Preparing a dog for crate travel is something best done well in advance of your trip.
Mission: Preparing Dog for Crate Travel
My husband and I will be moving from Hawaii to Florida in approximately six weeks. We are planning on flying to California and then driving across the country. We have a small dog who will fit into a Sherpa under-seat bag for the airline flight.
I'm wondering what tips/instructions you may have for getting him used to his carrier as he has never used a crate or been confined before for any period of time.
You can begin to prepare your dog for the journey now by having him spend small amounts of time in the carrier. Begin by placing your dog in it for about 10 minutes at a time, several times each day. You can give your pet a biscuit to make the experience more pleasant.
Once this is going smoothly, take your dog for a drive around the block inside of the carrier. You can do this several times, increasing the length of the journey each time. All of this should condition your dog to accept the time he must spend in the carrier as normal, and this will lessen the stress of travel.
Now for the car journey to Florida. The Sherpa bag is great for a carry-on during the flight, but it's not the safest way for your dog to travel across the country. I recommend that once you hit California you make a stop at a pet supply store and purchase a plastic airline crate. This will give your dog more room than the bag, and will provide a lot more protection in the event there's an accident.
One final thought... You may have already spoken with your airline about preparations for your dog's travel, but if you haven't, be sure to call right away. You may find you need to provide proof of vaccinations and health.
Thanks for your question, and I hope you have a safe journey.