Preparing your pooch for take off. Part one: Crate training

I think I speak for the majority of you dog lovers out there when I say my dog is basically my baby, just with a little more hair and a wagging tail. My dog Sacha is definately part of the family and just like with any other member of my family, I will always do what I can to protect them from any unnecessary stress. This is why when I booked Sacha’s flight to London there were a few steps we took to help make a stressful situation as stress free as possible.

The most important step was to get Sacha as comfortable as possible being in her crate for long periods of time. This is called crate training. The crate used needs to be flight approved and meet the airline requirements. It also needs to be large enough for your pet to stand, turnaround and lay down. Your international pet transport company will be able to provide you with one as part of your package, or you may be able to get a cheaper secondhand crate on sites like eBay or gumtree.

We started our crate training by leaving the crate in the lounge room with the door open and just allowed Sach to sniff and get used to the presence of the crate. Once she seemed comfimageortable with the crate being in her space we started to feed her breakfast and dinner inside the crate with the door open. After a few days of feeding her inside the crate we then started putting her bed in the crate at night and encouraged her to sleep in the crate with the door open. It really helps if you continuously reward your pet with treats whenever they enter the crate on their own. The aim is to have the crate be like their happy place, a place where they can go relax and feel safe.

Once Sacha was comfortable with eating, sleeping and entering the crate on her own, we then started to close the door for short periods of time. We would start by closing the door for 30 seconds at a time, then giving her lots or treats and praise upon opening the door. This process was then repeated over and over while extending the period of time the door was closed. After a while she became very comfortable being closed in the crate for any length of time. When your puppy is 100% comfortable with being in their crate it is a good idea to get them used to the crate being moved about while they are inside. This would help prepare them for boarding and disembarking their flights. Sacha seemed perfectly fine with this part of the training. We would lift the crate and put it back down gently over and over while giving her treats in the crate. When we thought she was comfortable we started placing the crate, with her inside, into the car and would take a drive around the block. After a bit of practise this shouldn’t worry your pet at all. We found that Sacha would even just fall asleep!

The crate training process can take a bit of time depending on your pets personality. Because we crate trained Sacha while she was toilet training as a puppy she seemed to pick it up and was completely comfortable within a couple of months. If your pet has never been crate trained before it is a good idea to start as early as possible just to ensure they are ready for their flight.

Just remember be patient and not to rush or push your dog into doing something they don’t want to. You want this to be a fun and happy experience so they feel safe and comfortable in their crate. This will also give you piece of mind knowing that they will be safe and happy while being in the air.

Best of luck! And happy crate training x

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