The number of people who travel with their dogs is growing, and so too are the options for pets on the road. From "ruffing it" at campgrounds to enjoying fabulous four-star hotels, the time has never been better to pack up your pet and go.
Still, traveling with a dog is no picnic sometimes. Finding lodgings can be difficult, luxurious inside dining is largely sacrificed in favor of eating takeout in the car or a park, and spending hours tripping through quaint shops becomes a thing of the past when a dog is waiting. Traveling with dogs offers some challenges, but nearly all are surmountable with common sense and creativity.
The travel industry wants to help, that's for sure. Countless books cover traveling with dogs, and some travel agents have carved out a niche booking canine-centered vacations. People in the travel industry have learned that many people with dogs are exceptionally grateful for pleasant accommodations, and so return to the places that treat them well year after year. As a result, some entrepreneurs have gone to great lengths to attract dog lovers. You can even find canine camps, where people do nothing but share a slice of "dog heaven" with their pet for a week or more at a time.
Is your pup ready to hit the road? As with all other training, ending up with a good car-rider starts with molding correct behavior when your dog is a puppy. No matter how cute or how small, do not allow your pup to ride in your lap, and don't make a fuss over him while you're driving.
Traveling with your dog in a crate is often easier and definitely safer. Depending on the size of your dog and the size and shape of your car, a crate may not be feasible. It should always be considered, though, especially for those dogs who are so active that they distract the driver. Collapsible crates are available for easy storage in the trunk when not in use.
Another safety tool is a doggy seat belt. Some models attach to the vehicle's seat belt and then to a harness you provide, while others come complete with harness. Also good for keeping a pet in place -- if you have a station wagon, van or SUV -- are widely available metal barriers that fit between the passenger and cargo areas. These barriers aren't considered as safe in the event of a crash as a crate or a safety belt, but they do solve the problem of a dog whose behavior can distract the driver.
If your dog's only exposure to travel is an occasional trip to the veterinarian's, don't be surprised if he hates car rides. Try to build up his enthusiasm by increasing his time in the car and praising him for his good behavior. The first short trips should be to pleasant locations, such as parks.
Because most of the car-sickness problems come from fear, not motion sickness, building up your pet's tolerance for riding in a car is a better long-term cure than anything you could give him. Ask your veterinarian's advice for any medication to help in the short term.
On the road, remember to stop at regular intervals, about as often as you need to for yourself, for your dog to relieve himself and get a drink of fresh water. Always keep your dog on a leash for his own safety. And don't forget that your dog's ID tags are never as important as when you're on the road.
With a few short practice trips and some training, you'll be on the road in no time.
'Invaders' cause cat
to lash out at owner
Q: Whenever my cat looks through the window and sees another cat outside in the yard, she freaks. The last time it happened, I was trying to swat her head to get her away from me. She showed her teeth and hissed like she was going to attack me.
Later, she was back to normal. It's so weird because she is so docile and sweet most of the time. I hate to get rid of her for attacking me, but I am afraid of being bitten when she "goes off" like this. -- D.T.
A: You have a classic case of what behaviorists call "redirected aggression," and it's not in the least uncommon.
Cats are territorial animals, and the sight of another cat (even through a window) can trigger an aggressive response. The cat who feels "invaded" will work into a state of trancelike anger. The animal becomes frustrated that she cannot get to the invader, and typically will lash out at any person or other pet unlucky enough to be in proximity.
The usual advice in such cases is to work to remove the triggers for such behaviors. If possible, figure out a way to keep other cats out of your yard, and block your cat's view to the area where they show up. When your cat's in an aggressive state, do not pick her up or touch her, but try to "shoo" her into a darkened room to chill out. Throwing a blanket over her will also end the confrontation in a pinch.
Most cases of redirected aggression aren't as dramatic as your cat's. They can usually be dealt with just by giving the cat a wide berth until it's apparent (from the cat's relaxed body language) that the aggressive state is over.
Given the high level of arousal your cat displayed and your fear of more incidents including a bite, I'd recommend asking your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist who can set up a program of medication and modification that will help defuse the feline time bomb in your home. -- Gina Spadafori
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ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Dr. Becker can also be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker.
Calico cats are
-- Calico and tortoiseshell (or tortie) refer to a pattern of markings, not to a breed. The link between them is red fur, which can run from a very pale tan to a bright, rich rust. The two marking patterns are genetically similar, but differ in the way they are expressed on the cat. On calico cats, the red, black and white colors are distinct patches; on tortoiseshells, the colors are swirled together. Almost all such cats are female, but males do turn up rarely. Male calicoes are unusual for more than their coloring: Although they appear male, they're carrying not only a Y chromosome, but two X ones (one extra), which is what makes the calico patterning possible.
-- Human health trends almost always end up echoing in the pet-care industry as well. General Nutrition Center and PetSmart are reported to be in talks to have GNC create a product line -- to be sold exclusively at PetSmart -- of vitamins and supplements aimed at each stage of a pet's life. The companies are counting on people being as interested in fitness, weight loss and healthy living for their pets as they are for themselves.
-- A healthy cat's heart normally beats between 140 and 220 times per minute, with a relaxed cat on the lower end of the scale. It's not unusual for the heartbeat to be high at the veterinarian's, since cats don't like being away from home, and they certainly don't like being poked and prodded by strangers. Put your hand over your cat's left side, behind the front leg. You'll feel the heart pulsing beneath your fingers. Count the beats for 15 seconds; multiply by four to get the BPM, or beats per minute.-- Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker Shannon