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How to Connect With Your Dog While Studying Abroad

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Studying abroad is a common experience for many college students. The chance to see the world, experience other cultures, and further your studies all at the same time is an excellent opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up. Of course, if you’re a pet owner, it can complicate matters a bit.

Studying Abroad

The Challenge of Bringing Your Pet Overseas With You

The first question that should be answered when it comes to studying abroad is why can’t you simply bring your pet along with you?

The answer typically isn’t that you can’t so much as that it’s extremely difficult to do so. Flying with a pet is already a complicated affair that requires numerous logistics, including making sure your pet has its required shots and has had a recent physical exam. Airlines aren’t particularly accommodating to pets, either. Even the restrictions for service dogs and emotional support animals have even been tightened in recent years.

Once you manage to get your animal to a foreign destination, things don’t get easier, either. Many foreign countries will require a quarantine period for any pets coming in. Then, you’re still going to need to find living arrangements that allow pets. If your school hours are long, you’ll need to figure out how to let them go to the bathroom and make sure they’re fed as well. With all of those factors and more, bringing your pet with you for a few months or a year studying abroad is a complicated task at best, impossible at worst.

The natural conclusion for many students is to leave their pets behind while they’re gone. Even if you have a relative or a friend who can watch over your pooch or cat-sit for a few months while you’re away, that doesn’t change the fact that putting a few thousand miles between you and your four-legged friend is going to be emotionally distressing at times. That’s when you’re going to want to have a pet-focused video chat system ready to go.

Studying Abroad

Why Connecting With Your Pet While Studying Abroad Matters

It’s tempting to think you’re going to want to stay in contact with your pet primarily for their sake. After all, you don’t want them suffering from separation anxiety while you’re off making memories without them, right? The ability to see them over a video chat from time to time should help calm that ruffled fur.

However, research has been inconclusive regarding both if and how your pets can recognize you over typical 21st-century long-distance communication devices. The ability for an animal to recognize you on a screen, for instance, often depends on how much time they’ve spent watching television. Their ability to recognize your voice, on the other hand, is often easier, although it still isn’t universal.

Regardless of the animal’s ability to recognize you or not, it often ends up being the owner as much as the pet who needs that lifeline to their animal companions. As you experience new and exciting things abroad, a chance to regularly see, talk to, and connect with your pet can help calm nerves and bring a sense of peace.

Setting Up a Video-Chat Pet-Lifeline

If you find yourself distressed at the thought of leaving your pet behind as you pursue your educational adventures, don’t worry. It won’t take much effort to set up a regular form of communication to keep you both connected.

Studying Abroad

It all starts with the camera. You’re going to want to get a good pet camera to post in your home, bedroom, or whatever location your pet is going to be regularly inhabiting. There are many quality pet cameras on the market that cater to different needs and budgets. If they’re living with someone else, see if you can get permission to post the camera near the crate or bed in order to facilitate your communication without interfering with the homeowner’s privacy.

In addition to a camera for your pet, you’ll want to make sure you have things set up on your end as well. In fact, having a quality video camera isn’t just good for your bond with your pet, it’s a critical tool in any modern student’s tool chest. It allows you to stay connected to other students and communities while you’re studying abroad.

While it’s not required, getting a tablet, laptop, or even a phone with a large screen is a good way to ensure that you can both see your pet easily and stay connected to your fellow students, friends, and family back home.

It’s also important to make sure you’ll have a good internet connection wherever you’re studying. If you’re in a city center in Russia, for instance, you should be able to access the internet fairly easily, although you may incur roaming fees. If you’re located in a more rural area or are located in a less developed nation, you may have to scrounge about a bit more to find a good connection.

Finally, you’re going to want to set up a video chat system that has a noise or other sound that can alert your pet to the fact that you’re calling in. Even if they can’t recognize your image or voice, you can train your pet to respond to a video chat noise in a Pavlovian fashion that will bring them scampering at the sound. Even if they don’t understand what’s going on, at the least, this gives you a chance to see their cute faces for a few minutes whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Staying Connected

Bringing your pet with you as you study abroad is filled with challenges. However, leaving them behind doesn’t have to mean you won’t see them for months on end. A simple pet video chat system is an ideal way to keep in touch with your four-legged companion as you spend time apart. It can allow your cat, dog, or other animal to be steadily reminded that you’re there for them and provides a sense of peace for you as well.

Jori Hamilton is a writer from the pacific northwest. You can follow her on twitter @Jori Hamilton and see more of her work at writerjorihamilton.contently.com.

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