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Frequent flier points

Travel tips for keeping your pet calm and relaxed on stressful flights.

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You've triple-checked your baggage allowance, got all your vaccines and filed your entrance visa paperwork. Yep, you're ready for your next big adventure. But what about your four-legged travelling companion?

Though they may not need to pick the perfect cross-country playlist or reading material for an international flight, there are things to consider before schlepping Spot to a new locale.

You probably know the basics, like checking your airline's crate size restrictions. But how do you make sure your precious cargo doesn't stress out in transit? Silvia Jay, a dog behaviourist, knows how to make travelling with pets as worry-free as possible—for you and your animal.

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

"I always like to start really slow, at the animal's comfort level," Jay says. Start prepping for a road trip with short drives and sitting together in the car with treats. Travelling by air? Get your furry friend used to their crate now with small stints of time in it that gradually increase.

THE WISDOM OF CROWDS

Getting your pet used to the crate or car isn't the same as getting them used to crowds, Jay warns. On a separate day from you car-and-treat or crate sessions, take Fido to the park so he'll get used to not being the only pooch on the scene. "You could even take a drive out to the airport and sit in the terminal with them," Jay says. If your pet is particularly homebound, "expose them to areas without many distractions at first," she adds.

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PLAN WELL AHEAD

Jay recommends starting all this repeated, incremental exposure as far in advance as possible. "You want it to not be overwhelming, to not be short notice, so that the animal doesn't become fearful. It's all about planning done well in advance."

DON'T FORGET

The work isn't over when your return flight lands. It'll probably take your pet the same number of days it took to acclimatize to crowds and their crate as it will for them to recover from the journey. That means no dog parks or play dates, but rather lots of rest and slowly building up to Fluffy's old, pre-travel routine. "You have to keep it really low key for awhile. The animal needs to decompress," Jay says.


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