Traveling during the holiday can be exciting, fun and simultaneously stressful, but pet travel is a whole new experience! If you’ve recently brought a new addition home, or are taking your first family vacation, the idea of pet travel can be daunting.
Adding to the holiday stress, the simplest trips can become overwhelming, let alone with our furry friends in tow.
As we get ready to hit the open road, we have some pet travel holiday hacks that every pet owner should know before you head to your next holiday destination.
Pet travel: seven pet travel holiday hacks every pet owner should know
Practice your travel routine prior to the trip
The more you can practice the travel routine prior to the trip, the better for your pet.
Is your pet familiar with traveling in the car? If you are planning a road trip for the holidays, the more time the pet can spend in the car, the more you can help reduce potential stressors. “Taking a trip to the train station or sitting at the airport with your pet can help your pet (and you) become familiar with the environment,” states Trupanion pet program manager J. Marmol.
Also, a practice run or two can help establish new routines and eliminate surprises that can help your pet acclimate to travel.
How to teach your pet to love the crate
Crate-training is essential for travel with many pets. Indeed, one of the most important factors about crate training is that the pet can learn to love being in the crate.
“You want them to feel like their crate is their happy safe place. It should not be a scary place that they are only put in when you leave them alone or when they are being punished,” states in-house Animal Behaviorist, Camille Barrios UW-A.A.B.
Another important aspect of crate training is positive reinforcement while the pet is in the crate. This can include additional praise and attention, or for food motivated pups, a treat or two.
A new environment for pets – potential new behavior for pets
Your pup may well be the perfect pet. They walk on a leash well, are comfortable meeting people (and pets), and enjoy going to new places.
So, you’re all set and ready for your first vacation … and realize when you get to the train station, your furry friend does not like the sound of trains.
“A new environment is like a clean slate. Your pet is being exposed to a new sound, a new smell, and your pet might not know how to react,” states Marmol.
Don’t fret. Rather give your pet time to adjust to any new environments and assess behavior accordingly.
Prepare for travel delays
Travel delays can often occur during the holiday season. So, consider taking an extra-long morning walk or spend time outside with them prior to your travel plans.
Meanwhile, getting to the train station or airport early will reduce any stressors about missing your flight or train. Once you’re checked in and settled, you can spend some quality one on one time with your furry friend.
If you are traveling by car, prepare to make additional stops so your pet can have the opportunity to stretch their legs. Riding in a car can be a fun way to travel, it does require the need to stretch your legs every now and then (for us and our best mate!)
Always have a pet-friendly activity
Bring an interactive toy or your pup’s favorite activity. Travel can be stressful for everyone, so having an interactive toy that your pet can focus on will keep them emotionally, mentally, and physically stimulated.
Also, the one-on-one time together time will help focus and keep the pet at ease.
Expect a lot of people (and pets) during the commute
Holiday travel means a lot of people and pets will be sharing the roads and airways. It’s best to prepare and keep your pet close to you at all times. You never know how another pet might react to yours, or if they are leash reactive towards your pet.
Bring one of your pet’s favorite items
By bringing one of your pet’s favorite items, you’re providing something familiar to them that makes them happy. It’s worth bringing that blanket or ball if it brings them joy. Tis the season!
These pet travel holiday hacks can provide easy and simple means of setting expectations with your pet, encouraging positive responses and making sure they feel safe and loved, providing a more positive travel experience for your pet.
The more your pet is exposed to a new environment, the more comfortable they will likely become.
By utilizing tools like a crate, positive reinforcement, and quality bonding time, you are ready to navigate all those holiday travel experiences and enjoy a vacation with your furry companions.