One of the worst parts of going on vacation is leaving your best friend at home, which is why many people choose to bring them along. If you're taking your dog or cat with you on your next trip, you need to make sure that they're ready for the ride.
Take Practice Car Rides
If you don't want to deal with a stressed-out pup, your vacation probably shouldn't be their first car ride. Start with a drive to the park and see how your dog reacts. If you have a cat, load them into their carrier and go for a drive around the block. The goal is to give them as much time to acclimate as possible; if you can get them used to driving, they'll be able to enjoy the scenery with everyone else. Sometimes the only time your pet goes for a ride is when they are going to the vet, which can cause anxiety from associating car rides with unpleasant experiences. When your pet goes on a walk or to the dog park after a car ride, they begin to associate car rides with fun!
Dr. Marty Becker of VetStreet also recommends that you watch for motion sickness. Even if your dog normally enjoys car rides, they might get motion sick or stress sick during an extremely long trip. Feed your pet a few hours before the trip to give them time to digest. Crack the windows to allow for fresh air and to equalize the air pressure inside the vehicle; pets have very sensitive ear drums, and will notice pressure changes a lot sooner than you do.
Find a Pet Friendly Hotel in Advance
Many hotels that claim to be pet friendly only have a limited number of pet-designated rooms; if you try to show up unannounced, you might be turned away. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, find a hotel that welcomes your dog and book your room in advance. Sites like BringFido offer directories of pet-friendly hotels in nearly any part of the world.
Don't Plan on Rushing
One of the reasons trips are so stressful for pets is the lack of contact with their owners. Make sure you take plenty of breaks along the road to walk your dog and spend a little time with them. If you can wear them out during rest stops, they'll be able to relax and sleep for most of the drive. Budgeting your itinerary for a longer trip also means you'll have time to deal with pet-created situations. When your dog is with you, it might take you a little longer to find a restaurant with outdoor seating or a place where they can run off-leash. Plan for unplanned things to happen, and the trip will be easier on everyone.
Bring a Crate
Crates, kennels, and pet carriers will actually help reduce your pet's stress. The small space will help them feel secure and encourage them to take a nap. Make sure you use a crate your pet is already familiar with; that way, wherever you spend the night, your dog can sleep somewhere that smells like home. Many pet hotels require that you crate your dog if you intend to leave them in the room for any amount of time, so it's good to be prepared. Before you take your pet on a trip, make sure you know that they're ready to travel. Calm animals can become extremely anxious when they leave familiar stomping grounds. Take things slow, practice in advance, and be patient with your pet. If you stay calm, they will follow your lead.