Some lucky pet owners quickly acclimate their pets to their travel crates. However, not all furry friends immediately love their travel crates. If your pet needs some extra help, do not worry! Here are a few tricks for getting pets more comfortable in their crate as you prepare for your upcoming move:
Start with just the bottom half of the crate: If your pet is especially hesitant about their travel crate, remove the top half and use the bottom as a safe space. Place your pet's bed in the bottom of the crate and encourage them to spend time there. Gradually add the top half of the crate, but keep the door off for now. This can help your pet acclimate to the crate and feel more comfortable in their new space. Once they're used to the crate, you can add the door and continue training them to spend time inside.
- Why it works: Starting with just the bottom half of the crate can help your pet feel more comfortable and in control. By placing their bed or food in the bottom, they will associate the crate with positive experiences. Adding the top half gradually can help prevent your pet from feeling overwhelmed or trapped in a small space.
Feed them in their crate. Start with the door open, and as you progress, close it all the way. As soon as they are done eating, let them back out!
- Why it works: A positive action, while they are in the crate with the door closed, means positive conditioning. Also, keeping the time span short reduces anxiety and shows your pet that being inside their crate is no big deal!
Putting an item with your scent in the crate can help calm your pet's nerves during travel.
- Why it works: Your pet will likely feel more comfortable and secure when surrounded by familiar scents. Placing an item with your scent in the crate, such as a sock, old shirt, or blanket, can help your pet feel more at ease during travel. The familiar scent can help reduce anxiety and stress and make the crate feel more like a safe and familiar space. This can be especially helpful for pets who are prone to separation anxiety or who are traveling to a new environment
Cover crates with something light and breathable, with the door, closed for short increments so they cannot see what is happening around them.
- Why it works: Covering a crate will help them feel more secure! Think of it like their personal den/zen space. A covered crate will also emulate the low lighting of traveling on the plane.
Ease your pet into the crate for more extended periods incrementally when you are home before you start leaving them in a crate when you are gone.
- Why it works: This allows you to have some separation from your dog, but will enable them to see & hear you while you are home. Doing this in small spurts reinforces that being inside their crate is not a big deal. Once they do well inside their box, leave the house for quick errands!
If possible, have them sleep in the crate at night. It doesn't have to be every night, but it's a great start, as they are naturally more relaxed at night.
Start with the crate in your room and gradually move it closer to the door until they are in a different room.
- Why it works: Levering their circadian rhythm will condition them to sleep in their crate.
Use Pheromone Sprays: Pheromone sprays, like Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs, can help calm anxious pets during travel. These sprays mimic natural calming scents and can help reduce stress.
- Why it works: Pheromone sprays work by mimicking the natural scents that animals produce to communicate with each other. Pheromone spray can help your pet feel calmer and more secure during travel.
Bonus: This also helps with dogs that struggle with separation anxiety!
Start with these tricks, and you'll be on your way to having a calmer pet when it's time to move!