How do you prepare your dog for a long travel journey? This is a question that I have been asked many times, and I would love to share some of our tips to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Steps that I took to prepare Mya as a young dog have certainly helped with her ability to travel with me; both on shorter weekend adventures and for longer ones such as our journey to North America.
Simple Obedience & Socialisation
The importance of basic obedience and socialisation of your pup is invaluable. From when Mya was about 8 weeks old, I had her in puppy training and then she graduated to obedience and advanced obedience training. Not every dog is lucky enough to find their forever home as a young puppy, but with time, patience and effort, I’ve seen dogs who were adopted at later stages of their life, learn these essential skills. This training not only improved our relationship and ability to travel together but also helped Mya learn what was socially acceptable with humans and dogs alike. It’s because of these skills and manners that I know I can have her off lead and that she has been welcomed in restaurants, hotels and many tourist attractions.
I crate trained Mya from a young age. She would sleep in it every night, she learnt that her crate was her own space and it was a “safe” place. It meant that she was still with me in the bedroom, but she had her own place to sleep and I knew she was safe and not getting up to any mischief; as puppy’s do! Even now she enjoys being in smaller spaces and in corners of the room, as I think she associates them with what her crate was like.
Spending Time In The Car
From the moment Mya came into my life, I have tried to bring her everywhere with me. It started with shorter trips in the car, developed into longer road trips including an overnight ferry and more recently an international flight. This all started from her being able to travel within the car. I had to teach her, where she was allowed in the car, so that she was safe and to ensure that she became comfortable within that environment. As time went on, I was able to gauge how long she needed between toilet breaks and time to stretch her legs. Whilst in North America we have driven up to 13 hours in a day and all the work I initially put in to get her comfortable, has certainly paid off.
Since Mya was a young pup I have tried to expose her to as many different environments as I could, so she would be as comfortable as possible wherever I took her. From local dog parks to busy city streets, Mya was exposed to many new sounds, people of all ages and environments as possible. This instilled confidence in her so that she would be well equipped and able to adapt to wherever we may go. This has been apparent throughout our travels as we walked the streets of New York City, skied and mountain biked mountains in British Columbia and Alberta and rafted the Cheakamus River.
Preparing For International Travel
Going overseas is always a big deal for us humans, let alone our pets. I used a few strategies to make Mya feel as comfortable as possible for her international journey. Firstly I collected her airline approved crate at least 3 months prior to our departure. I did this so she could get used to sleeping and spending time in it, with the door open and shut. I used a reward system to support this strategy and put some of her favourite toys inside, to create a familiar smell and environment for her. For the journey itself, I put one of my shirts that I had been wearing inside the crate> I did this so that she would have something with my smell on it, to make her feel like I was there with her (make sure it’s one you don’t care about as it will be thrown out once arriving). Most people stress over how their pets will cope with travelling in a crate, but I can say using these strategies Mya was just fine.
Almost all of these strategies started as soon as Mya came into my life. As a result, she has grown into a confident and well-behaved dog, who has been welcomed throughout our travels. We hope that by sharing these tips with you, they will open up a world of possibilities, for you and your fur buddy. Having Mya by my side, as we explore the world and experience new things, has strengthened our bond and meant I really could enjoy life with my best friend.
Mark and Mya have travelled regularly throughout Australia and in 2017 they flew to North America exploring Canada, the USA and Mexico. If you’d like to follow their adventures for more pet-friendly travel tips and to see some of the opportunities that exist for travelling with your pet you can follow them on Instagram www.instagram.com/mark_and_myas_adventures or Facebook www.facebook.com/markandmyasadventures