By: Kay Carter | May 30, 2019
Your dog is likely a best friend and an integral part of your life and family. As a result, it only makes sense that you would want to bring him or her on vacation. If your dog has anxiety, there are several ways that you can make the journey easier for everyone. Here are a few tips for dogs that are anxious travelers.
Dogs are excellent at picking up on your energy. If you’re happy or stressed, they’ll tend to mimic that emotion. If you’re feeling anxious about your upcoming trip, the details of the travel, and how your pet will handle it all, they will likely pick up on that as well. To reduce your dog’s anxiety, stay as cool, calm and collected as possible.
If your dog has a history of being anxious on car rides, take a different approach and gradually get them used to taking trips in the car. For example, start off by having them sniff around inside your vehicle and let them lay in the back seat while the car is in park. Give them treats each time so that they associate being in the car as a positive experience. You can eventually work your way up to driving a short distance, such as around the block, and again remember to keep rewarding your dog with treats.
One of the most unsettling aspects of travel for dogs is that they may feel as though they don’t have a safe place to get away from all of the stimuli and movement. Using a crate when traveling can provide a safe space for your dog to feel a little bit more at ease.
When choosing a crate, there are certain criteria to consider. You should make sure that the crate itself is big enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lay down. It should also be leak-proof (for the cleanliness of your car) and ventilated to ensure comfortable breathing for your pet.
If you’re using a crate, this provides an excellent opportunity to make your dog more comfortable. According to House Method, providing your dog with its favorite toy, blanket, or article of clothing with your scent can make their travel experience more enjoyable. When they have what they need to feel at home, their anxiety will be greatly reduced and so will yours. If your dog’s anxiety is still heightened even with a comfortable item, talk to your vet about anxiety medication or appropriate sedatives.
When possible, bring a friend or family member along for the ride. It can be stressful trying to navigate certain aspects of our day such as bathroom breaks without leaving a dog anxious and unattended. With an additional set of hands, you can share petcare duties and looking after the needs of an anxious pet to help ensure that the trip is smooth and simple.
Although it may seem like flying is the more efficient choice, airline travel for dogs can be extremely stressful. Even dogs who may otherwise be completely at ease can find a flight highly anxiety producing. Call the airline ahead of time and talk about what the trip may look like for your pet. They may give details as to what carriers are allowed and what items can be included in the carrier. When possible, it may be in the best interest of your pet to find an alternative. In some cases, that might mean leaving them at home with a pet sitter or a boarding kennel.
Your dog’s mental health is an important factor to consider before booking any vacation. If you want to bring them along, keep in mind the impact that this journey could have on their wellbeing. While the above tips can be helpful in ensuring a low-stress experience, you may decide that your dog will be more comfortable staying at home. Whatever route you choose, know that there are plenty of options available to keep your furry companion happy, healthy, and safe.
Click on the clip below for more tips on how to help reduce your pet’s stress when traveling from Dr. Clayton Greenway.