Some dogs love to ride in the car. But then again, some dogs really hate it. And most dogs will get understandably nervous before riding in a plane. Preparing your pooch is key to avoid anxiety and accidents.
In this article we focus on preparing your dog for transportation, but the tips you learn here can be applicable to other modes of transit as well.
1. Get your dog used to the car crate and car travel.
The first step you want to take is to get your dog acclimated to the process of traveling in the car.
As the ASPCA points out, you really don’t want to assume your dog will just “go with the flow” on the day of.
Rather, start some weeks before your trip. Practice going into and out of the car crate or whatever dog seat belt or restraint system you use. Take your dog on short car rides. Let your pup become familiar with the process over time.
2. Assemble your dog’s veterinary papers and other important documents.
Your destination will determine what documents you need to bring for your dog.
As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains, you will need to research this in advance to make sure you have time to collect the right papers.
At the most minimal, you can plan to procure the following:
– A copy of your dog’s current vaccinations, including rabies.
– A “well dog” checkup result from your vet.
– A current microchip (with updated contact information in the database).
– Collar tags with updated information.
– Extra prescriptions of any required medications in case you lose your dog’s medications.
3. Put together a doggy first aid kit and travel kit.
Just as you want to have basic first aid and care supplies for yourself during your trip, you will need to do the same for your dog.
As PetMD points out, your kit should include these items: travel food and water bowls, food and treats, toys, bedding, extra leashes, basic first aid supplies appropriate to your destination, plenty of poop bags and a current photo of your dog (in case you get separated). You can also bring a dog paw balm to prevent cracked paws, especially if you are traveling in cold and hot places.
4. Make sure your dog is properly trained and socialized.
This is a commonly overlooked to-do list item for people traveling with pets. You don’t want to find out while you are standing in line to register for your campsite that your dog hates all other dogs – or that strangers scare your pup.
In fact, many “pet-friendly” destinations specifically state that only well-trained, well-behaved and well-socialized pet animals are welcome to join their owners.
Practice before you go to make sure your dog can maintain appropriate responses in the presence of unknown animals or humans. This is particularly vital if you plan to visit any areas where dogs can go off leash, such as in backcountry campsites.
5. Feed your dog several hours before you plan to depart.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, dogs can get carsick just like people can.
Travel anxiety can also cause bathroom “accidents” during trips by car. You want to minimize these types of incidents by feeding your dog several hours before your departure time.
You should also plan your travel itinerary so that you can stop frequently to let your dog have potty breaks and just walk around and stretch their legs.
Here again, if your dog has only ever gone to the bathroom in your yard, you will want to practice potty breaks on different types of terrain such as sidewalks, gravel paths and similar surfaces so your pup doesn’t try to hold it until they see something familiar (or until you get back in the car!).
With these five travel tips, you can help prepare your dog for a successful and enjoyable trip that you can look forward to repeating again and again.