Bringing your beloved pet along on a trip can be a very pleasant experience if you follow a few simple guidelines. Whether it’s just for a short holiday trip or for a cross-country relocation, you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible. So below, we look at some easy things you can do to make traveling with your dog a lot easier!
Transporting Your Dog in a Crate
This is one of the easiest ways to keep your dog safe while traveling. You might feel awful about your dog being cooped up in a crate, but letting it roam about the car freely can be very dangerous while driving.
Most dogs will in fact appreciate the feeling of safety the crate offers, so no need to feel too guilty. A good way of ensuring your dog relaxes in the crate is to give it lots of exercise before you travel. This way all the excess energy will be burnt off and your dog will most probably just fall asleep and enjoy the ride.
Remove the leash and collar before inserting the dog into the crate, as these are a strangling hazard.
Dogs can pick up on your energy, so remain positive during the process of presenting the crate to your dog. You don’t want it to think the crate will be a prison. Open the door and wait for your dog to explore the crate on its own, don’t shove the dog in. You could even consider leaving a treat in the crate, like a chewing bone, to keep your dog busy during the trip.
Crate Training before the Trip
If it’s the first time that your dog will be traveling by crate, you should let it become familiar with the feeling of being enclosed before the official trip in the car. Use the technique described above to let it explore the crate on its own terms before closing the door.
Remember to keep a positive attitude so that it makes a good association with the crate. Resist the urge to say things like, “don’t worry, we’ll be back soon” when you walk away from the closed crate. Dogs can pick up emotion in your tone of voice, and this type of talking will make it feel anxious.
Return to the crate about 15 minutes later. The dog’s separation anxiety will then be eased the next time you crate it. Don’t physically remove the dog from the crate, simply open the door and let it come out on its own terms.
Driving With Your Dog
Having your dog in a crate while driving is best. You will be less distracted and your dog can settle down and rest in a safe space. Remember to also not feed your dog right before the trip, minimizing the chance of motion sickness. If your dog is prone to motion sickness or you’ve noticed it struggles to calm down in the crate, consider giving your dog a chewable anxiety tablet to help settle its nerves.
When you stop for a break, don’t leave your dog in the car. Even if you leave a window open, the temperature in the car will turn it into an oven very quickly and you risk your dog overheating and dehydrating in a very short period of time. Especially if it’s a long trip, it is best to let your dog out for a break when you stop. Spend some time letting it roam around and play with it a bit to get rid of pent-up energy before the next stretch of driving.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Some crates have the facility to screw on a water bowl onto the wires of the gate. If not, you need to give your dog water with every stop along the trip. Dogs can dehydrate quite quickly, so it’s crucial that you make sure your dog has regular access to water.
Read this article to be aware of the symptoms of dehydration.
To medicate or not
It might seem easier to just give your dog some pills to knock it out for the whole trip, but this is not advisable.
If you do decide to use a calming pill, make sure you stick to one with natural ingredients. The downside of using a calming pill is that your dog can become dependent on it. If you will be traveling with your dog regularly, it’s better to use calming tricks with your attitude, voice and body language to keep your dog at ease.
Easy Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm
As mentioned above, you can give your dog a chewing bone to keep it occupied. Also, make sure you put something familiar in the crate, such as the dog’s blankie or favorite toy.
Rub some lavender oil on your hands and give your dog a mini aromatherapy massage before the trip, focusing on the base of the dog’s head and the spine.
Traveling by Airplane with Your Dog
Firstly, make sure you adhere to the airline’s pet travel rules and regulations. Often airlines will require a health certificate, which you can obtain from your veterinarian. Read through the rules carefully so as to avoid any surprises when you arrive at the airport.
Crate your dog before entering the airport, to lessen the stress on the dog. A food fast of at least six hours before the flight is recommended. Let your dog take a bathroom break just before you travel to the airport.
Your dog might not be flying with you in the main cabin. Remember to remain calm and avoid a dramatic goodbye scene, this will only upset your dog unnecessarily. As long as you remain calm, your dog will follow your example.
Arriving On the Other Side
Whether you are traveling to a holiday resort or hotel, it’s best to research the destination and make sure it’s dog-friendly. Make sure you know where the closest park is from your location, it might not be possible to take your dog for a walk down a busy road.
It’s important that your dog is well-behaved if you will be staying in a hotel. You don’t want it howling or barking in the middle of the night, upsetting your neighbors. Again, as long as you remain calm your dog will follow suit.
Go On a Long Walk When You Arrive
Exercise is a great way to relax a dog. Your dog might seem disorientated in the new environment, reassure the dog by gently talking to it. Don’t use a too excited tone of voice, but refrain from being too comforting as well. You want your dog to feel excited about the new adventure, not feel sorry for itself.
Your dog might start growling at people. This isn’t a sign of aggression, just some nervousness. Keep reassuring the dog that everything is under control. Don’t yank on the leash to stop it from barking at strangers, this will make the dog think that something’s wrong and it will start freaking out even more.
Entering a Hotel Room with Your Dog
You need to enter the room first, to show the dog that you are in charge of the room. It might be tempting to let the dog roam about, exploring. But if you allow this the dog will assume control. First let your dog sit and be calm in one spot while you unpack and freshen up after the trip.
Only initiate activity after you’ve moved about the room. This way you’ve spread your scent around and the dog will settle in more easily.
Exploring the New Place
Being away from home means there are a lot of new smells, sounds and sights for your dog to take in. Your dog can easily become overstimulated with so much new input to process. At the beginning of your trip, try to slowly expose your dog to the new place.
You need to be extra attentive when your dog is roaming about, especially in areas where there are strange things on the ground that your dog can ingest. This is why it’s crucial to train your dog to be obedient when you reprimand it.
Have Fun with Your Four-Footed Travel Buddy
Traveling with your dog should be an enjoyable experience for both of you. If it’s your first time, it’s normal to feel nervous. But for the sake of your dog, you need to calm your nerves so that your dog does not pick up on your anxiety.
Do you regularly travel with your dog? Any special tricks you’ve learned to keep your dog calm?
About the author – Andy is the editor for The Everything Dog Site. TheEverythingDogSite.com is a blog focused on promoting responsible dog ownership as well as helping spread the word about how awesome dogs are! You can also follow Andy on twitter.