If you're like us and hate the idea of leaving your pet at home while you go on vacation, fear not. There is a way to make bringing your beloved and furry friend with you. Here are some handy tips to help you make any journey, whether by car, plane or train a fabulous experience.
Driving – Crate: Depending on the type of car you drive, it might be a good idea to crate your dog for the ride. Whether or not you've actually crate-trained your dog before may lengthen your preparation time. If you haven't, dedicate some time to associate your dog with the cage. Keep your mood up-beat and reward them heavily with treats when they obey commands the first time. Also, don't start by leaving them in there all day when you're gone to work. Start slow and work your way up to the length of time you'll be on the road. Eventually, they won't mind.
Remember: NEVER shove the dog in the crate or associate any negative action with it. Let them go into it the first time on their own. Once you're ready for your trip, they'll just think it's even better now that they're getting to go in the car, too!
Driving – Harness/Backseat Bridge: If you're not crating your dog for travel, a harness is a great alternative. This will prevent them from leaping all over the seat, jumping into the front to hang out with you or taking a bad spill should you have to brake suddenly. Having a divider between you and the backseat might also be a good idea as it provides additional protection in case of sudden braking. Remember: Don't leave your dog in the car alone when it's hot outside. Even with a window cranked down it can get very hot very fast. Make sure they have adequate hydration – and giving some snacks along the way is okay, too.
Plane: First and foremost, check with the airline with their regulations on pet travel. Most, if not all, require a clean bill of health to be allowed to fly. In the case of flight travel, they will, more times than not, have to be crated. So take the time to train them if they're not already acquainted. Ensure they get on the plane with “adequate” food levels – they shouldn't have just eaten but they shouldn't have an empty belly, either.
Make sure they do their business before crating them, also. It's important they have access to water, but not tons of it as they won't have the chance to relieve themselves until off the plane. Also make sure to make their crate as home-like as possible. Include their favourite toys, blankets, treats, just anything that keeps him comforted. Dogs are excellent self-soothers, but sometimes they need some help. In extreme cases, you might need to consider medicating them.
Other Tips: In either case of travel in the car or on the plane, make sure one of the first things you do is let your animal become associated with their new surroundings – take them on a long walk and let them (and you) stretch. They may be a little nervous as they're totally out of their territory, but as long as you're calm, they'll be calm.