Just like humans, every dog is different. They have unique personalities and needs that good pet owners are aware of and respond to. No matter how independent they may appear, every dog depends on their owner for their basics: food, shelter and attention. And, certainly, some dogs require more love and attention than others. Is your dog one of them that has grown overly dependent on you?
We get so many questions about keeping pets safe during air travel. Getting good equipment is essential. Acclimating your dog to its carrier is essential. Being a proactive pet traveler is essential. Choosing a good route is essential.
But do owners look into their dog’s eyes and truly understand that, when traveling, the need to know that you will find them again is paramount in their mind? To many dogs, that is extremely important and it must be reinforced. The strangers handling the crate, the unfamiliar surroundings, the fact that their owner is not in sight; it can all add up to a large amount of stress for your dog.
It is the bond between you and your dog that builds your dog’s confidence that you will return to them. So, how do you build their confidence? Simply put, you simulate the experience. You crate them, leave them and come back. Crate them, take them out of their environment, leave them and come back for them. The more often you can do this, the more your dog will know that they are not being deserted.
We all expect our dogs to understand what is going on when we take them out of their routine, load them in a crate, take them to a noisy crowded airport and put them on a conveyer belt that leads them down to people and smells they don’t know. But, dogs don’t understand unless they have been in similiar situations before without their master. It is past experience that is the teacher in this case.
If you have a dependent dog, be sure and train them and expose them to experiences out of their comfort zone prior to travel. Take them to a dog park. Take them downtown. Take them to you in-laws house. Doggy day care or a dog sitter nearby will work. And when you come back for them, take extra time for hugs, rubs and a lot of verbal praise. It will make a world of difference in your dog’s state of mind.
More information on preparing your dog for travel.