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As a veterinarian with 20-plus years of experience roaming the States with pets in tow, you’d think I’d have the traveling thing down. Yet every single time I take my pets anywhere outside my hometown in South Florida, I’m forced to confront some new (and often annoying) aspect of pet travel I’d somehow missed during the 50-plus trips that preceded it.
My last expedition serves as a perfect example:
I flew from Miami to Arizona with my French Bulldog, Vincent, for a speaking engagement.
After spending the night at a fancy pet-friendly resort, we flew to Washington, D.C., where Vincent and I met up with my significant other and our Belgian Malinois pup, Violet. They’d just driven up from Miami to help me enjoy three days of BlogPaws, a social media conference for the pet set. There we spent our nights in a ninth-floor hotel room (near the elevator, thank God) and our days in a conference booth promoting my Fat Dog Diet iPhone app.
After the conference, we shared a leisurely drive back to Miami with Vincent and Violet sleeping peacefully (mostly, anyway) in the back of my SUV.
As a mixed media marathon experience in pet travel, this particular trip was extra-illuminating on the things-I-never-knew-about-pet-travel front. After all, it’s only fair for you to learn about the things no one ever talks about in all those supremely unhelpful pet travel websites.
So here it is, fodder for your upcoming summer travels:
1. The first time is always the worst. So always plan a short trip first. I know plenty of people who refuse to travel with their pets after having suffered a stressful time their first time out. But that’s only to be expected. As long as it wasn’t a complete fiasco and your dog has a generally sound temperament, it’s probably a good idea to try again. Just be sure to make it a shorter trip the next time out, and stop somewhere fun, like the dog park.
2. Traveling with a puppy is a double-edged sword. As you might expect, puppies can make for some tough traveling experiences. Consider: separation anxiety, housebreaking issues and all that chewing! Despite the drawbacks, traveling with a pup offers plenty to recommend it. After all, how best to socialize a pet to the rigors of travel than to expose her to them early?
(Just be sure to bring along a powerful array of floor cleaners!)
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