As a pet parent, a road trip with a furry kid might seem like a dream come true. You’d love the opportunity to bond and share new experiences with him, and you’d certainly appreciate the company. But before you load your beloved pet into the car for the long haul, take a moment to reflect. A pet who’s a great companion at home, on walks, and on short trips around town won’t necessarily be an ideal travel buddy. Long trips aren’t right for every pet, and your pet’s needs should come before your desire to take him along.
Does My Pet have a Road-Worthy Temperament?
Like people, dogs have a wide range of different temperaments. Some are laid-back and easygoing, while others are nervous and high-strung. If your pet is adaptable, easy to please and likes new places and new people, he’s likely to be a great travel buddy. However, if he’s nervous by nature, skittish about car rides, or anxious when confronted with something new, chances are, he’s not ready for a long trip. If your pet is nervous or fearful, don’t despair – with some training, he may eventually become a great pet traveler. He just may have to stay home this time around.
With appropriate training, commitment, and patience, most temperament problems can be overcome. Your pet can become less sensitive to stimuli, and more suited for travel. That said, desensitizing training techniques aren’t a quick fix. You’ll need to dedicate the time, offer a lot of leeway and understanding, and let your pet set the pace.
Will This Trip be Fun for my Pet?
Will your pet be comfortable? Did you plan pet friendly activities he will enjoy? Your dog might love an impromptu hiking trip through the mountains or a glorious day on the beach, but he may not be so thrilled to share your mother’s tiny apartment with her cats while you head off to the golf course or sit alone in a hotel room during your out-of-town business meetings, (in fact, many pet friendly hotels don’t allow pets to stay alone in rooms). You know your dog best, so you are the best person to judge whether this trip will be an enjoyable one for him – if not, you can adjust your plans to be more pet friendly, or you can let him stay home where he’s sure to be comfortable.
Is My Pet in Good Health?
If your pet is injured or under-the-weather, you may be tempted to take him along on your trip so you can watch over him. After all, no one will care for him like you do! However, it may be best for your pet to stay behind under the care of trusted friend or family member. You will be busy driving, after all, and you won’t really keep vigil over him. The trip may make him tired, distressed or uncomfortable – factors that will be difficult to remedy far from home. A pet in pain or discomfort may even act out, which won’t make for a pleasant trip for either of you.
If your pet is elderly, but in good health, you’ll need to make a judgment call. If he enjoys taking car trips and visiting new places, taking him along may very well be good for him. If he likes trips, but becomes uncomfortable easily, he may be better off at home. If you’re undecided, a quick trip to consult with your vet can help you figure out whether a road trip is in your pet’s best interest.
If your pet suffers from travel anxiety, routinely taking him on brief trips, or planning occasional trips that end up somewhere exciting and fun can help teach him that traveling is a rewarding experience. If your pet experiences motion sickness during car rides, all is not lost – a number of remedies exist to help alleviate his suffering, including reconditioning, traditional medications, and holistic remedies.
If your pet is up for it, hitting the road with him can be a fantastic way to break up the blahs, have some fun adventures, and spend some quality time together. However, even if your pet isn’t perfectly suited for travel right now, it doesn’t mean he never can be.
Safe travels and happy tails!
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