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How To Make Your Dog More Comfortable In Their Pet Travel Carrier

Published on: July 7, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

 fluffy dog laying on bedThere are different kinds of carriers for pets, designed for different purposes. The carrier you use to bring a puppy to the vet or keep your dog corralled in the car is probably very different from the type of kennel you would use if they were traveling by airplane. The one thing every pet travel carrier has in common is that they are designed for containment, not comfort.

As a devoted pet parent, however, you always want your furry companion to be as comfortable as possible. Why else would you make sure they have fluffy beds to sleep on? Or allow them to sleep on your own bed or sofa? Fortunately, there are things you can do to make your dog’s pet travel carrier more comfortable. That goes for cats, too, so let’s talk about both.

Familiarity breeds comfort.

Dogs love to hang out with their owners. If that means travel, that’s cool with them. But not every dog is excited about spending time in an enclosed crate. Cats, on the other hand, are generally not in favor of change, and that definitely includes being forced to sit in a carrier they didn’t select themselves. Whether you have a dog or cat, you can help them see their pet travel carrier as their own personal comfort zone. It just takes time.  

Purchase the kennel well in advance of your expected travel date. The more time you give your pet to get used to it, the more comfortable they will be. Leave the kennel out where they can see it and smell it, and leave the door open. If your pup shies away from confined space, start them out with only the bottom half of the kennel, so it looks more like a bed and doesn’t feel enclosed. Encourage your pet to explore the carrier, inside and out, by putting treats or toys inside.

Add something of yours.

Pets are most at ease when you’re with them. Your haughty feline may pretend otherwise, but you know they secretly look forward to lap time and petting. So while helping them think of the pet travel carrier as their own personal space, you can make it even more comfortable and reassuring by outfitting it with something of your own. Soft bedding is cushier for travel. You could line the kennel with a crate pad (less than 3 inches thick), a thin blanket, t-shirt or towel and pee-pee pads. It's best to use something thin that smells like home, which can help ease their anxiety during their big adventure. Keep in mind that the airlines won't allow any super thick beds or comforters, so don't be tempted to send your entire duvet with your dog.

If your pet has a snub nose, make sure the bedding isn’t so thick they could bury their face, because that will make it more difficult for them to breathe.

Practice traveling.

Getting your pet used to their carrier is the first step. Getting them used to being moved around in it is the second step toward increasing their comfort level. So practice with them. This technique can be especially helpful for cats who dislike the entire concept of going somewhere in their carrier. Cats usually prefer to stay in their own environment, but your kitty could have developed a negative attitude about travel because they've never gone anywhere except the vet’s office. Not the most alluring destination.

Start out by taking very short trips in the car – maybe just around the block. Short and sweet, nothing negative, back home and released from the carrier in no time. Gradually extend your trips, so by the time the “real” trip comes along your pup or kitty thinks of it as just another activity. 

Every pet travel carrier is designed to keep your dog (or cat) safe and secure. But if you take steps to make the kennel recognizable and homey, and you teach them to accept movement in it, the carrier will be more comfortable for your pet, physically and psychologically. That will reduce potential anxiety and improve your pet’s overall travel experience.

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.