Acclimating your Pet for Travel

Acclimating your Pet for Travel

Posted by Susan Smith on on 18th Dec 2018

Acclimating your pet to its travel crate or carrier is simply the best thing you can do for them.

Thinking about next Spring and Summer with your pet? The best thing you can do to get them through it is to start now to prepare. Get your pet's crate or carrier and work on getting them acclimated to it. 

Start with an IATA-compliant pet crate or airline-compliant pet carrier. Should something happen where your crate or carrier is compromised and your pet can escape, that is where it is most at risk. As unpleasant as it may be for your pet, the last thing you want is for them to be at large.

How can you prepare your pet for travel? Start with introducing them to their crate or carrier. Leave all door open and provide for full access. Put the crate or carrier where you and your pet spend most of your time.

Put a good  pet pad, favorite toys, a "used" t-shirt with your scent on it and even bedding in it. You want your pet to spend as much time as possible in the crate or carrier. Do not confine them until they go in voluntarily, even if you have to entice them with treats and catnip. Make it a happy place for them.

After a minimum of a few weeks, leave them in the crate or carrier with the door closed for a few minutes. Return and reward them for waiting for you. This time should be longer and longer every day. Then introduce them to the car. If you hear resistance, start the car but don't move. Take them back inside and try again. Take short trips always to return home to lots of praise, attention and treats. 

Try going to somewhere fun: a pet friendly store, dog park, pet friendly restaurant, a friend or relative's house. Make it a fun experience for them. Always leave them for a few minutes, then come back to them.

When on the road, plan for plenty of stops for both of you to stretch your legs. Always return your pet to its crate with a reward for good behavior. If flying, then try putting your pet in a dimly lit closet or running it through an old fashioned car wash in the car. Any experience you can create for them that is outside of their normal environment will be what they remember on travel day.

Yes, it is a lot of effort, but you can relax on travel day knowing that you did everything you could to prepare your dog or cat for travel. And it will know that you will be coming back when travels are done because you have done that over and over again before departure day. The time will certainly be worth the peace of mind.

Happy Travels!