How to Acclimate Your Pet to Their Travel Kennel

Here are some tips to acclimating your pet to their new travel kennel, so that they are comfortable on the day of departure.

brown poodle in a bed with blanketIf your pet has never been crate trained or been inside a travel kennel (other than to the vet), you'll want to get them used to it well before their big adventure to your new home. 

Here are some suggestions on how you can get them acclimated to their travel kennel so that it is seen as a safe and comfortable space on departure day. 

Step 1:

Don't put the travel kennel together right away - start by just placing the bottom half out in a common area. Try putting their toys, bed, treats, or other comfort items inside it to see if they voluntarily go in and out of it, or even sleep in it. 

Step 2:

Once they've gotten used to the bottom half of the kennel, then put the top half on it (but not the door). Do the same things you did in step 1 - and don't be afraid to use food or toy bribes.

Step 3:

Once your pet has gotten used to the crate with the top on it, then you can attach the door. At first, leave the door open so they can go in and out freely. Then slowly try closing the door for short periods of time, and rewarding them with a treat when they come back out. Slowly increase the time spent in the crate with the door closed and continue offering rewards. 

Step 4:

Once your pet seems to be comfortable inside the crate with the door closed, you can practice what it might be like on the day of departure. Take them for car rides inside the crate to get them used to the movement and new sights and sounds. 

Another fun tip: bring them to the car wash and see how they respond. All of these new sights, sounds, and smells can help get them used to new surroundings that they will experience at the airport and on the plane. 

Other tips:

  • Place a crate pad, pee-pee pad, and thin blanket, t-shirt, or towel that smells like home inside the kennel. These items can travel with your pet on the day of departure as long as they are less than 3 inches thick. 
  • Keep in mind that toys, bones, treats, or other personal belongings will NOT be able to travel with your pet. This is why it's important to get them acclimated to the kennel as well in advance as possible. 

NEVER sedate your pet for air travel. Not only is this unsafe for animals, but Starwood and the airline will not accept pets for travel who appear to have been sedated.