If you’re like many pet owners, your pooch is like your child and an important part of your family. As such, if you have to travel this Christmas to see family, you may be thinking about taking your four-legged friend with you.
Doing this is helpful because you don’t have to worry about being taken care of properly by someone else. On the other hand, traveling with your dog can be rather stressful, and you need to consider it carefully. Here are some tips to help you and your dog have a successful Christmas away from home.
Take a trial run
Firstly, it helps to have a trial run with your dog regarding travel before you leave. A controlled test of procedures such as lying down calmly in the car, going to the airport or train station, and having to respond to commands at unfamiliar places (and in unexpected situations) will help to iron out some potential “kinks” and make things less scary for your dog, too.
Test runs may also alert you to possible hiccups, such as your dog struggling to jump up into a car if they have a bad back or knees or a habit of trying to get into the front of the vehicle with you. Testing things in advance will give you time to buy a ramp or other aid or set up barriers to ensure everyone’s safety when traveling with your dog. Also, if your dog has to spend time in a crate or carrier for part or all of the trip, have them get used to this enclosure well before the date you head off for the holidays.
Create a checklist
There’s nothing more stressful than being away from home with your dog and realizing that you’ve forgotten something important related to their care. As such, reduce worry and avoid issues by creating a detailed checklist well in advance of your trip.
Use this list as you pack, so nothing vital gets left behind. In particular, make sure you’ve packed plenty of your dog’s medication(s) if they take such things, including extra packed in a different location if something happens to the first lot. Also, have a script for additional medication on you as an added precaution.
Bring necessary documentation
As you pack, consider all the necessary documentation you might need related to your pet. Apart from scripts, you may require proof that your dog has been vaccinated and wormed, and possibly that they have been neutered, too, depending on where you’re staying and what the accommodation provider asks to see.
Plus, make sure your animal’s microchip information is up to date with all your contact details, including your mobile phone number, since you’ll be away from your primary residence for the holidays. The same goes for your dog’s collar tag.
Pack some home comforts
A helpful way to keep your dog calm, compliant, and happy while you travel is to pack some of their home comforts. For example, take some of their favorite toys and treats to keep them amused and focused, plus their preferred blanket. Even the same food bowl can help to create a safe, positive space for your pet.
In particular, though, if room permits, pack your dog’s usual sleeping accommodation. Whether they’re used to resting on the plushest, waterproof dog beds that money can buy or more pared-back mats or other arrangements, they’ll be used to the feel and smell of their own product. In turn, they’ll settle more quickly if it goes with them on the trip. If you want to take a different bed set up on your journey, introduce it to your dog well in advance of the departure date so they can get used to it for at least a few nights first.
Allow more time for everything when traveling with your dog
When you travel with your pooch, the reality is that things will take longer. You have to get them in and out of vehicles, settle them down, have more pit stops so they can go to the toilet, drink, and eat, and generally take your time. It’s essential, then, to allow more hours to get to your destination and to complete activities once you’re there.
It’s fun and comforting to have our beloved pets with us when we’re away, but going down this route does take patience and commitment. Plan out as much as you can in advance when traveling with your dog, and try to keep your own emotions in check while away so that your dog stays calmer.