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Create good habits for pets that undergo holiday travels

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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Hotels and campgrounds are filling up as we head full force into a beautiful holiday season. Once again, many of us have been caught off guard, just barely having said goodbye to summer. But the chilled air and people bustling about signal time to celebrate.

As the holidays near, our pantry is stocked with an array of healthy pet treats as well as lots of hot tea for keeping humans warm and cozy on doggie play dates. Leashes and harnesses are hung by the door for spur of the moment walks and the car blankets are ready to accommodate lots of muddy paws.

For many people, holidays mean travel to see friends and relatives and it can be a challenge this time of year with or without pets. Don't send your pet in the belly of the plane unless you're making a permanent move out of the country and have no other option. Most airlines allow small crated pets to travel with their owners under the seat. Few airlines can accommodate larger pets so either travel by car or leave your big dogs home with a trusted pet sitter or in a secure, reputable boarding facility.

If your pets are used to traveling by road, you probably have a system that works. Show dogs and cats, sport dogs and working companion animals are usually trained to crates and travel early in life. It's just part of their routine and issues like motion sickness, anxiety and safety have been addressed and solved.

If traveling with your pet is somewhat new to you, start preparing as far in advance as practical. Small dogs and all cats are best crated on road trips, with their crates strapped in. Seat belt harnesses offer only minimal protection in the event of a collision.

For medium and large dogs, there is a three-point safety harness that has been crash tested at 75 pounds, at 30 mph.

Crate training is a huge plus that gives your pets the advantage of a home away from home. Crates and harnesses keep your pets from the danger of bolting whenever the car door is opened. It doesn't take long to crate train. Most pets like the comfort and security of a well-chosen crate and will instinctively seek out their den if it is used as a home, not a prison. I can't stress how important it is not to use the crate for punishment or to confine them for uncomfortable periods of time.

Sturdy, soft-sided crates are wonderful for travel. They're lightweight, collapsible and easy to set up anywhere. They are not escape-proof though, so it's important to keep your pet supervised. If he or she panics, there's not much more than a bit of netting and canvas between him and escape so don't use it to confine your pet in an unsecured area.

Cats travel less easily than dogs. Unless you're going for a long time, travel often, are moving or have a special relationship with your cat, consider a good pet sitter rather than a road trip. Cats really like familiar environments. Bearing in mind a few basic differences, preparing your pet for travel is much the same for dogs and cats.

They should always be crated in a car and kept inside their crate until they are safely inside a secured area. It's also helpful to train them to a leash and harness but remember that cats have flexible and agile bodies. They can squirm out of collars and harnesses with astounding ease. Unless they are seasoned travelers, practice, practice, practice before you venture out on a long road trip with your companion animal.

Have ample supply of your pets' familiar food and supplements. Take plenty of water and potty breaks. Always be careful opening car or hotel doors when your pets are in unfamiliar places and make sure they have identification and current documentation of shots and health records.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona. She is the founder of Golden Bone Rescue and Rehab and has over 30 years experience helping distressed animals and helping pet owners, shelters and pounds overcome problem behavior in animals.

Copyright 2014 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: December 3, 2014

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