Cosmo and I will be leaving on a jet plane this week, heading out to spend Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, just like thousands of others this holiday! According to a survey by PetRelocation.com, 63 percent of pet owner says they travel at least 50 miles with their pets during the holidays. Cosmo's a travel pro at this point, but we put some time into making sure he'd be a well-behaved traveler right from the very start. One of the first things you can do is to make sure you and your pet are comfortable with your travel bag. Here's a few tips to get started!
- Play bag games! When we got our bag, we put it out in the living room and let Cosmo sniff it and get familiar with it. We gave him treats when he touched the bag, and then gave him treats when he got in the bag. Now he knows the command "Go Bag" means that when he gets in and gets comfortable, treats and good things will be coming his way.
- Carry the bag around the house before your trip! Play the bag game with treats, zip up the bag -- with your pet in it -- and make a few laps around the room. Unzip it with a "Good Dog!" ... and more treats.
- Keep a small bag of treats handy at the airport. When you go through security, you'll take your pet out of the bag and carry him through with you. The bag will go through the x-ray screening with your other carry-on items. I typically take Cosmo and our bags to a table on the other end of security and play a little game to put him back in the bag. He gets more treats which of course makes him very, very happy! It takes less than a minute to do all this -- you don't want to draw TOO much attention, but folks typically do stop to talk to us. So be sure to schedule a little extra time when traveling with a pet!
- Stay calm, yourself! There's something to be said about the saying that dogs can feel your nerves at the other end of the leash. If you're a nervous Nelly, your pet may sense your emotions and have a hard time relaxing too. The more you play bag games and "practice traveling," the more comfortable you BOTH will feel! You might even take a few trial runs by taking your pet and travel bag around the block a few times in the car.
- And finally, make sure YOU are comfortable with your travel bag. We use the large SturdiBag because it measures the maximum size (12x12x18) allowed by the airline we fly, it's light and flexible enough to place under the seat with ease. Be sure to check pet carrier requirements with the airline you fly.
For more travel tips, we like Fido Friendly's "Holiday Road Warrior Survivor Guide."
Thanksgiving turkey, here we come! Happy travels!