you should travel with your dog depends on your dog’s personality and health. If your dog gets anxious easily, bringing them on a trip isn’t ideal. However, some dogs are great at adapting to new situations and love exploring different places, so those dogs would probably do well on the go.
Regardless of your dog’s temperament, there may be times when they need to travel with you, such as if you’re moving to a new location. If that’s the case, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. That could include stopping more frequently during a long drive or asking your vet about whether or not medications could help.
What to Pack When Traveling with Your Dog
Your dog may not need as much stuff as you do for a trip, but they still need the essentials. Plus, bringing items that look and smell familiar to your furry friend can help them feel more comfortable.
Here’s a list of supplies you should bring for your dog:

Up-to-date identification tags
Collar, harness, and leash
Plenty of healthy dog food
Medications (if they have any)
Pet first aid kit
Food and water dishes (collapsible bowls are the most convenient)
Poop bags
Vet records (some airlines, hotels, and events may require them)
Crate (if you need to confine your dog in the hotel)
Dog seat belt for car (unless you’re keeping them in a crate)
Airline carrier (if you’re flying)
Treats, toys, dog bed, and anything else that could help your dog feel more comfortable

This list is just a general guide of things you may need. Your packing list may vary based on where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what activities you have planned. If you have space to spare, it can’t hurt to pack extra pet supplies out of caution.

What to Include in a Dog First Aid Kit
A dog first aid kit should include essential items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, a thermometer, and a muzzle for safety. It’s also important to have saline solution for eye washing and a blanket for shock or cold. For a complete list of everything you need, see a comprehensive dog first aid guide here!
Finding a Dog-Friendly Hotel
While planning your trip, make sure you find a dog-friendly place to stay. Many lodging options, whether they’re a large hotel chain or a small local property, are willing to allow pets with some restrictions. The best way to know if your dog is welcome is to call the property before booking.
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Other Lodging Options
Even though most popular hotel chains allow pets to some extent, they still might not be the right choice for you. Many prevent large dogs or more than two dogs at a time. Some may also prevent you from leaving your dog alone in the hotel, which can be difficult if you have some plans that aren’t pet-friendly. In this case, consider finding your pup a pet sitter who can take care of your dog while you’re enjoying a quiet dinner, seeing the sights or even taking in a show.
Book a Rover dog sitter and give your dog the best day ever!
So, if you’re struggling to find a good hotel, you may want to check other types of lodging, such as campgrounds or booking sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Those options are often more flexible with pet restrictions because they don’t need to follow the policies of big chain hotels. Like with hotels, you should always contact the property to get the most detailed information on their pet restrictions.
Dog-Friendly Transportation Options
For most dogs, the scariest part of going on a trip is getting there. Dogs who aren’t used to riding in a car are likely to be anxious during a road trip and even more so on an airplane. So, here are some tips for how to keep your dog safe and comfortable when heading to your destination.
Driving with Your Dog
If possible, driving long distances with your dog will usually be easier and more comfortable than flying, especially if you have a large breed. However, you should make sure your dog is okay with riding in the car before you bring them on a road trip. If they don’t ride in the car much on a regular basis, start by taking them for short drives in preparation for the trip.
Here are some tips for taking a road trip with your dog:

Get your dog’s energy out before the long drive (take them for a walk, play fetch, etc.)
Make sure your dog is secure and comfortable (use a crate or dog seat belt, and make sure they have a cozy bed)
Stop more often than you need to so your dog can stretch their legs and do their business
Offer your dog fresh water every time you stop
Never leave your dog alone in the car on a warm/hot day

Flying with Your Dog
Most dogs have ridden in the car at one point or another, but flying with your dog is a much different experience. If your dog is under 20 pounds, they can ride in the cabin on most airlines, but if your dog is larger than that, they may have to fly in the cargo hold. Not being able to see your dog during the flight can be stressful, which is why families with larger dogs typically prefer to drive when possible.
Almost every airline allows dogs, but some have stricter rules than others. Always check an airline’s pet policy before planning to fly on it with your pup.

How to Travel with an Anxious Dog
If you have an anxious dog, driving and flying might both seem tricky. Luckily, there are things you can do to help a stressed-out dog feel more at ease while on the go.

Get your dog familiar with travel – take them to places they enjoy, such as the park, instead of only the vet.
Bring familiar items, such as their favorite beds and toys.
Keep their feeding times and bathroom breaks as close to their normal routine as possible.
Give them lots of exercise before getting in the car or entering the airport.
Stay calm – your dog may pick up on if you’re stressed and become more worried as a result.
Try anti-anxiety products, such as ThunderShirts and heartbeat toys.

While the above tips may reduce your dog’s anxiety, extremely anxious dogs will likely still show some fear in unfamiliar situations. Pet CBD Products, such as those made by Cannanine, can help calm down nervous pups during travel. Cannanine offers CBD oil and soft chews, both of which effectively calm dogs while being THC-free. Plus, every Cannanine product purchased donates meals to shelter dogs.
Top Tourist Attractions in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., is a city rich in history and culture, offering a plethora of popular tourist attractions and events. Here are some of the top picks:
National Mall: This iconic stretch of green space is home to numerous attractions, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol. It’s perfect for walking and taking in the city’s history.
Smithsonian Museums: Explore the world’s largest collection of museums, including the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and National Museum of Natural History, all offering free admission.
The White House: Take a guided tour of the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States (advance reservations required).
The National Gallery of Art: Admire a vast collection of art spanning centuries, including works by famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum: A powerful and moving museum dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust and its victims.
United States Capitol: Visit the heart of American democracy and take a tour of the Capitol Building to learn about the legislative process.
The Washington National Cathedral: Explore this stunning Gothic cathedral, known for its beautiful architecture and stained glass windows.
The Library of Congress: Discover the largest library in the world with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts.
Cherry Blossom Festival: Held annually in spring, this festival celebrates the blooming of thousands of cherry trees gifted to the U.S. by Japan.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival: A summer event celebrating cultural diversity through music, dance, crafts, and food from around the world.
Fourth of July Celebrations: Experience the incredible Independence Day festivities in the nation’s capital, including a stunning fireworks display on the National Mall.
National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Witness the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and enjoy musical performances during the holiday season.
Washington, D.C., is a city that thrives on history, culture, and public events, making it a captivating destination for tourists from around the world. Whether you’re interested in politics, art, history, or simply exploring the beautiful monuments and museums, D.C. has something for everyone.
Picking Activities Your Dog Can Join in Washington, D.C.
If you’re traveling with your dog for vacation, you should make sure they can join you for most, if not all, of your activities. Since dogs aren’t allowed indoors in many places, you should travel when the weather is nice to ensure you can spend time outside with your furry friend.
Washington, D.C., offers a variety of dog-friendly activities for visitors exploring the city with their four-legged companions:

National Mall and Monuments: Leashed dogs are welcome on the National Mall, providing an ideal opportunity to walk your pup while taking in iconic monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
Rock Creek Park: This vast urban park offers numerous trails and open spaces for on-leash hiking and picnicking, providing a scenic escape from the city.
Cultural and Historical Tours: Some tour companies, such as DC by Foot, offer dog-friendly walking tours that allow you to explore the city’s history and culture with your pup in tow.
Yards Park: Located in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, this waterfront park offers a dog run where your pup can play off-leash.
Dog-Friendly Dining: Many restaurants and cafes in D.C. have outdoor seating areas that welcome dogs. Popular pet-friendly spots include The Coupe and Bardo Brewing.
Dog Parks: The city boasts several dog parks where your furry friend can socialize and exercise off-leash. Examples include Shaw Dog Park and S Street Dog Park.
The Wharf: Explore this bustling waterfront district with your dog. Enjoy scenic views, outdoor dining options, and a dog-friendly atmosphere.
Pet Boutiques: Visit local pet boutiques like Howl To The Chief or Metro Mutts to spoil your dog with treats and toys.
Union Market: This vibrant food and shopping hub often hosts dog-friendly events and offers a welcoming atmosphere for pups.
Canine Cruises: Consider taking a dog-friendly boat tour on the Potomac River to enjoy scenic views of the city from the water.

Remember to adhere to local leash laws and pet regulations, and always clean up after your dog to ensure a positive experience for both you and your furry companion while exploring Washington, D.C. This is just a list to get you started because the dog-friendly activities will vary based on where you’re visiting. While most outdoor events welcome pets as long as they’re well-behaved and you clean up after them, it’s always a good idea to check the event’s details to be sure. With enough planning and good weather, you can hang out with your dog the entire vacation!

Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are dogs allowed on public transportation in D.C.?
Yes, dogs are generally allowed on the D.C. Metro and buses, but there are specific rules, such as leashing and size restrictions. Be sure to check the transit agency’s pet policy.
2. Where can I find dog-friendly accommodations in Washington, D.C.?
Many hotels, motels, and vacation rentals in D.C. are pet-friendly. Popular options include Kimpton Hotels, The Liaison Capitol Hill, and Airbnb listings that allow pets.
3. Are there any off-leash dog parks in D.C.?
Washington, D.C., offers several off-leash dog parks, including Shaw Dog Park, S Street Dog Park, and Kingsman Field Dog Park.
4. What are the leash laws in Washington, D.C.?
Dogs in D.C. must be on a leash no longer than six feet when outside of designated off-leash areas. Always follow local leash laws to ensure safety.
5. Can I bring my dog to tourist attractions like the National Mall?
Dogs are allowed on the National Mall and around many monuments, but they must be on a leash. Inside museums and buildings, dogs are typically not allowed.
6. Are there dog-friendly restaurants in D.C.?
Yes, many restaurants in Washington, D.C., offer pet-friendly outdoor seating. Some popular options include Lincoln, The Brig Beer Garden, and Shake Shack.
7. Where can I find pet supplies and grooming services in D.C.?
Pet stores like Petco and PetSmart offer supplies. For grooming services, you can try places like Dogma Bakery or City Dogs.
8. Can I take my dog on a boat tour of the Potomac River?
Some boat tours on the Potomac River are pet-friendly, so you can enjoy scenic views with your dog. Be sure to check with the tour company beforehand.
9. Are there any dog-friendly events or festivals in D.C.?
Washington, D.C., hosts various pet-friendly events throughout the year, such as Bark Ball and Woofstock. Check local event listings for up-to-date information.
10. Is there a 24-hour emergency veterinarian in D.C.?
Yes, there are several 24-hour emergency vet clinics in the D.C. area, including Friendship Hospital for Animals and the VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center.
Final Thoughts
Traveling to Washington, D.C., with your dog can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some final thoughts and tips to ensure a successful trip:

Plan Ahead: Research dog-friendly accommodations, activities, and restaurants in advance. Make reservations when necessary, and check for any pet policies or fees.
Pack Essentials: Don’t forget to bring your dog’s food, water, leash, collar with identification tags, poop bags, and any medications they may need. Consider packing their favorite toys and a familiar blanket for comfort.
Leash and Clean Up: Always have a leash on hand and clean up after your dog. Respect local leash laws and ensure your dog is well-behaved in public spaces.
Weather Preparedness: D.C.’s weather can vary, so be prepared for changing conditions. Bring appropriate gear for your dog, such as a raincoat or boots for wet weather and sunscreen for sunny days.
Respect Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with Washington, D.C.’s leash laws, pet ordinances, and specific rules for parks and trails. Be a responsible pet owner and follow all guidelines.
Emergency Information: Know the location of the nearest 24-hour vet clinic in case of emergencies. Carry a copy of your dog’s medical records and contact information for local vets.
Pet Etiquette: Be considerate of other travelers and residents. Not everyone may be comfortable around dogs, so practice good pet etiquette and control your dog’s behavior in public spaces.
Enjoy the Adventure: Traveling with a dog can add an extra layer of joy and companionship to your trip. Take advantage of Washington, D.C.’s dog-friendly culture and explore the city together.
Stay Informed: Stay updated on any changes in pet policies and regulations in Washington, D.C., especially if you plan to visit specific attractions or parks.

Washington, D.C., offers a wealth of history, culture, and outdoor experiences, and with proper preparation, you and your furry friend can enjoy a memorable and enjoyable adventure together in the nation’s capital.
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