Traveling with your dog can be stressful for both of you but sometimes it can’t be avoided. You might be getting ready to leave for the holiday, move to a different part of the city or a different country – regardless of the scenario, your dog’s safety should always be your priority. By getting informed and planning ahead, you can experience smooth travels with your pet and he can reach the destination safely.
1. Buy the Appropriate Crate
Whether you’re planning to travel by train, car or plane, you will need a suitable crate for your dog. All airlines have strict rules when it comes to flying with pets so make sure you do your homework and read all the information they offer on their website. If you’ll be travelling by plane, your dog can fly in the cargo area or in the cabin. Small dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin and they will need a crate that fits under the seat in front of you. Medium and large sized dogs are required to fly in the cargo area, in a crate that allows them to stand and stretch freely.
Even if you travel by car, you need to buy a crate. This not only ensures you can drive undistracted, it also makes sure your pet is safe in the unfortunate case of an accident. Buying a crate for cars and trains is generally up to your preferences and needs. However, make sure the crate offers your pet enough room, is easy to open and close, has a secure locking system and is easy to carry around (fitted with handles, or better yet, wheels).
2. Consider Hiring a Professional Pet Moving Company
Traveling with your dog requires a lot of preparation and attention to details, especially if you are planning to leave the country. If you find there are too many things you have to juggle with at the same time, it might be better to rely on professional pet moving services that handle the process from the beginning to the end. This way, you will have the needed peace of mind to deal with the other tasks that need your attention and you will be able to enjoy your vacation.
3. Get Your Dog Accustomed to the Crate & Take Him for Car Drives
If your dog will have to spend a few hours in the crate during your journey, you should introduce him to it as soon as possible. Start by leaving the crate out and the door open. Your dog should be curious enough to start sniffing and exploring it. To encourage this behavior, you can feed your dog in the crate and even place blankets or toys inside it. By doing this, you will help your pet associate the crate with pleasant things and he will not be scared when he will have to travel in it.
Once your dog is clearly comfortable enough to be in the crate with the door shut, it’s time to take him for car drives. This will help him get used to being in a small, confined space while being in a moving vehicle. Start with small, 5-minute car drives and gradually increase the length. Give your dog encouragements and treats during and after the car ride. This way, your pet will remember that at the end of the trip you will always be there to comfort him.
4. Be Prepared to Deal with an Anxious Dog
Traveling can be quite taxing for some dogs. If you don’t know how your dog reacts during journeys, do trial runs before the trip and monitor his behavior. Does he get stressed and anxious or does he feel car sick? Most dogs are ok during travels but some experience high levels of stress. They let the people around them know that they are anxious by barking, yelping, shaking or by involuntarily peeing. In some cases, stressed dogs will also have dilated pupils and a hunched posture.
You should be prepared for all of these scenarios. Bring toys, treats, towels, blankets and a lot of patience with you on the trip. Keep in mind that dogs pick up on your behavior and gestures. If you are feeling anxious and are talking unusually, your dog will sense this and will become even more anxious. To calm your scared pet, reassure him constantly that everything will be ok. When possible, stop every two to three hours and allow your dog to stretch his legs and use the bathroom. Make sure he stays hydrated and allow him a few minutes to play fetch if he’s in the mood.