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How to make your dog more comfortable in her carrier

For most pet owners, the initial thought of being thrilled that you can take your pet along with you in-cabin on the flight is almost immediately followed by visions of a nightmare scenario – fearing how disastrous that endeavor might actually be. Going through security gates and check in process can hold anxiety if traveling without a pet. Trying to imagine all the usual issues while finagling a pet can be a daunting thought to say the least. Then there are the worries about getting that pet carrier neatly and snugly under the seat in front of you in a manner that is both comfortable for the pet and not offensive to other passengers. Lastly, there’s that tendency for the pet to be particularly squirmy and anxious when the plane is on the runway taxying for takeoff. The solution can be found by making the carrier as comfortable as possible. Let’s discuss how.

Make the Carrier a Friendly Place

The worst scenario is springing a carrier on the pet for the first time on the day of travel. Since the pet can’t ride on the owner’s lap, the carrier needs to substitute as the next best thing. The noises, movement and experiences on the plane will naturally be a very unsettling experience for the little critter. Every step should be taken to make that all important carrier a familiar and reassuring place to be. To the degree possible, the carrier should have a positive affiliation to the pet as a new travel home.

Making the Carrier Familiar

Using the pet carrier on the day of a scheduled flight should be one among many experiences the dog has already had in his/her carrier. It will make the carrier all that more alluring if it is associated with places that are favorites and experiences that the pet adores – like taking her to a favorite store and getting extra dog treats or an outing to an off-the-leash park. To add positive associations, try tossing favorite treats into the carrier, taking opportunities to give her special loves and tickles while inside the carrier and making certain to include the carrier in game time. Making the carrier a non-threatening and safe place to be will make it a calming factor on the day of travel.

Soft, Comforting Smells, Tastes & Textures

Dog in-cabin, flightBeyond getting the carrier to be a source of comfort and connection, the items inside the carrier can also increase comfort and lessen anxiety. Any toys or favorite items can serve as a distraction to help curb the canine’s nerves. If the pet is a chewer, be certain to provide a rawhide bone or favorite item to chew. Smells can also be crucial. Since the pet will be on the floor in the seat in front of the owner, a soft garment- even a worn-out t-shirt that smells like the owner can reassure the pet. And in the absence of the owner’s arms, sneaking a few fingers inside the pet carrier to give the critter a few reassuring strokes will go a long way to calm anxious nerves.

Preparations on the Day of Travel

Make certain to give the dog a long walk before you leave for the airport. If you want to give an extra measure for relaxation, consider a spritz of lavender spray. You might also consider other sprays to relax your pet during flight (Comfort Zone with DAP or Rescue Remedy Pet). Quite often, the dog is anxious just before takeoff. Once in flight, most dogs become calm and fall asleep.

Catching a Wave with Your Dog

Dogs love to run and play, including on the beach. However, there are some tips to follow, especially to keep dogs safe. Be sure to know whether or not to have a pet on a leash, times they are allowed on the beach and if there are permits needed.

Pet-Friendly Beaches

Knowing where to take the family, including the dogs, before going, will keep frustrations down.

Wyoming – Morad Park allows dogs to run completely free and swim through the North Platte River.

WisconsinPleasant Prairie Dog Swim at Prairie Springs Park offers a designated water park for dogs along the north shore.

Washington has 40 different beaches that dogs may vacation with the family. However, Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is an entirely off the leash park that allows dogs to swim freely.

UtahWillow Creek Park, Dog Park- This park has a floating deck strictly for dogs to enjoy the water.

Texas – Katy Dog Park was made specifically with dogs in mind. This unique park has dog streams, showers and fountains for pets. There are areas specifically for large and small dogs.

Tennessee provides a dedicated pet-friendly park that allows large and small dogs to run, play and swim safely. Located in Knoxville, PetSafe Dog Park at Tommy Schumpert Park, has something for everyone.

South Carolina has over 15 dog-friendly parks and beach destinations. However, Sullivan’s Island allows pets on the beach off the leash during certain times of the day. Be sure to get a permit for the animal or else they are not allowed.

Oregon offers a lot to the family of pets. With over 20 parks and beaches to choose from, the family dog will have a good time running along the shoreline. However, an off the leash park is hard to come by. One of the few in this state is the Sandy River Delta Trailhead.

Tips for Safety at the Beach

  • Going into the water is fun, however, putting a life vest on the pet, can save its life.
  • Do not let the pets drink salt water. Keep a fresh water supply on hand.
  • Cold water should never be drunk by dogs. Keep it lukewarm to keep digestive problems down.
  • Sunscreen should be applied to nose and ears.
  • Swimming in calm waters keeps dogs out of trouble.

Bring the following to the beach

  • Dog food and water
  • Frisbee
  • Umbrella
  • Towels
  • First aid kit

Do not forget to bring bags to collect feces in once the dog has used the restroom. Be sure to have a dog collar with ID tag on at all times.

Caution

Remember, not all dogs can naturally swim. Swimming is a talent that is learned and honed with practice. Before going to the beach, teach every dog how to paddle and to be comfortable in deep waters. Breeds that cannot swim: Shih-Tzus, Daschunds, English and French Bulldogs, Terriers and Pugs.

Dogs have skin issues just as humans do. Therefore, know what causes allergic reactions and how to treat it immediately. Dogs that have terrible allergies: American Hairless Terrier, Chinese Crested, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese and Poodle. Make sure that all dogs are thoroughly washed once done playing on the beach.

Need to Know Tips for Traveling with Dogs

When leaving a pet is not an option, travelling with them can be an incredible adventure. However, before picking up a pet and traveling, may affect the animal. Instead of going in blindly on a trip, prepare for it by following some general tips.

Tips

1. Before travelling, visit the veterinarian; they can provide safe and alternative ways to keep a pet calm, safe and happy during travel.

2. No pet wants to be in a cage too long, so while in the car, let them out. However, do not forget to buckle them in. It is not safe to let them roam within the car.

3. If staying in a hotel, call ahead to make sure they accept pets. Some hotels have a pet weight limit just like apartments. Travelpets and Petswelcome websites offer free lookup services for pet-friendly destinations.

4. The same goes for airplanes as well. If not booking through a travel agent, call ahead to the airlines and find out the fees and weight limits. Pettravel helps with airline policies, passports and other vital information.

5. Always attach pet information: Name, Address, Owner’s name and telephone number, to the pet carrier. Do not forget to make sure that the pet’s ID tag is attached securely to the collar.

6. A USDA approved kennel is important to have to ensure the safety of your pet when travelling. It is important that when traveling, the pet has enough room to stand and lay down. IATA.org has more information on how to calculate the correct dimensions.

7. Lastly, the pet should have a travel kit. Just as humans need emergency supplies, pets need them as well. Here are some items to include in the first aid kit:

  • Car seat/ seat belt
  • Travel bed
  • Dog food bowl
  • Watering system
  • Medicine
  • Treats
  • Chew toy
  • Life Jacket
  • Pet walker (leash, backpack)
  • Cleaning supplies: brush, sanitary bags and pet sprays
  • Sleep aids if necessary

Conclusion

Before making a long trip, it is wise to test each pet. Start out slow with a 20-mile journey. During this voyage, take note on how the pet acts. Some questions to ask while observing the animal:

  • Is the pet antsy?
  • Do they just lay there, scared?
  • Are they uncontrollable?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it is important to face these issues head on before taking any other trips. For a scared or antsy pet, bring things from home that makes them comfortable. Those pets that are uncontrollable, may have to ride in their carrier to keep them calm enough to make the trip.

Once the first test is done and any issues that come up are corrected, try again. On the next test, a longer time should be tested, preferably going for about two hours. Remember, to ask those questions each time, to see how the pet does. If the second go around is successful, traveling with a pet should not be an issue. However, be ready in case things do not go as planned.