Is there anything worse than having to leave your cat or dog behind when you travel? Some of us experience separation-anxiety. And when you come home, you may have to endure either a cold shoulder or even more subversive, passive-aggressive behavior as your pet lets you know that they did not appreciate being separated from you or their home.
With services such as Pets Can Stay™, more and more people are catching on to the benefits of traveling with their pets and it is becoming easier to do. The next question is how to make travel as safe and happy as possible for all involved. Program members & leaders with St. John Ambulance’s Therapy Dog Program have some tips that may help you along your way.St. John Ambulance’s Therapy Dog Program provides regular weekly
volunteer visits to people in long-term care facilities who can no longer enjoy the company of a pet. To make the program safe and effective, all canine members must pass a standardized evaluation and monitored visitation to ensure that they have the appropriate temperament, socialization and behavioural control for visitation. The program also mandates that all canine members receive regular veterinarian certifications of good health and full immunization, and owners must keep their dogs well groomed and clean for all visits.
“Begin with some of the considerations we use in our program”, says Dave Hamblin, Manager of Community Services, Federal District.
When preparing for travel, ensure that their shots are up-to-date and that they are healthy and well-groomed. Health problems can really disrupt a vacation, and good grooming will make them more welcome wherever they travel.
If your pet is…well…a little less than an angel, it doesn’t mean that you can’t travel together. It just means that you have to take their temperament and behaviour into consideration when you plan – no matter how difficult it is for us to admit to their shortcomings. For example, if your dog is nervous around children, you may not wish to stay at a hotel or beach-line inn that caters to families with children. It will be stressful for both your dog and you.
We all know that exercise helps to relax our dogs, so be sure to make strategic use of it during travel. “Our volunteers leave plenty of time to give their dog if they feel they need a walk to relax their dog. Then the dog is more attentive and calm when they visit”, says Hamblin.
Spend some time with your pet as they get accustomed to a new setting – your company and reassurance will help a lot. “Bring along their favourite toys or blanket and try to maintain some of their regular rituals, like their play or the timing of their walks,” recommends Hamblin. These strategies will help them to adjust and be content, and your travels together will be enjoyable.
With services like Pets Can Stay and St. John Ambulance’s Therapy Dog Program, our pet friends are able to travel and visit more than ever before. It’s our responsibility to do a little extra planning to make our travels safe and happy.