Changes in dog behavior when traveling

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Changes in dog behavior when traveling

Traveling with dogs can be a challenge – but it’s nothing you can’t handle! Here’s a few unwanted behaviors to watch out for on your journey, and some tips on how to fix them.

There’s nothing quite like traveling with the whole family; each new trip creates happy memories of laughter and fun. But before you arrive at your destination, you must ride out the journey. Whether you’re traveling by car, train, or plane, it can be exhausting and highly stressful for your canine companion. Take a look at how to keep him happy and comfortable the entire trip.

Causes of pet distress

There are many aspects of traveling that can cause stress in animals, triggering behaviors that are outside their norm. Here are just a few examples, as well as suggestions on how you can provide relief:

Dehydration

Staying hydrated is key! In order to prevent dehydration during long car rides, make a pit stop every couple hours to allow your pet to drink. If you are on a train or plane, try filling his bowl with a block of ice for controlled hydration.

Air pressure

When traveling by plane, help prevent air pressure from building up in your pet’s ears by placing a few chew toys in his crate to encourage jaw movement.

Confined space

Keeping your pet in a crate is one of the safest ways to travel, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be happy about it! Ensure your pet is used to his crate before the trip begins and add a small blanket to make it more comfortable.

Motion sickness

If your pet is prone to nausea while in a moving vehicle, ask your veterinarian for natural treatment suggestions (like ginger). If your pet is traveling as cargo, refrain from feeding him four hours before departure.

Travel-induced changes in pet behavior

If your pet experiences any of the above causes of distress while traveling, you can expect him to display at least one of the following temporary changes in behavior:

Separation Anxiety

Once you have arrived at your destination and your pet is let out of his travel crate, carry on like nothing is amiss. Making too much of a fuss can make him prone to separation anxiety on future trips. Once he’s normalized, give him some extra attention for good behavior.

Hiding

On the other side of the spectrum, your pet may hide underneath furniture or refuse to leave his crate. Ensure he has food and water near or inside his hiding place and give him time to warm up to his new surroundings.

Aggression

Your pet has very little control while in transit, and this may cause him to lash out. Find him a safe space to run around, and ensure he has plenty of durable toys to chew. Both of these activities will help him release some pent up frustration.

Refusal to eat/drink

If your pet was nauseous while in transit, he may not be inclined to immediately refill his stomach. Keep his water dish full and available for when his stomach settles, and offer snacks until his appetite returns.

Self-harm

For many animal species, grooming is relaxing. However, if licking or chewing for cleanliness becomes excessive, it can be more damaging than hygienic. Keep an eye out for excessive grooming, and distract your dog with a toy or a walk.

Please note that although it may seem easier to sedate your pet, many airlines do not transport sedated animals. Instead, reach for a natural calming solution such as lavender essential oil or Rescue Remedy for pets.

If you have questions about traveling with pets, contact a pet relocation company such as Worldwide Animal Travel. They have the experience and knowledge you need to ensure your pet arrives safe and healthy.

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Bruno Mansueto
Born and raised in Vancouver, Bruno is a graduate from the British Columbia Institute of Technology class of 1985. Upon graduating with a major in transportation management, Bruno moved to Toronto and began working with an international freight forwarder. After two years, Bruno returned to Vancouver and was hired as a cargo agent with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. It was with KLM that Bruno became familiar with the air transportation of live animals. After departing from KLM, Bruno did contract work for various airlines, including Lufthansa Cargo, before forming Worldwide Animal Travel in 1998. His love for animals and his cargo background have allowed Worldwide Animal Travel to excel and grow.

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