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How to crate train your pet for travel

Crate training is crucial for a pet that is travelling to a different country. International pet relocation, whether it is a cat or a dog, requires the pet to be transported in an IATA compliant crate. The comfort of your pet on the international flight depends largely on how comfortable he or she is in the crate. It is advisable to purchase or receive the crate early and acclimatise your pet to the crate. Here are a few tips on how to crate train your pet for international travel.

Get the right crate

Dog and cat crates come in many sizes and material, and it is vital to get the right crate for your pet. It is essential that the crate is IATA compliant; your pet will not be allowed to board the plane if the crate does not meet IATA expectations.

The size of the crate is as important as the material. Generally, the crate must be big enough for your pet to stand up, sit down and turn around. Your pet should be able to lay down comfortably with his or her paws extended. Make sure you measure your pet before buying the crate. For international travels, a new crate is recommended over a pre-owned crate for hygiene purposes. Pre-owned crates may have been used domestically by unvaccinated pets and could contain bacteria and viruses such as kennel cough and canine influenza.

Make the crate comfortable for your pet

Before you begin crate training, make the crate comfortable for your pet. Put your pet’s favourite blanket and his or her treat bowl inside the crate. You can also use your old t-shirt to comfort your pet in the crate. Place your pet’s favourite toy inside the crate to lure him or her in. When you begin crate training, take the door off, so your pet can get out whenever he or she wishes. Place the crate in a quiet place, so your pet associates the crate with a calm and safe place.

Gentle introduction to the crate

Cats and dogs are naturally curious, and they will explore the inside of the crate on their own. Once they enter the crate, praise them and give them treats. Associating the crate with happy and positive memories is essential. If your pet is reluctant to get into the crate, do not force him or her. Instead, sit by the crate and encourage them in with treats and toys.

Continue praising your pet every time he or she gets into the crate on their own and don’t forget to reward them. Your pet will soon get comfortable with entering and staying in the crate on command. Remember to always make it fun for your pet when they are in the crate; give them attention, treats and lavish praise, so they are motivated to return to the crate.

If your pet is stressed and unwilling to enter the crate, try using just the bottom half of the crate to begin with, and then progress with the top half on and then the door as and when your pet gets comfortable.

Increase crate time gradually

The next step is to increase the amount of time your pet spends in the crate. It is essential to proceed with caution here because if you move forward before your pet is ready, you might have to go back a few steps to get them comfortable again.

After your pet is comfortable in the crate and enters and exits without any stress, close the door for a few seconds in the beginning before gradually increasing the time. Stay close to the crate when you close the door and give them treats for being calm. If your dog is distressed or starts whining, you have moved too soon. Do not reward them when they are whining, start the process over till they are comfortable.

When you find that your pet is comfortable in the crate, you could try feeding their meal in the crate. Let them out only after they have finished their meal. Remember to always be within their sight while you are crate training; the chances of your pet getting distressed is higher when you are not in sight.

The best way to increase crate time is to put your pets in the crate after a walk or exercise. Lead them into the crate in a natural manner and close the door for a short period. Gradually increase the number of times in the crate as well as the amount of time.

Crate your pet during the night

Progress to crating your pet during the night only after you notice that your pet is comfortable in the crate even when you leave the room. Keep the crate near your bed, so he or she knows that you are around. Slowly move the crate further and further away from your room to another room. If you can get your pet to spend at least five consecutive nights in the crate without distress, your pet will be comfortable during the flight. Ideally, your pet must be able to stay the duration of his or flight in the crate without distress.

Do a trial run

The best way to simulate flight conditions is by taking your pet on a drive. A drive inside the crate will acclimatise your pet to a moving crate. Take them around the town when you run your errands. Be sure to encourage your pet and reassure them if they are feeling distressed. It helps to take treats along during the drive.

Crate training don’ts

First and foremost, do not use the crate as punishment. Your pet must regard the crate as a happy and safe place; if you punish your pet in the crate, it will make him or her more anxious and stressed.

Do not let your pet dog out of the crate if he or she is barking or whining. Wait till he or she is completely calm before letting them out. If you let out a whining or barking dog, your dog will assume that he or she just has to make enough noise to be let out.

Planning an international pet relocation?

If you are planning to move your pet to another country, there are several factors to be considered and crate training is just one of them. Get expert advice by contacting a pet relocation service to assist with your move. If you are planning to travel with your pet, get in touch with Petraveller for travel plans, crate training tips and more.

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