5 Ways to Soothe Your Dog’s Homesickness While Traveling

In the age of pet-friendly hotels and cafes, traveling with one’s furry best friend is easier than it’s ever been. As airline policies evolve and road trip destinations spotlight dog-friendly amenities, more and more doting pet parents have hopped aboard the trend of including their dogs in their travel escapades.

However, this evolution in travel culture brings with it unique challenges for pet owners. Many are finding that their pets, especially their dogs, exhibit behaviors indicative of stress or discomfort in new environments. Some examples might include disrupted sleep patterns, changes in appetite, pacing, drooling, panting, and vocalizing more than usual. These reactions—often likened to homesickness in humans—stem more from a sense of unfamiliarity and change than an actual yearning for home. 

If you love the idea of traveling with your pup but feel concerned about their peace of mind, don’t fret. There are many concrete steps you can take to alleviate the stress and anxiety your dog experiences while traveling, such as the following:

1) Bring Familiar Items

Dogs are creatures of habit that naturally feel comforted and reassured in the presence of things they know. The scent of their bed, the texture of their favorite toy, or the familiarity of their feeding bowl can help them regain a sense of normalcy when they’re stressed out. In unfamiliar settings, these simple items can serve as anchors, reminding them of the safety and comfort of home.

When you travel, try packing small, portable items like custom plush toys or pet blankets that your dog regularly uses. These will carry the scent of home, providing your dog with a sensory link to more familiar surroundings. Because dogs naturally depend on their senses of smell to navigate and understand the world, the presence of well-known scents may help them feel more at ease in a new place.

2) Take Short Trips First

Just as you would be overwhelmed to be suddenly thrown into a foreign country without any prior preparation, your dog will likewise find it difficult to cope if a long, drawn-out trip is their first experience of travel. If they’ve never traveled before, ease them into the experience with shorter excursions. These could be as simple as a drive to a nearby park or an overnight stay at a local pet-friendly bed and breakfast.

The primary objective of these mini trips is twofold. First, they’ll help you familiarize your dog with the concept of being away from their primary residence. Secondly, they’ll allow you to gauge and understand your pet’s reaction to a change of setting, which will give you some idea of what they need to stay calm on longer trips.

3) Stick to a Routine

In addition to familiar environments, consistent routines are immensely comforting to dogs. This is another major reason why travel, which frequently involves shifting schedules and inconsistent patterns of activity, can be jarring for them. On the flip side, mimicking your dog’s regular routine as closely as possible while on the road can help alleviate their anxiety.

Of course, while it’s impossible to keep your dog’s daily schedule exactly as is, do your best to retain the fundamentals. If your dog is used to a morning walk, for example, do your best to ensure that they still get that stroll at your destination. Over time, they’ll come to realize that despite the changing backdrops, they can be certain that their primary routine—and, by extension, the care they receive—will remain the same.

4) Build Them a Safe Space

Every dog, no matter how adventurous, benefits from having a designated sanctuary. This space, which could range from a portable crate to a corner of the hotel room, serves as a retreat where they can find solitude and safety from potentially overwhelming stimuli.

When setting up this space, incorporate the familiar items you’ve brought from home such as dog toys and food bowls. The idea is to create a miniature version of their home environment within this new setting. Not only does this space offer relief when your dog feels stressed or overstimulated, but it also allows dogs to have a consistent spot to return to, no matter how often the larger surroundings might change during a trip.

5) Maintain a Calm Demeanor Around Them

Dogs are astoundingly adept at picking up on the emotional states of their human companions. If you’re anxious or stressed during your trip, there’s a good chance your dog will sense it and mirror those feelings. While it’s natural to feel a touch of anxiety while traveling, especially when faced with unforeseen challenges, do your best to remain calm and exude a sense of control. Staying calm in the presence of your dog will in turn make it easier for them to feel at ease.

Traveling with dogs offers owners an opportunity to forge deeper bonds and create wonderful shared memories with the human and canine members of their families. While new environments might initially pose challenges to your dog that are not unlike human homesickness, with understanding and preparation, you’ll be able to transform these initial hurdles into enriching experiences and fun adventures for everyone.

Hi! I'm Alexandra

I am an entrepreneur, author, and mom of 3 from Memphis, Tennessee. I fill my days pursuing the dream of being my own boss as a full time influencer and sensory marketing specialist while spending my evenings playing superheros, helping with homework, making dinner, and tucking in my littles.

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