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Traveling Without Your Pets

It's the season for summer adventures and while a hasty scan of the internet can find lots of articles about traveling with pets, some of our travels do require us to leave our pets behind with dog sitters, friends, relatives or in kennels. This can be stressful for our pets and for us as well since it's a disruption to our normal routine. With a few easy tricks, we can set our pets and ourselves up for a successful temporary separation.
Show your pets what it would really be like if they went with you on the trip. One of the first techniques I like to suggest to clients is to tell and, more importantly, send clear mental images to your pets about what it would really be like for them to accompany you. Would they need to be on leash at all times? Would they be in an unfamiliar travel crate? Would they need to ride longer-than-usual hours in the car? Would they still need to be away from you while you're out on excursions at the destination? Many times, being honest with our pets about how the trip would really look and feel for them helps them to realize that chilling out and taking it easy on the couch for a few days is a more enticing option.
Give them a job to do while you're away. Our pets love to be meaningful contributors to the daily lives we share with them. The next time you travel, ask your pet to perform a very special job that they only do while you're away from the house. This could be anything that suits your pet's personality. You can ask them to keep an eye out for bugs, pay special mind to the birds outside the window, give extra snuggles to the pet sitter or even just ask them to hold down the couch by having some extra nap time. This works best if it's something you charge with extra excitement and that is special and unique to the times when they are away from you.
Make an appointment to check in with them. Many of us have predictable routines during our time at home. Our pets become accustomed to these routines and find comfort in expecting the same result at the same time each day. Their familiar schedules may be altered when we're away from home. Before you leave on your trip, communicate to your pet that you will agree to mindfully connect to them at a certain time. This can be a daily check-in or just once or twice during the span of time you're away. Although animals don't share the same concept of time that we do, they do understand our energy and intent, so clearly picturing the specific time of day when you will check in will be enough to comfort them. Will it be early in the morning when they're still lazing around in bed? Will it be at dinner time when they would typically get their favorite treat? In your mind and with your heart full of love, send the mental image of what that time of day would look like from your pet's perspective and then honor your commitment to meet up with them by thinking of them and sending them your love and mindful attention at that time during your travels.
With these three simple tricks, we can better navigate the emotional separation that our pets sometimes feel when we travel without them. Knowing that our pets are happy, safe, mellow and confident while we're away allows us to relax and enjoy our vacation. Additionally, our pets benefit from our relaxed state of mind as it allows them to remain calm and at ease being without us. It's a win-win! Safe travels, my friends!