Join our blogger community and ask questions or post your pet travel experience so other pet owners can lbenefit! Thank you for sharing.
- Will my pet be quarantined?
- What vaccinations does my pet need?
- Will my pet need a passport?
Post your questions here and we will respond within 24 hours. You can also find information on international pet travel here: international pet travel
Need to know what type of carrier you will need?
What does your pet need to fly as cargo?
Will the airlines transfer your pet from one plane to another?
Post your questions here and we will respond within 24 hours. You can also find information here: airline pet policies.
So, it’s time to travel with your pet. Whether your trip is planned or unexpected, why is it important that temperatures matter? Simply put, extreme weather outside your door or at any place you stop along the way or at your destination can put your pet at great risk when traveling, especially when flying.
How to protect your dog or cat in extreme temperatures
How does a cat or dog regulate its body temperature during periods of high temperatures? Our fur babies do not sweat through their skin as much as we do. Their coat helps protect them, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They can perspire through their ear canals and the pads of their feet, but they regulate their body temperature primarily through their respiratory system (panting). Excessive panting promotes dehydration, and that is why having water available to them when traveling is important.
If dogs and cats are exposed to low temperatures for long periods of time, body temperatures can drop and hypothermia can develop. As time passes, their body’s ability to bring itself back to normal temperatures diminishes. Depression of the circulatory, central nervous, respiratory, and immune systems commonly develops. It all leads to difficulty breathing, which is never good for any of our four-legged friends.
Every animal is different in how they handle changes in temperature. Size, age, breed, type of coat, and health all play a part in protecting your cat or dog from variations in body temperature. Snub-nosed breeds are particularly at risk due to their inability to breathe efficiently. This can lead to rapid dehydration.
Obviously, dogs and cats that have thick undercoats, like Huskies, Samoyeds, Malamutes, Persians, and Maine Coon Cats, for example, are better protected in periods of cold weather, while Chihuahuas, Sphynx cats, and other small, short-haired breeds are more susceptible to cold temperatures. It makes sense, right? Does it work the other way around? Not necessarily. It depends on your pet’s normal environment and what temperatures they are accustomed to.
Adapting to a change in environment
If your dog or cat is traveling from a warm climate to a cold climate, it is important to offer protection to them until they can become accustomed to lower temperatures. One way to help is with a self warming pad. This nifty pad can be used in a crate, carrier, cage, or car and will hold your pet’s natural body heat to be reabsorbed back into its body, helping to keep it warm. Don’t forget sweaters for short-haired dogs and cats in low temperatures.
If you are relocating from an environment with cold temperatures to one with warm temperatures, the key is hydration. Make plenty of water available to your dog or cat. Keep them inside during midday hours, when temperatures are the most extreme. Walks should occur before the sun comes up or after it sets, if possible. Monitor your pet’s panting to be sure it is comfortable in warmer temperatures. Put your hand on the asphalt. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your pet’s paws.
How to travel with your pet in periods of low temperatures
Let’s first consider ground travel, as it is a less stressful way to travel with a pet. Obviously, if you are traveling in a car, conditions will be stable for your dog or cat because you will have control over temperatures in your car, that is, as long as you are in it. If you leave your pets in your car unaccompanied, temperatures can rise or fall very quickly in summer and winter, even if you leave the window open a bit. It takes only a few minutes to become risky for them, especially in periods of higher temperatures.
Remember, too, that our friends need pit stops when traveling, and protecting their pads is important in both the summer when asphalt is hot and the winter when sidewalks are icy and snow is on the ground. Dry their pads well, removing any snow or ice that is caught in their pads. (Cats will especially love this.)
Although transport is longer by ground, this type of transport is not subject to summer or winter heat or cold embargoes set by commercial airlines. (More information is below.) Your pet rides inside a vehicle that is heated or air-conditioned for its comfort.
If ground relocation is the best way to move your pet and you cannot accompany it or need stress relief, consider using a pet transport service. We have relocated thousands of cats and dogs within the lower 48 US states comfortably and safely. Our drivers are compassionate, experienced, and USDA-certified professionals who love what they do as well as their furry passengers. All pet owners are informed of their pet’s progress every 3–4 hours with texts and pictures.
Ground transport is truly the least stressful means of transportation for your pet.
Commercial air transport
When flying in the cargo hold of a commercial airline, the time when your dog or cat is most at risk is not after takeoff or at 30,000 feet. They are most at risk of cold or hot temperatures while on the ground during periods of holding, loading, and taxiing. Most cargo areas are not heated or air-conditioned efficiently, and it can get mighty cold (or hot) waiting for hours before loading. Live animals are generally loaded after all the luggage, so they wait on the baggage carrier or the tarmac until it is their turn. Also, if the airport is busy and there is a wait to take off, tarmac temperatures can affect the cargo hold until the aircraft’s heating or cooling systems kick in. (Similar to conditions in the cabin.)
If you are flying your dog or cat in the cargo hold, your airline will not accept live animals when temperatures on the tarmac fall below 45°F (7°C) or higher than 75-85°F (29°C) anywhere on your route (origination, layover or destination). Temperature limits will depend on the airline’s pet policies and your pet’s breed.
Some airlines may accept an acclimation certificate issued by your veterinarian if your pet lives in a cold climate and is of a breed that is accustomed to lower temperatures. No such certificate is available for higher temperatures, and rightly so. Like a hot car, periods of high temperatures are extremely risky, even for healthy pets.
What can owners do to avoid pet travel during periods of extreme temperatures?
Travel in Spring or Fall
The best time for pets to travel is in the spring or fall, when temperatures are not extremely hot or cold, no matter how you choose to transport your pet. Temperatures matter when it comes to your pet’s safety and comfort.
Travel During Non-Holiday Periods
Drive or book your flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday when demands on the cargo hold are not as excessive. If you drive, traffic will be lighter these days. If you are traveling for a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, go several days early before the rush and return during the week after the holiday, if possible. Be prepared to leave early to avoid rush-hour traffic.
Drive or Fly Directly
Unless you are traveling in an RV, get to your destination as soon as you can so you can introduce your pet to a stable environment. If you are flying, opt for a direct flight. It may be more expensive than itineraries with a layover, but it is far less stressful for your pet. Never change airline companies along the way, if at all possible. If you change airline companies on an international trip, your pet will be subject to import regulations in the layover country.
Get Your Pet Acclimated to Travel
Acclimating your pet to its crate or carrier is simply the best thing you can do to ease the stress of travel for your cat or dog. The time spent training your pet to recognize its crate or carrier as its “safe place” will be well worth the effort.
Lots of short trips in the car will help your dog or cat get used to leaving its environment, and travel will be a bit less stressful for them. Get your pet a good restraint, whether a pet carrier or a booster seat. If flying, get a good pet crate and get your pet used to it as early as possible.
We do not always get the opportunity to plan our travels. Life brings sudden changes, and all of us want our pets with us when it is time to go. If temperatures are low or high, then consider changing airports where temperatures are cooler or warmer, if possible. Talk to your airline about holding and loading procedures once your pet is checked in.
If your destination is too hot or cold when you need to travel, you may need to leave your pet with friends or family until such time that it is safe for them to travel. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but safety always comes first, and to lose a pet is surely a tragedy. It’s better to fly your best friend alone or go get them later, when temperatures are more tolerable. Remember that temperatures matter!
If you are a pet owner, sooner or later, you will need to transport your pet, either with or without you. Pet owners take vacations; they relocate to new countries; they rescue disadvantaged pets. In all cases, there are two important questions to ask: what do I need to do, and what is the cost to ship my pet dog, cat, or other animal?
Obviously, all pet owners would like to ship their pet the best way possible, imposing the least amount of stress on them; however, cost is always an important part of the equation as transporting a pet can be quite expensive, especially internationally. Certainly, budget preparations should be made in advance.
Options to Ship a Pet Dog, Cat or Other Animal
Transport Pets by Ground
Ground pet transport may appear to be one of your best options for moving your pet, whether you can accompany it or not. Ground transport is less stressful for your pet than flying in the cargo hold of an airplane, even if the trip takes a bit longer. Most pets really enjoy an adventure with their owners, unless they are unruly in the car or suffer from car sickness.
With all the stress associated with travel, many pet owners prefer to enlist ground transport services to move their pets. Our sister company, Pet Travel Transport, has been moving pets by ground for many years. Our experienced drivers provide individual attention to every pet, stopping every three to four hours to allow them to stretch their legs. We can also expedite the trip for pet owners, as many of our drivers drive in pairs, allowing one to drive while the other sleeps. More information on ground transport here.
Depending on your route, ground transport can be more expensive than transport by air, but it is perfect for pets that cannot fly for the following reasons:
- Shy, skiddish or anxious personalities
- Snub-nosed breeds
- Breeds classified as aggressive
- Very large or small breeds
- Puppies and kittens just separated from their mother
Another advantage to relocating a pet by ground are the summer and winter temperatures. Commercial airlines will not fly pets in the cargo hold when temperatures exceed 75–80 degrees F or are lower than 45 degrees F. This restriction is imposed for the safety of your pet. In these cases, ground transport is the better option.
Find more information on transporting a pet by ground.
Transport by Trains or Bus
Although this is not the case in all countries, the availability of bus and train transport in the United States is limited, and carriers like Amtrak will only accept small cats and dogs under 20 pounds. If these forms of transportation do not serve your destination, then you need to find other options when you disembark.
Unfortunately, the Greyhound Bus Line is not pet-friendly; however, if you are traveling in parts of Europe, there are many pet-friendly trains options to choose from.
Transport Pets by Sea
Certainly, ground transport is not always possible, especially if your destination is across a large body of water like an ocean. Very few commercial vessels will accept pets unless they are service or emotional support animals. The Queen Mary 2 is pet friendly if it accommodates your route.
Transport Pets by Commercial Air
Air transport is the quickest option for traveling pets. Costs will vary significantly based on airline pet policies, the class of service used, the size and weight of your pet, as well as your route and destination country. Many pet owners share concerns about flying their pet, especially in the cargo hold, but safety is every airline’s first priority when it comes to shipping live animals. Considering the number of live animals flown each year and the number of incidents that the airlines are required to report, flying is generally a safe and viable option that should be considered as long as your pet can be acclimated to a carrier or crate.
Commercial airlines offer three classes of service to ship dogs, cats, and other animals. Note that not all three options are available on all airlines.
- In-cabin: generally for small dogs and cats weighing less than 18 pounds and less than 19 inches high when standing (will vary according to airline pet policies).
- Checked baggage: for larger dogs and cats (and sometimes other animals) that are accompanied by an adult passenger. Weights are generally between 19 and 100 pounds, but may be less. Travel will be in a special area of the cargo hold, which is temperature- and pressure-controlled like the cabin.
- Air cargo: unaccompanied dogs, cats, and (sometimes) other animals or pets bound by destination country pet import regulations. Travel will be in a special area of the cargo hold, which is temperature and pressure controlled.
Generally, the cost to ship a pet dog, cat, or other animal in the cabin or as checked baggage is a fixed price, and the cost is charged for each direction of the flight. So, if your pet was flying from JFK to Paris roundtrip, your airline would impose a separate cost to fly to Paris and another similar cost to return to JFK, no matter what class of service your pet was flying under.
Some airlines will tier their pricing based on the length of your route or the size of your pet if it is flying either in-cabin or as checked baggage. Lufthansa and Philippine Airlines are examples of airlines that use this type of pricing.
Note that several airlines will impose an additional pet fee if the flight has a layover, even if your pet is staying on the same airline. (Air France is an example.) Additionally, if your pet changes airline companies during a layover, another pet fee will always be imposed by the airline operating the next leg of the journey.
Transport Pets In-Cabin and Checked Baggage
Here are some samples of costs imposed by major airlines for pets flying in the cabin and as checked baggage. Note that these costs may change, so it is always best to contact your airline to confirm recent costs and make a reservation for your pet. Note that these are not round-trip costs; they are charged for flying in each direction.
- American Airlines: $125
- Delta Airlines: $125 (US/Canada/Puerto Rico), $200 (International/Virgin Islands), $75 (Brazil)
- United: $125 (more for longer trips with multiple layovers)
- Southwest: $95 flat fee
- Lufthansa: $59 (domestic w/in Germany), $69 (w/in EU), $92 (to/from N. Africa/Asia/Mediterranean Countries), $103-126 (intercontinental), $100 (to/from Japan)
- KLM: EUR 30 to EUR 200 depending on destination
- Turkish Airlines: 80 TRY w/in Turkey, $70 USD (minimum) international
Checked Baggage Cost
- American Airlines: $200 all routes ($150 to and from Brazil)
- Delta, Southwest and United: checked baggage service for pets is not offered
- Lufthansa: $92 (domestic w/in Germany), $115 (w/in EU), $149 (to/from N. Africa, Asia, and Mediterranean Countries), $172–218 (intercontinental), $200 (to/from Japan)
- KLM: EUR 30 to EUR 200, depending on destination
- Turkish Airlines: 120-260 TRY (depending on size of pet) within Turkey, $140 USD (minimum) international
Transport Pets as Air Cargo
Estimating the cost of shipping your pet dog, cat, or other animal via air cargo is where things get complicated. Most airlines charge by dimensional weight, which includes the weight of your pet, including their crate, and the dimensions of the crate. The algorithms used by cargo departments can be pretty complicated and very hard to estimate, especially for international transport, as many factors affect the estimate, including the cost of fuel, which can vary frequently.
Simply put, the cost to ship your pet as air cargo is going to be considerably more than flying with it in the cabin or flying it as checked baggage. Why is this? Basically, when flying as air cargo, your airline will track your pet via an air waybill from the origination airport through the layover airport(s) to the destination airport. The airline is responsible for the care of your pet from the moment it is checked in at the cargo facility. This class of service is a bit different than pets flying as checked baggage, where the owner has more responsibility to provide for care at layover airports when applicable.
In addition to the cost involved, almost all commercial airlines will require that a licensed agent book your pet’s transport as air cargo. Agents will charge a fee for this service, which can vary significantly depending on the services required and the extent of documentation involved. As shipping a pet can get very complicated, the peace of mind knowing an expert is handling your pet’s transport is worth the cost.
If you need an estimate of the cost to ship your pet as air cargo, then we can provide you with a free quote for our services.
The International Pet and Animal Transport Association (of which we are a member) is a worldwide organization of licensed transporters who can help you ship your pet safely. You can search for an agent in almost all countries worldwide by name, country, or airport on their website.
You can also contact us if you have any questions about shipping your dog, cat, or other animal as air cargo.
As the costs of shipping your dog, cat, or other animal as air cargo are significantly higher than in the cabin or as checked baggage, why would a pet owner ship their pet using this option?
- The destination country requires it. (Examples are UK, UAE, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and others).
- The owner or their representative cannot accompany their pet.
- The pet is being shipped for commercial purposes.
- The dog or other animal is very large (generally over 100 lbs. including crate).
- The airline does not offer checked baggage services for live animals.
Transport by Private Jet Charter
Chartering a private jet is the ultimate in shipping a pet. Your dog, cat or other animal can fly with you in the cabin, relaxing and enjoying the trip either on your lap or right next to you, depending on their size (of course). Here are some of the benefits of chartering a private jet:
- You can book your trip according to your schedule.
- No security or check-in lines at the airport.
- Temperatures are not a concern.
- Any size pet can fly safely in the cabin with you.
- There are no distractions from other pets or passengers.
- You can choose in-flight options.
- You have 2 private captains to serve you.
- You can fly from and to anywhere in the world.
Although the cost for a private jet is considerable, it will be the experience of a lifetime for both you and your pet. You can click here to find sample prices to ship your dog or cat via private jet charter.
Other Important Costs for Pet Transport
There are other costs to consider as well when transporting a pet, especially internationally. Some of these include:
- Cost of a crate or carrier and accessories
- Veterinary and lab costs for tests, vaccinations and health certificates
- Import permits (if required)
- Government endorsement (if required)
- Pre- and post-travel inspection (if required)
- Quarantine costs (if required)
- Entrance fees (if required)
- Value Added Tax (VAT) (depending on the purpose of travel)
With all the considerations involved, it is best to start early when planning to transport your pet because the costs can be significant. Certainly, it is worth the cost to bring your pet dog, cat, or other animal with you when you relocate to a new destination, take an extended vacation, or rescue a pet who does not have a home; however, costs can be sizeable when traveling far distances, and being aware of those costs early on will allow you the ability to budget for them.
Here’s the skinny: healthier pets are better travelers. Getting your pet in shape to travel will require lots of lead time, so start changing feeding habits early on.
A shocking report recently issued by Pet Obesity Prevention that states that over half of the dog and cat population in the United States. is overweight. UK pets suffer with the same problem.
If your pet weighs over 15% of its ideal weight, it qualifies as overweight
Last year, pet owners with one unnamed insurance company paid over 25 million dollars to vets to treat obesity-related issues. Why? Pets who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of a range of serious health problems, such as diabetes, joint damage, ruptured cruciate ligaments, increased blood pressure, urinary incontinence, skin and hair coat issues, and digestive issues. These are all common problems that affect obese pets.
Overweight pets are also prone to a poorer quality of life and less ability to exercise like they should.
Getting your pet in shape to travel is a very smart thing to do for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few of them.
Better chance of traveling the cabin
For example, if your pet is a smaller breed (under 19″ in length) whose average weight is around 11 to 15 pounds, they will be able to travel in the cabin area of a plane as long as your airline pet policies allow for that. However, if a pet of the same breed is obese and weighs 20+ pounds, your pet will not meet the weight requirement for in-cabin travel. This especially pertains to international travel, where the weight of a pet plus its carrier is checked more carefully.
Less breathing problems
Most dogs pant to regulate body temperature (since the sweat glands in their paws are basically inefficient). When a dog pants, heat escapes through the moisture of its tongue, mouth, and throat. As it exhales during panting, the moist air evaporates and keeps your pet cool.
When a dog is overweight, regulating body temperature becomes difficult, and heavy panting occurs. Heavy panting causes stress, anxiety, and dehydration. It can also lead to heat stroke.
There is a better chance your pet will withstand the rigors of traveling and a new environment
A healthy pet will have increased stamina, a better tolerance of weather conditions, and better breathing capabilities. All of these factors play an important role in adjusting your pet to traveling to new places.
How do you know whether your pet is overweight?
You should be able to see your pet’s ribs slightly through their skin as they walk and easily feel them when you run your hands along their sides. There should be a distinct pinch in the waist, after the ribs, and before the hips. Look for an hourglass shape when you look down at your pet’s spine.
What you can do to get your pet in shape to travel
The first step is to figure out your pet’s ideal weight. Your veterinarian can assist you with this. Then determine your pet’s current weight. If you are not due for a vet visit, just weigh yourself, then pick up your pet, weigh yourself again, and subtract the bigger number from the smaller number.
Depending on their level of exercise, the amount of calories your cat or dog needs can vary greatly. Obviously, if you have an active breed of dog or cat, they will need more calories than a sedentary one.
Don’t substitute food for affection. Dogs associate food with fuel and energy. If given the opportunity to overeat, they will take it. If you want to show your dog love, then give them attention, not extra food.
Here are tips to control your pet’s weight:
- More exercise for both of you. This is the most effective way to help your pet lose weight.
- Make sure that you are not overfeeding your pet. Your veterinarian can help with this, or you can do some research on your own.
- Don’t leave your pet’s food out all day. Mealtime should be scheduled at the same time every day. Give your pet a reasonable time to finish their meal, then remove their food bowl.
- Give love, not treats; reward your pet’s good behavior with love and attention, not high-calorie treats.
- Make them work for their food. Many toy manufacturers make toys that will distribute food slowly such as Kong toys. Find a food bowl with a maze that will slow your dog’s feeding time down.
- Give your pet water with food, especially dry food. Water will create a feeling of fullness.
- Add vegetables to your pet’s food. Green beans and some carrots will add bulk but few calories to their dinner.
- Slowly limit the amount of food that you give your pet. Slowly.
- Consider a slow transition from a carb-based food to a fresh diet. Less convenient, for sure, but better for overweight pets.
- Monitor their weight and measure it every week. One to two percent per week weight loss is ideal.
- Read the label and be aware of the ingredients in your pet’s chow. More protein, which takes longer to digest, and fewer carbs, which are more easily turned into fat, are best.
- Try speaking to your veterinarian about putting your pet on a low-fat diet.
- Get out and get going. Again, the more exercise that your pet experiences, the easier it will be to lose weight.
Many vets consider animal obesity to be the most preventable pet health crisis facing the United States and the United Kingdom. As with preparing in advance to acclimate your pet to its crate or carrier is important, so is getting your pet in shape to travel.
The focus here will be how to mentally prepare your pet for traveling, whether by car or air. This preparation is crucial to lessening the stress that your pet may feel on travel day.
There are two major reasons why your dog or cat may be anxious when traveling. First, you are removing them from their known environment, which they have explored and feel comfortable in. Second, and especially when flying, they will be separated from you during this time and cannot draw support from your presence. There are ways that you can address both of these fears before hitting the road, but it will take some time.
Let’s take a brief moment to look at how dogs and cats learn. The first way is through social cues such as smells, body language, and verbal commands. This form of learning is useful to help your pet make day-to-day decisions about things they encounter; however, this information comes to them primarily from their surroundings and not so much from humans. And, for most animals, scents and smells will trump verbal commands. This is because scent is an extremely important part of learning for your dog or cat. More on that later.
The second form of learning is referred to as conditioning. This type of learning is imposed on your pet by humans and is used a lot in behavioral training. Conditioning is a crucial tool that can be used to lessen stress for your pet when traveling, and it will result in building experiences well ahead of time.
How can you use this technique of conditioning to prepare your pet for traveling? Simply put, when you take the steps to introduce your pet to its crate or carrier and to being removed from its environment (and maybe you), you create experiences for your dog or cat to remember. That is why dogs and cats who have traveled previously are better travelers because they have prior experience to draw upon. And they know that, in the end, they will be happily reunited with you because you will practice doing that over and over again.
The time and steps it takes to complete the process depend on your pet, its personality, and its willingness or interest to learn. If you are lucky enough to skip a step, that is awesome. If you are not lucky, you may have to back up a step and try again. Either way, set aside time each day to work on conditioning your dog or cat to travel. Patience is paramount here. Stay strong, positive, and consistent. The payoff will be worth the effort.
Get good Equipment
Start by getting your equipment early. If you have a small dog or cat, it may be able to travel in a pet carrier. If your pet is larger or your airline requires it, your pet will travel in a pet crate. Either way, it is important to introduce this new home to them as early as possible. Making a last-minute decision to travel with a pet is not a good idea unless your dog or cat is a seasoned traveler.
Introducing the New Home
Once you have received your carrier or crate, put it in a place where it is easily accessible and as close to where you and your pet spend your day as possible. Take time to introduce the crate or carrier. Keep all access available; keep the zippers open and flaps up; and only use the bottom half of the crate.
Put a pet pad, favorite toys, and a treat or two inside the crate. Also, include a “used” t-shirt or towel of yours so that your pet will smell your scent when in the carrier or crate. (hence the reference in the paragraph about social cues above). Personalize the crate or carrier for them and make it their second home—their safe place.
Spend time each day encouraging your pet to venture inside the carrier or crate. Feed them there if room permits. Encourage them to sleep in their carrier or crate by putting their bedding in it if room allows. Remember that conditioning your dog or cat for travel involves rewarding them for good behavior, so treats and attention at every step of the way are crucial for success.
Don’t get discouraged if your pet is slow to adapt to its new home. Remember that your pet? learns also from your body language. Stay upbeat and try various methods to encourage them to stay inside the crate. (new toys, catnip, etc.)
When some level of comfort is achieved, then put the top half of the crate and the door on, but leave the door open. Note if their willingness changes. More time and attention may be needed at this point.
Once your dog or cat is comfortable in the carrier or crate, close it while your pet is in it; however, stay with them and offer verbal encouragement. This step should be performed multiple times for longer periods. Should your pet object when the door is closed, keep it open for a while before closing it.
Next, move them to a place where they cannot see you. Again, do this for short periods at first, then longer periods, and always, when returning, reward them for their good behavior with treats and attention.
Introducing the car
Now it’s time to introduce the car. Whether you are flying or driving, you will likely start your travels in a car. It is better to have your pet in the carrier before leaving the house, but this may not be possible for larger dogs.
If you hear objections to this step the first time, don’t start the car. Just put them in, wait for 5 or 10 minutes with them, take them back into the house, and let them out. If you do not sense signs of stress, start the car and either just let it idle or drive around the block. Short trips, then longer trips. Each time, remember to reward good behavior and never punish bad behavior.
If one of the few times your pet has been in the car is to go to the veterinarian, you will need to undo this experience, as it certainly was not a happy one for them. Creating happy experiences will go a long way in conditioning your pet for traveling.
Go somewhere fun
The next step is to take your dog or cat somewhere fun: the dog park, a pet store, or the home of a pet-friendly friend or relative. Again, lots of “good boys” or “good girls” when you get home, and don’t forget the treats.
This step may be a bit difficult with cats, so you may want to take them to a pet-friendly restaurant or anywhere where your cat can stay with you while in its carrier. The more your pet is removed from their environment, the better. After all, the goal is to build experiences for them, right?
The cargo hold
If your pet is flying in the cargo hold of an airplane, it is hard to create the environment they will be in. One thing you can do is put them in a dimly lit location in your home while they are in their crate for a while.
Also, try accompanying them through an old-fashioned car wash while in their crate. All the while, reassure them that you are there and closely observe their reaction. When you feel they are ready, send them through on their own. You will have the cleanest car in town, and your pet will have another experience to draw on.
If you have done a good job with the first 5 or 6 steps, then travel day will be like another outing, and the experiences you have created for your pets will be what they draw upon for assurance. Certainly, they should know that you will rejoin them as soon as they finish their new experience because you have done that every step of the way.
Traveling with a pet does not need to be as stressful as it seems if you take the time to train your dog to travel. The payoff for both of you will be significant.
Winter weather is either on its way or is already here, depending on where you live. With winter comes snow and freezing temperatures, so it’s time to think about how to keep your dog or cat safe in the winter. While the weather outside is frightful, these winter pet tips can keep your precious pets snug, safe, and warm.
How long can my dog or cat stay outside?
The amount of time your dog or cat can stay outside depends greatly on its breed (or mix of breeds) and size. Small pets will lose their body heat faster than larger pets. Certainly, the thickness of a pet’s coat will make a difference. Huskies, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Malamutes, Newfoundland, and Bernese Mountain breeds have two coats, which prove to help trap body heat. According to the American Kennel Club, these large-breed dogs can stay outside in weather under 23 degrees for an hour maximum. Smaller or short-haired dogs should only remain outdoors in winter temperatures for 15 minutes.
Owners of brachycephalic (short or flat-nosed) breeds should understand how harmful freezing temperatures are for their pets. Because these breeds have inefficient airways and tend to pant more, they are more susceptible to extreme temperatures in the winter and summer.
- French Bulldog
- Boston Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Brussels Griffon
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- Japanese Chin
- Lhasa Apso
When is it time to bring your pets inside?
Unless your pet is a breed that is heavily coated and accustomed to living in cold environments, when the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to provide shelter for them. These temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia. If possible, bring them inside with you. Just remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
Many states and municipalities have passed tethering laws, which make it an offense to keep a dog outside when restricted for more than a certain amount of time. Pet owners should verify they are not breaking any local or state laws in this regard.
What if I cannot bring my pet inside?
If not in your home, then make a warm place for them in your garage or provide them with a draft-free shelter that is not much larger than the size of your pet when standing. The floor of the shelter should be raised from the ground. Cover the floor of the dog house with straw or provide bedding such as self warming pet pads and other insulating material. The door should be covered with plastic or other wind-blocking, water-proof material.
Check their water frequently to ensure it has not frozen. Feed them more than normal, as they will need fuel to keep themselves warm. Consider a self-warming pet pad (on sale now). This pad will reflect your pet’s body heat back to your pet. Great for outdoor or indoor pets that need a bit of extra heat.
Keeping Your Pet Warm
Many people misunderstand the purpose of an animal’s coat of fur. Although it may be plush and beautiful, it is not always the perfect insulator, and if your pet has short hair or is hairless, they are even more vulnerable to the cold. To help prepare your pet for warmth, start with a dry, draft-free shelter with plenty of food and water.
Pet Clothes: Good or Bad Idea
The real answer is: it depends. There is nothing wrong with dressing your dog for the season, as long as it does not inhibit breathing or movement. Cute clothes for cats are usually not a good idea. They are more stubborn than dogs and could actually do more harm than good. In cold weather, keep cats (even outdoor ones) inside with a warm blanket, and they should be fine.
Keep the Outdoor Adventurers Inside
If you have a dog that spends most of its time romping in your backyard or a cat that whiles away the day in a sunny patch on the front porch, winter’s arrival may be a rude awakening. Pets are at risk of getting frostbite or hypothermia, just like humans. If your pet has been playing in the snow, protect their paws from salt or antifreeze spills with booties or petroleum jelly before they go out. It is very important to clean their paws, ears, and coat when returning inside.
Make sure they are suitably entertained when inside. Boredom can bring on destructive behavior.
Tis the Season for Poisons
Coolant and/or anti-freeze can spill in the parking lot, garage, or driveway and are extremely poisonous to pets. Unfortunately, dogs love the smell and taste of anti-freeze. So, it is important to keep an eye on them when around these areas. Wipe paws, legs, and stomach when returning from the rain, sleet, or ice. If your dog licks rock salt from the street, call your veterinarian immediately.
Save a Cat
Cats love to be warm and cozy, especially in the winter. Since they don’t know any better, what better place than an engine compartment? This unfortunate accident causes numerous cat deaths each year. Save a life this year by banging loudly on your hood. This will give any sleeping cats a chance to vacate their hideout before turning on the motor.
Report a Crime
What to do if you see a dog or cat left outside in extremely cold temperatures. We encourage you to contact local law enforcement agencies, because leaving pets outside in cold temperatures is a crime, especially without shelter. Their owners are at risk of facing criminal charges. One of the most common forms of animal cruelty is leaving animals outside in in winter weather and these cases are investigated more by police and animal control agencies than any other form of animal abuse. Do your part and gently remind the owner or report the abuse to local authorities.
It doesn’t take much to keep your dog or cat safe in the winter when things get frosty. Just like us, our feline and canine friends need shelter, warmth, food, and care. When winter’s chill sends you scurrying indoors, don’t forget your furry four-footed pals and their simple needs during this season.
If you and your pet are planning to ride in a car or fly in the cabin of an aircraft, the first thing you need to do is measure your pet. If your pet is at most 18 inches from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and between 12 and 14 inches high from the top of the head to the ground, there is a good possibility that your pet can travel in the cabin with you if your airline’s pet policies allow it. If your pet is larger than that, they will have to travel as checked baggage. Very large dogs, unaccompanied pets, or pets flying to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, or South Africa will need to travel as air cargo.
In Cabin Pet Travel
Unless your pet must fly as air cargo, contact the reservation department of the airline and notify them that you are flying with a pet. Most airlines allow only a limited number of pets in the cabin, so make your reservations early. Ask the airlines the dimensions under the seat in front of you on the plane that services your route so you know what space you have to work with. If you do not have a flexible airline pet carrier, you need to get one. The airlines will require that your pet is able to stand up and turn around in the carrier. Do not stuff your pet into a carrier that is too small. The airlines will not accept your pet on the plane.
Additionally, the carrier must have a waterproof bottom and plenty of ventilation. The fasteners and zippers must close securely. An absorbent pad or two are really a must, especially for long trips. A high-quality, padded shoulder strap is a big help, especially if you have other carry-on items. Your pet carrier will be considered by the agent as a piece of carry-on luggage.
Checked Baggage Pet Travel
If your pet is too large to travel in the cabin but not over about 70 (or so) pounds, your pet can fly as accompanied checked baggage if your airline offers this class of service. You will check them in at the ticket desk, where luggage is checked. Your pet will fly in an area of the airplane that is temperature- and pressure-controlled, just like the cabin. You will need an IPATA-compliant cargo pet crate.
- Your crate should be made of sturdy plastic and large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around.
- The fasteners must be secure, and many airlines require steel nuts and bolts instead of plastic fasteners.
- The crate must have adequate ventilation in the sides, and all four sides must be ventilated on international flights.
- Live Animal stickers with writing that is at least one inch tall must be present on the sides and top of the crate.
- Food and water bowls must be attached to the door of the crate and accessible to baggage handlers.
- The lock on the door of the crate must be a spring lock mechanism that cannot be opened easily. (Many pets are clever escape artists!)
- No wheels are allowed on any crates.
- Unless the crate is of a medium size or smaller, handles are not allowed.
- On international flights, a health certificate must be attached to the outside of the crate for inspection.
- Pet absorbent pads are a good idea to keep your pet dry and smelling good.
Here is information on how to measure your pet for a pet crate.
Cargo Pet Travel
If your pet is over 70 pounds (for most airlines), you will need to make a reservation with the cargo department of the airline. Ask them the location of the cargo department of the airport you are traveling from because you will need to drop off your pet at that location. Your pet can travel on the same flight as you and will be in the same compartment as if they were traveling as checked baggage. The crate they will travel in will be subject to the same requirements as those above. If a giant airline cargo pet crate does not fit your pet, you need to contact the airline for a carrier or the IPATA regulations for crates for larger pets, or contact us at email@example.com for custom crates.
Whether your pet travels in an airline pet carrier or a cargo pet crate, be sure to give your pet time to become acclimated to the carrier. Keep the pet carrier out where your pet can become familiar with it. Put a toy or treat inside, and always keep the door open. Don’t forget lots of praise when your pet goes inside. If possible, take your pet for a trip to the dog park or someplace fun in the carrier or crate before your trip. Doing all of these things ahead of time will make the trip far smoother when travel day arrives.
More information on airline pet carriers and cargo pet crates.
October marks the beginning of fall. This means cool nights, colder temperatures, and who can forget, Halloween! It is a time for our kids to become two legged monsters, ghouls, superheroes, and princesses, to enjoy friends, trick-or-treating and lots of candy. But what about our four legged kids? Loud noises, poisonous foods, and hazardous decorations are just a few reasons to keep an eye on your pet over the holiday. To insure everyone has a “fiendishly” good time here are suggestions for keeping your pet safe on Halloween.
Sweets and treats are for the kids, not your pets. This is one of the most common traumatic accidents that can happen to your pet on Halloween. Chocolate can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. Chocolate contains a naturally occurring stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Unlike people, dogs and cats can’t metabolize this compound, so its stimulant effects are amplified.
Pets who consume chocolate can experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures and even death. If your pet has consumed a large amount of chocolate or any other sweet, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you bake with artificial sweetners, keep those treats out of the paws of your furry friends as well.
Keep your dog’s or cat’s treats (biscuits or the like) to what they are accustomed to which will avoid stomach upset.
If your pumpkins have candles flickering in them, keep your pets away. Curious noses and paws can get burned and sudden movements can tip the pumpkin over. The same goes for any lighting you may hang for the holiday.
Is your pet an escape artist? Watch them! With trick-or-treaters coming and going all night you will probably be opening your front door many times. The constant screaming and/or costumes could possibly induce stress for your pet. Constantly check for your pet each time you open and close your door and be sure that your pet has identification tags should they take off after Dracula.
Additionally, know your pet’s tolerance for strangers at the door. Even the most familiar faces will be strange to your pet with masks and makeup. Isolate your pet in a closed room if you know it will be a disturbance to your visitors. After all, they don’t understand what is going on. All of these people are coming knocking on the door that may not normally do so.
Despite the fact that the dressing up and all antics involved in this celebration of All Hollows’ Eve is understood by humans, your dogs and cats can’t possibly understand the excitement. Be sure and keep them isolated if they are not party animals, are territorial or not very friendly towards ghosts and princesses and other little people coming to your door.
Be considerate of your pet if you dress them up in costumes. According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners spend over $200 million each season on holiday costumes for pets, dressing up almost 11.5% of their furry friends. Costumes that limit mobility or visibility for an animal will certainly not make them happy. Depending on your dog’s breed and size, delicate costumes with beads and decorations should be closely monitored to make sure pets do not ingest things that they shouldn’t.
Costumes are cute, but be careful! Let’s face it, everyone loves a cute pet costume; but does your pet? Make sure the costume does not limit their movement, comfort, hearing, sight or ability to breathe, bark or drink. Introduce them to the costume at home before Halloween so you can observe their behavior, ensure they are comfortable and be sure the costume does not restrict their movement.
For those pet owners living in warmer climates, the costume should not overheat your dog. Remember a simple Halloween bandana might be a better idea than dressing your pet from head to tail.
In any case, don’t remove your pet’s collar with its ID tag. Make sure your contact information is current for your pet’s microchip just in case a scary moment allows for a dash into the dark.
Trick or Treating
If your pet accompanies you and your friends or children, have an adult hold the leash. Children as so distracted during this ritual and should not be given the responsibility of holding the family dog during the trek for treats. Keep your dog on the street while your tricksters go to the door to get their treats. This will help to avoid any chance meetings with another pet residing in the treater’s house.
Use a non-retractable, traditional leash which will provide more control over your dog’s behavior during this exciting time.
Here are some other tips to help you:
- Confine your pet. Especially if it is not accustomed to small children or it will make a dash for the open door, crate it or designate a special room for it during trick or treat time.
- No doorbells. Put a sign on your door not to use the doorbell; to knock instead. Better yet, sit outside if weather permits and greet your ghooly visitors before they get to your door.
- Watch out for candles. Inquisitive pups and kitties can nose around your carved pumpkin and stick their nose into hot candle wax through those wide eyes you carved.
- Be careful with costumes. Unless your pet is accustomed to dressing up, watch them if they are dressed up. Costumes can get hot and restrictive. Do not use any rubber bands to hold material down. They can quickly work their way into your pet’s skin and cause infections. Your pet can also ingest them which would most likely cause some stomach upset.
- No candy, please. If you must give your pet a treat on this festive occasion, make it a little dog biscuit. Chocolate and sugar can make them sick, and who wants to clean up the mess?
- Identify them. Make sure your pet’s collar and tag always stays on this night. Having them microchipped and registering your information is the best thing to ensure you will be found if your pet gets lost.
Being responsible with your furry children doesn’t mean they can’t have fun! A great idea is to keep your pets treats handy for when they want to indulge as well. Keeping your pet safe during Halloween is always important, but especially when ghouls are about in the night!
Whether the event is New Years Eve, Fourth of July or just a celebration, fireworks, flashing lights and loud booms can be pretty scary for many cats and dogs. So how do you keep your pet calm on July 4th amidst all the noise and flashes of light?
Did you know that more dogs run away on the evening of the 4th of July than any other day of the year? Thirty percent more dogs to be exact (1). Commonly, the lights and sounds involved will trigger a flight response to safety.
Why do loud noises and flashes spur fear in your pet?
Dogs and cats have pretty sensitive hearing, much more heightened than their humans. Unless they are oblivious to loud noises and flashing lights, you can wind up with your pet under your feet, in your lap or on your head pretty fast.
Studies have shown that almost half of dog owners reported that their dog showed at least one behavioral sign typical of fear when exposed to noises. This fear can begin in puppies or surface in middle-aged or older dogs. In houses with multiple pets, fear can spread as learned behavior from one pet to another.
Additionally, dogs and cats are routine-based and learn from past experiences. A fireworks display or a thunderstorm is not a common occurrence in their lives and tend to disrupt their sense of security. They associate flashes and sounds as dangerous. Because they do not understand the source or reason for the event, this causes them to fear it and increases their anxiety. If they have experienced past experiences (like last week’s thunderstorm or last year’s fireworks) that triggered the same uneasiness, they will naturally have a similar response.
Generally, cats do not suffer as much during these events. Their hearing is not as acute as dogs and their sense of independence can assist them in providing for their comfort and security. Every cat is different and cat owners should pay close attention to their cat’s behavior during these noisy events and provide them with a safe place if necessary.
Tips for keeping your pet calm during celebrations and thunderstorms
Try these tips for keeping both you and your pet calm on July 4th or any other evening where celebrations or thunderstorms occur.
- Stay at home. Taking your pet to a fireworks display is not a good idea. Stay at home with them. The comfort and security that you can offer them will make a difference, despite the fact that it may appear that nothing will calm them.
- Watch out for signs of distress like change in behavior, lack of interaction, pacing, excessive grooming, labored panting, shaking, drooling, crying, barking, spraying, scratching, nausea, aggression or loss of bladder control, pooping or or changes in appetite.
- Offer them comfort. Make yourself available during these events and offer lots of love and hugs.
- Stay on schedule. On the day of the celebration, keep to your pet’s schedule as much as possible. Pets can sense a change in schedule and that can bring on feelings of anxiety.
- Tire them out. Give your dog or cat plenty of exercise before the fireworks begin. Tiring them out may encourage them to rest during the show. Also, make sure they are have an opportunity to do their business so you don’t have to take them outside later.
- Bring them inside and close all the doors, windows and shades before the merriment begins. Although that won’t eliminate the noise, it will help to bring it down a notch.
- Make some noise of your own – turn up the television or music. Turn on the fans. Although your pet’s hearing is better than yours, the sounds may be a distraction and lessen their attention on the booms they hear outside.
- Create distractions. If you can redirect the focus off of the loud noises and flashes of light by playing laser tag or tug of war with your pet, then great. Pick a game with lots of interactions and talk to them all the while you play.
- Don’t discourage or discipline them for their behavior. Abnormal actions such as peeing, pooping, licking, chewing are reactions to stress. Be understanding of these mishaps.
- Give them places to hide if that is what they want to do. Their pet crate, your bed, a closet, the basement or the shower can offer security for your pets. It can be confining if they are comfortable with it. Hide with them if you can fit.
- Wrap them up in a blanket with your scent on it or a large t-shirt if they will let you. The bundling can lessen anxiety in some dogs.
- Lavender is a great scent for calming both you and your pet. You can find it in oil, lotions, air fresheners and other products. Apply it to a towel and wrap your pet in it.
- Sock it to ’em. Another good idea is to cut the toe out of a sock and put the sock over your pet’s head comfortably. The compression of the sock may encourage comfort for your pet. More here about this neat trick for dog calming.
- Be a role model. Your behavior will play a large part in your pet’s comfort. Stay calm yourself and don’t reinforce their fear by going overboard with comfort. Long strokes and even tones are best.
- Consider training. An animal behaviorist may be able to help your pet conquer its fears. Additionally, you can work with your dog using background noise resembling thunderstorms while offering treats and engaging your pup in various games. Over time, they will make the connection when they hear loud noises.
- ID your pet. Make sure your pet has ID tags on their collar with your cell phone number. Better yet, microchip your pet and register your information in the manufacturer’s database. Always keep that information current. Speak to your vet about rabies vaccination registration.
- Stay positive. Don’t get discouraged if these techniques do not ease your pet’s anxiety. Whether it shows in your pet’s behavior, they will appreciate your attention nonetheless.
- What else to do. You can try pheromone diffusers and calming collars which may or may not work. If you feel that your pet suffers despite your efforts, you can talk to your vet about a tranquilizer, Benadryl or an all natural pet calmer.
- CBD has known effects for some dogs; however, it is best to speak to your veterinarian before using this product and plan to use it during normal circumstances to witness your pet’s behavior.
- When the fireworks are all over, tell them so. “All done” is something everybody understands.
- Give them a treat to celebrate and have a great holiday together.
Hopefully, these tips for how to keep pets calm on July 4th will help you both get through the merriment.
(1) Humane Society (HSSV.org)
Famously known as “man’s best friend,” let’s be honest! Who wouldn’t love to travel better with their dog? It only seems natural that our four-legged companions travel alongside us in our journeys, whether small or large. However, travelling with a canine may seem quite intimidating and it really is a test of their obedience and skills. So, how can training your dog to travel make your trips smoother and more fun for everyone? Simply put, it’s a matter of clarifying expectations.
These training tips cover everything from car trips, to hotel visits, to new and exciting locations.
Hopefully, these tips on how to travel better with a dog can put you at ease so you can further prepare your travel plans for you and your furry friend.
Why is training your dog to travel important?
Controlling your dog’s behavior is essential to avoid incidents of bad behavior. When dogs are presented a new environment, many forget who is boss and the distractions can outweigh the desire to obey its owner.
Before traveling, be sure to establish yourself as its “pack leader”. Here are some signs that you need to work on this:
- Desire to pull you along during its walk
- Jumping on you or others without encouragement
- Slow to respond or nonresponsive to commands
- Less than affectionate barking for demands (food, attention, play, etc.)
- Inappropriate behavior around others
If you note any of these behaviors, then get to work on establishing your authority over your pup. Traveling will be much easier if you take the time to train your dog for travel.
Introduction to training
Figure out what your dog needs to learn
This sounds silly, but it is good to identify what commands your dog needs to learn ahead of time. Sit, stay, come, lie down are examples but may not be everything you need your dog to know. For more on this topic, read on. Every session should include one to three lessons depending on your dog’s capacity to learn. For more on this topic, read on.
Find a small, low calorie treat that your dog absolutely loves (what dog doesn’t like treats?). Generally, dogs are very motivated by special treats, making them the perfect reward. If your dog is picky and no treat satisfies them, plan to identify a way to reward them for good behavior. Attention and praise are also good substitutes.
Find a quiet place
Distractions are a killer when it comes to training a dog. You will need their full attention. Another dog, a squirrel or even traffic can totally ruin the mood. Inside the house is a great option if you are a one-pet household. Your dog should be in good health and not nursing any injuries that would impair them to focus on you.
Keep instructions short and firm
When you’re deciding what commands to use, keep your words short and sweet–“come” rather than “come here,” for example. Say your dog’s name first to get their attention, and then give the command. Keep your wording consistent so your dog doesn’t get confused. You may need to raise your voice a bit to get their attention.
Always use positive reinforcement in training – never punish your dog for getting things wrong. They won’t connect the punishment to their action, and will only learn to fear you. Instead, reward your dog when they get things right, with a tasty treat or a belly rub. When things go wrong, try again. Keep treats in your pocket until a reward is merited.
Repeat – Repeat – Repeat
Dogs learn from past experiences. Just because your dog responds correctly to a command once, doesn’t mean it will happen again. Repetition is the best way to train your dog for traveling.
Size up your dog’s ability to learn
As for how long will it take for your dog to learn necessary skills, it can vary. Some breeds (like Border Collies German Shepherds and Dalmatians, for example) are known for being intelligent and fast learners, and they may pick up skills in a matter of minutes. Other dogs will take a little more time and patience.
Now that you have an idea of how to train, we’ll move in what to train in order to travel better with your dog!
Condition your dog to car trips
One of the best tips we can offer for how to travel better with a dog begins as early as puppyhood.
Conditioning your puppy to car trips from a young age is critical to ensure that your pup is calm, comfortable, and without stress during car trips, both short and long.
John from Allthingsdogs explains to us just how essential the socialization period is in the puppy. Early socialization includes the exposure to not only other dogs and humans, but also different environments (i.e. car trips and various locations).
By conditioning your puppy to car trips, you ease any predisposition to fear, anxiety or even motion sickness woes which they may have.
You can help ease any initial or on-going car trip woes with toys and familiar blankets. An excellent idea is to have specific “car toys” which are made special by only being kept or used during car time. This helps create a positive experience when it comes to travelling with your pup!
Take short trips and build up to longer trips. And importantly, take trips to happy places like your dog’s favorite trail or park. If their only experience with the car is to go to the vet or groomer, they won’t be a happy camper in the backseat!
Just like us humans, our puppy friends may experience serious injuries from car accidents. We therefore recommend the use of harnesses or doggy seat belts when travelling with your dog.
Training your pup to “buckle up” and be familiar with the use of a harness or other car safety device is essential so that your dog is not put into an unfamiliar restricted situation which may cause distress.
A great idea is to allow your pup to get a feel of the harness or other device at home in a relaxed setting. Let them wear the harness around the house and give them lots of cuddles and treats. Your dog will begin to associate the harness with other positive things and therefore they will not find the restriction so intimidating!
Crate train your dog
Crate training your dog is a great training tip for travel.
Training your pup to sleep in a crate encourages your dog to sleep in one area. This is a great option when staying away from home.
Additionally, crate training also enables your dog to have a “safe-zone”. Many dogs begin to recognize the crate area as their safe zone which is a plus when they are in an unfamiliar environment or around unfamiliar people.
Crates are also useful for the car trips. In fact, some dogs prefer to be in a crate while traveling than to be buckled in on the seat. This is also a more relaxed approach as your pup will have free reign of the crate during travel.
Crates are the most common and often the only method of transporting your pup in-flight. As many of our pets will take to the skies at some point in their lives, the crate is an important tool that will help them feel safe in the air.
Again, positive reinforcement is the best method for crate training. When your pup enters the crate say “bed” or “crate” and then pass on over a treat and some praise. Soon your pup will make their way to crate on command, or just for a snooze on their own!
Train your pup with bathroom cues
Dogs can only hold their bladder for so long, although adult dogs hold their bladder better than puppies. Nonetheless, bathroom cues and stops are an important part of travelling with pets.
To make it easier, we recommend training your pup to go to the bathroom on command through bathroom cues. For example, using the command “potty” or “pee-pee” and popping a treat into their mouth once they go.
Potty training your pup is a common training step during puppyhood. However, we do recommend taking the extra step and practicing your dog to go bathroom on command. This will save a lot of grief during long-distance travel!
Ace your dog’s on-leash skills
Leash training is an essential tool to have down pat when travelling with your pup.
Begin leash training slowly from a young age. First, let your pup run around the house with their lead on. Then, slowly begin to lead him or her around home or the backyard. If they pull, then stop. Begin walking again once they are calm.
When they are walking nicely next to you, praise and send down a treat so that they begin to associate good behaviour with yummy treats.
A well-behaved dog on a leash is a blessing while travelling. There are so many new sights, smells, people, and other animals your dog will get exposed to on a trip. It can be frustrating, and even dangerous if your dog tries to pull toward everything that interests them in an airport or rest stop. Leash training can help greatly with this.
Teach more good manners like “wait” and “quiet”
Teaching your dog to “wait” is a great training tip to help them travel better. If your dog is an unfamiliar environment and runs off, this can be a dangerous situation. Teaching the command “wait” is simple and just requires some positive training methods.
We recommend to begin teaching “wait” before your pup enters a door way, or exits the crate. Ask your pup to “wait”, and slowly open the door, if he/she begins to head out, then close the door. Repeat until your dog finally waits and then give them a treat and some love.
A barking dog can cause a lot of angry holiday-goers, and it is not the most pleasant noise to hear when on vacation or travelling.
Dogs may bark to alert us, grab our attention, and to communicate. However, they can also bark if they are fearful or bored.
We recommend training your dog to be “quiet.” When training, it’s important not to yell or get upset, but actually ignore the barking. Don’t give them any attention. When they stop barking (even for a second!) quickly reward them with a treat and praise.
Keep your dog as comfortable as possible by bringing familiar blankets and toys, and it’s a great idea to exercise them before a trip so that they are tired and sleep through the flight or drive.
Travelling with your furry friend requires proper training and preparation in order for it to be a successful and smooth ride.
Conditioning your dog to the car and to handling new and exciting environments in a controlled manner is essential. Ensuring your dog’s safety along the way to your destination is also critical.
Through the use of positive reinforcement methods, a wide array of training is required in order to prepare your dog for travel.
A dog who is well-socialized and conditioned travels the best. We trust that our top tips will help you train your dog to travel!
Have a paw-tastic and ulti-mutt journey!
John Woods is a graduate in animal welfare and behavior, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.
Traveling with a snub-nosed pet, whether in the car or in an airplane, can bring added risks that owners of these breeds should know about. These risks have brought on restrictions from many commercial airlines due to the number of snub-nosed dogs involved in incidents when flying in the cargo hold.
Which breeds are affected?
All snub-nosed or flat-faced breeds suffer with some degree of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This is a condition that results from the foreshortening of the facial skeleton which is a mutation that is present in and required for the selective breeding of many dog breeds. The American Kennel Club identified the following breeds as being snub-nosed early on: Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu. Further, the following breeds have been classified by many airlines to be at risk of flying in the cargo hold: Affenpinscher, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Cane Corso, Chow Chow, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff, Pekinese, Pitbulls, Shar Pei, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Tibetian Spaniel.
Of these breeds, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs have been found to be most at risk from BOAS.
Affected cat breeds are Persian, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair, as well as Netherlands Dwarf and Lionhead rabbits.
Restrictions get a bit gray with regard to mixes of these breeds. If you are considering flying with a dog or cat what is mixed with one the breeds listed above, then the length of your pet’s nose is important. If your pet has not inherited brachycephalic characteristics from its parents, then it is safer to fly them in the cargo hold. If you are in doubt, contact your airline and arrange to send an image of your pet for their approval. Get the approval in writing if you can as a written approval will help should any issues arise during check in.
Why do we love them?
Why are these breeds so attractive to pet owners? Perhaps the flattened face takes on more human-like appearance? The bulging eyes that some breeds exhibit are more expressive? The snores remind us of our sleeping habits? Whatever the reason, snub-nosed breeds are in high demand, especially the French Bulldog which just took the place of the Labrador and the most popular breed.
Why is traveling risky for snub-nosed breeds and their crosses?
Because the length of the muzzle is so short in snub-nosed breeds, soft tissue blocks the airways in the nose and throat impeding airflow in dogs or cats at a young age and progressively worsens as the pet ages. Additionally, the condition is aggravated when the dog or cat is exercising or under stress as is the case when traveling. Increased respiratory efforts can lead to a collapse of the airway which is why owners of these breeds must take great care when transporting them.
A snub-nosed dog or cat will have a muzzle length less than half of its cranial length. This measurement is defined as the length from the occipital protuberance (crown of the head) to the stop (base, not tip, of the nose).
Generally, this condition is commonly but not exclusively accompanied by a thicker neck girth, nasal fold, wide chest, extended elbows, snorting, snoring and sleep apnea.
Studies have found that obesity will increase the degree that these breeds will suffer from BOAS. This is why it is really important to keep your pup at its ideal weight if it is to travel.
Crosses of these breeds can be similarly affected. Remember, it is not necessarily whether your pet is a purebred member of these breeds; it is the length of the muzzle and the presence of other snub-nosed characteristics that count.
What can owners of snub-nosed breeds do to travel safely with their snub-nosed dogs and cats?
Obviously, ground transport is much safer than air transport for these breeds. If this is not possible, then consider the Queen Mary 2 if you need to get to Europe. If flying is the only alternative, then in-cabin is much preferred to cargo transport. If your snub-nosed dog or cat is too large to fly in the cabin and must fly in the cargo hold, then avoid summer months at all cost as higher temperatures increase the amount of breathing that your dog or cat must do to keep cool.
Hydration is incredibly important and can’t be stressed enough. Whether your snub-nosed dog or cat is traveling by car or in the air, it must have adequate water available.
If you are driving, keep the air conditioning running and the windows up so that the air in the vehicle is cool. Stop often and make sure to offer your pet water every time you stop.
If you are flying with your pet in the cabin, be sure and get a bottle of water after passing security and use a packable water bowl or ask for a glass of ice from the flight attendant. Try offering it to your pet by extending your hand in the carrier being sure not to let your pet escape.
If your pet is flying as air cargo, get the largest water bowl you can find to attach to the crate door, fill it with water the night before you leave and freeze it. You can find large pet crate water bowls by clicking here. You can also consider training your dog or cat to use a water bottle as well. Confirm that your airline will check your pet’s water bowl during layovers.
Owners of snub-nosed breeds can also consider an herbal pet calmer to ease stress which causes excessive breathing.
Be sure and plan ahead when traveling with a snub-nosed dog or cat. Acclimating it to its carrier or crate will cause less stress on travel day and make it easier for both of you to enjoy your trip.
You can find more information about snub-nosed pet studies here.