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Pet Travel: Take Your Furry Sidekick Along, or Leave Him Behind?

Pet Travel: Take Your Furry Sidekick  Along, or Leave Him Behind?

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!

TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada.  When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities.  TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear. For more information, please visit http://www.tripswithpets.com

Tags: Pet Safety, Pet travel, Pet Vacation

Socializing your new puppy: what you need to know

Now that you have gotten (somewhat) used to the newest addition to the family, it’s time to start thinking about socialization? The key to having a happy and nonfearful dog, is to start training during puppyhood. Here are some tips on how to get started.

At home…

Once your puppy has been home for a few days and is settled in, start introducing him to loud noises around the house. Get the vacuum cleaner out and let him sniff it. Turn it on and see how he reacts. This should go without saying but, don’t chase him with it and don’t force him to be near it. He may be afraid of it at first but after a few more times, it won’t make him so anxious. Also let him hear the garbage disposal, the hair dryer, the blender, etc. Whatever makes loud noises in your house (including the kids, although he’s likely heard them a lot by now).

When you are relaxing on the sofa, play with his feet and stick your fingers in his mouth periodically. Trim his nails so he gets used to this. There may not really be a lot to trim, but the act of having you hold his feet will help make it less stressful later. The same for getting him used to you opening his mouth in case you ever have to give him medicine. Now is a good time to get him used to you brushing his teeth as well.

 

Out in the world…

This part of socialization is definitely fun but you really have to wait until your pup is done will all of the puppy vaccines before venturing out into the world with your new BFF.  Ask your family vet and your dog-loving friends about “puppy kindergarten” classes in your area. These are also offered at some of our Best Friends facilities so be sure to ask J [JG1] In these classes, your pup will learn to interact with other dogs, new people, new environments, and lots of new smells. Puppy heaven! Having your puppy explore these things in a specific space and structured environment allows you to see how he/she does and help ensure that they don’t grow up being fearful or aggressive. Kindergarten classes will also start to lay the foundation for some behavior training as well.
Puppyhood is also the best time to start training your puppy to go for walks with a leash. Frequent walks are key since this is a skill that can take some time to master. If your pup sees things that scare him, such as a tree or a trash can, he may bark and back away. Don’t try to soothe him if he does this or he will think it is a good behavior. Instead, walk him past it gently, don’t pull or force him towards it though.

Overall, enjoy the process. Socialization is one of the most fun parts of having a puppy – its and excuse to show him off and play so, take advantage of it! And always remember we are here if you need us!!

Tags: Dog training, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppy, Tips

So you have a new puppy – now what?

Golden Retriever Puppy

Is there anything better than a warm, wiggly, cuddly puppy? A new bundle of joy always brings smiles but also, responsibility. Making sure your new fur baby is healthy and well cared for now, will save you time and money down the road. So, what now?

First, schedule a visit with your family vet within the first week of getting your new pup. Be sure to bring in any paperwork you have about vaccinations, wellness checks, or medications they have been given. The purpose of this general check-up exam is to make sure your puppy doesn’t have any obvious health problems or birth defects. For example, your veterinarian will check the mouth for a cleft palate, listen to the heart in case of a heart murmur, check for an umbilical hernia, etc. This exam is also a good time for you to discuss anything you have noticed at home that you are concerned about. Is your pup not eating well? Have you noticed any vomiting or diarrhea? Have you noticed a runny nose or watery eyes?

It is important to remember that even if your new fur baby is not showing any signs of a health problem at the time of their visit to the vet, they may still be incubating an illness. Diseases such as parvovirus or distemper can take 7 to 10 days to start causing symptoms, so be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of a problem.

During your visit, your veterinarian will also recommend getting a poop sample to check your new puppy for intestinal parasites and discuss a deworming schedule. Pups are often born with intestinal parasites and, even if they have already been dewormed, will often need more than a single dose of deworming medication.

Vaccinations (shots) are critical to keeping your puppy healthy and can help them avoid common puppy illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper. During your initial visit, your veterinarian will go over a vaccine schedule for your new pup. The first set of shots should happen at around 6 to 8 weeks of age with boosters given every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. Remember, until your pup is fully vaccinated, be sure to keep him/her isolated from other dogs. This means no boarding, no dog parks, pet stores, etc.

This initial visit is also a good time for you to talk to your veterinarian about microchipping. This means inserting a chip about the size of a grain of rice under the puppy’s skin that contains your contact information. If your dog is ever lost or separated from you in an emergency, a veterinary clinic or shelter will be able to scan your pet and contact you. Inserting the chip is easy (it’s just like getting a vaccine) and the cost is typically low.  Even if your pet is chipped however, they should still wear a collar with their name and your contact information.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions at this (or any) vet visit! This is the time for you to ask about anything you are concerned about. Your Best Friends veterinarian and the entire veterinary team are there to help you be the best pet parent you can be and to make sure that life with your new pup gets off to a safe and healthy start!

Tags: Best Friends Spotlight, Dogs, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppies, Puppy, Tips
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