Moving With Pets? We Have the Experts’ Advice to Do It Properly

By Heather Corum, CPDT-KA, Obedience Operations Manager at Canine Company

What can we do to reduce our dog’s anxiety and fear when air traveling to relocate to another city or country?

What if the first time you went to the dentist (were you 4 or 5 years old?) they gave you a root canal instead of a lollipop? You would have certainly not gone back without a lot of protest and dread! Even though the ultimate result of the surgery was a much happier and healthier mouth, the journey almost made it not worth the destination.

Keep this in mind when you are planning to take your pet with you on your next vacation, or even if you are moving and they will be making the trip with you by plane or a long car ride. There is a reason why kids get treats or toys as positive reinforcement in their early trips to the dentist; it’s to ensure an overall positive experience and to reduce future anxiety. Keep this strategy in mind when planning future trips with your pets and start that positive reinforcement NOW.

At some point, your dog or cat will need to be introduced to a crate or carrier of some sort, whether it’s for a quick trip to the vet across town or an airplane flight across the country. Don’t let his or her first experience be one that is so fraught with anxiety and fear of the unknown. Introduce a crate to your dog or cat as soon as you are able (it’s not too late, start today!) and make it a positive place where snacks or toys are discovered, where naps are had, and where comfort is found. Name the space (“crate”, “kennel”, “your bed” etc.) and have your pet spend increasing amounts of time in their space.

Remember that the car can be a source of anxiety too, as some animals experience motion sickness in the same way that people do. Introduce your pet to short rides in the car, during which they are either contained in a crate or secured in a harness designed to buckle into the vehicle’s safety restraint system. Try to limit the number of treats you provide so you do not upset their stomach during the ride, and provide fresh air and water breaks as needed.

Traveling with your pet can be a very positive experience for all involved, as long as you take the time ahead of the trip to familiarize them with the basics of containment, motion, and reinforcement.

Read more advice for relocating with pets at Porch.com