Let’s be honest, pet ownership isn’t all cuddles and kisses — and the least cherished moments for both of you are often centered around one thing: the pet carrier.
The dreaded dance of getting your pet inside of a carrier occurs at least once a year and can sometimes leave you both in a bad mood (and at least one of you in the corner with your arms crossed).
Here’s the good news: the pet carrier doesn’t have to be the most reviled object in your home and there are ways to make things easier. One very important tip to remember is that getting your pet into the carrier should be a positive experience — so don’t frighten or freak your pet out when it’s time to get inside because you’ll have lost the battle before it has even begun.
Here are some more helpful suggestions from Banfield Pet Hospital’s Kathryn Boyle, DVM.
Your vet is there to help. If you want your pet to have a healthy and long life visits to the vet will take place often, so do what you can to make it enjoyable. “It’s important to help pets enjoy their carrier and get more comfortable with visits to the veterinarian,” says Boyle. “Partner with your veterinarian on techniques and products to help reduce your pet’s fear and stress related to travel.”
Make your pet carrier commonplace. You know that favorite chair Fluffy is always daydreaming on? The goal is to try to make the pet carrier more like that. So, instead of just taking it out on the day of your veterinary appointment, bring it out a few days before and leave frequent treats inside it for your pet to find. “Make sure a trip or vet visit isn’t the only time your pet sees their carrier,” Boyle says, “keeping it out in your home and accessible to your pet can be beneficial for desensitizing.”
Keep the experience positive. Here’s the deal, when your pet steps foot inside that carrier, pretend that they’ve just made you the proudest pet owner on the planet (in a calm, appreciative, happy way!). “Provide positive reinforcement by feeding your pet in their carrier and rewarding them with treats or toys any time they enter on their own to help make it a more comfortable and safe space,” Boyle suggests. That way, they’ll always associate the carrier with positive experiences.
Try pheromones to keep your pet calm. Pheromones can help animals deal with stress, so research products that may help your cat or dog handle their aversion to the pet carrier better. “The use of pheromones sprayed on a towel and placed in or over the carrier can also prove helpful for some pets,” she says.
Temperature and positioning of the carrier are important. Who wants to step inside a cold, dingy carrier? Nobody! So make sure it’s comfortable, warm and cozy for your pet and make sure the carrier isn’t in an awkward position during your journey. “Ensure you have the temperature adjusted to a comfortable level prior to putting your pet in the car, and ensure the carrier remains level during your drive,” Boyle says.
For more tips on easing the pet carrier experience, visit Banfield’s website.