Road Trip with your Pet – our top tips
This holiday your engine won’t be the only thing purring on the road.
A change of environment is a leetel more complicated for a pet than it is for you. You know what’s going on; they don’t. You can easily plan for weeks, pack a bag and set your email autoreply; their whole sense of reality and safety comes into question with a sudden change of location. Add to that a long drive and the whole experience takes its toll on your sweet companions.
This guide will help you make the whole experience easier for them. Be prepared, patient and kind, and you’ll earn lots of face-licks, wagging-tails and cuddles.
Dogs – Does your doggie sit, approach and stay on command? Will he listen to you when he’s very excited or scared? Obedience helps you and your dog manage the unexpected on the road.
Cats – Cover the travel box with fabric so they can’t see out. The contained environment and reduced visual information helps them feel safer. Remember to adjust the temperature in the car as it gets hotter in there. You might have to trick Whiskers into reversing into her cat carrier. How? Cover her whiskers with your closing palm when her tail is facing the open entrance. She’ll automatically move backwards! Trust me, works every time.
Dogs – A gentle cuddle before approaching the car might make all the difference to an overexcited or apprehensive pooch …and to a nervous owner!
Cats – remember the litter tray …with clean litter. And keep it clean if kitty uses it on the journey (see number 5 – Rest Stops)
Dogs –A toy/treat that only travels in the car adds a positive spin to the unusual environment and helps with boredom on long trips.
Cats – Keep kitty in the safe box the entire journey for her sake and yours. A panicking cat obstructing the foot break could end your road trip (and both your lives) in a second.
Dogs – Open the windows slightly to balance air pressure and reduce the risk of nausea. But not too much that the noise upsets your pooch. Every dog is different.
Cats – take great care that kitty is still secure in her safety crate before you open a window or a door fully. Tense cats can move like lightning, and you really don’t want Sushi to get lost or, worse, go straight for the busy freeway. If she’s used to a cat leash, use that when (and IF) you let her out en route.
Dogs – a bit of cursory sniffing of poles and plants is part of the process – remember this is unfamiliar territory and all the other dogs (and cats?) left messages when they visited. Humour thy pooch and give lots of praise and patience. It’ll help you both.
Cats – After a day or more, slowly introduce your home spaces bit by bit and reinforce her inside-outside route by giving her treats for returning or using food/a clicker to call her back.
Dogs – Give them lots of love and maybe take a snooze together on the couch. You both deserve it.