Many dog owners dream about taking their dogs on day trips or vacations. This article shares our top things your dog needs to know before you take him on adventures
Our friends and clients are often amazed that we take our dogs almost anywhere we go. We often hear them say:" I'd love to take my dog, but s/he won't do that!"
We find there are many dog owners that dream of taking their beloved pets with them on outings, day trips or vacations, but they fear their dogs would misbehave, be a nuisance or even be afraid and run away.
We find most dogs are happy travelers and eager to join in on all kinds of adventure. So we thought we list some of the things we think a dog should know before going on adventures!
So here are our top 5 things your dog should know to become a happy traveler:
1. Proper Leash Behavior
When you are out with your dog, it's a lot more fun when s/he knows to walk nicely on the leash, either next to you or behind you. This way, you are able to enjoy yourself, without being dragged around. Proper leash behavior isn't just more comfortable, but it also communicates to the dog that you are in charge. So by being next to you (or behind you), you are telling the dog s/he can rely on you in case of any 'danger'. This is so important when you are out and about in unfamiliar surroundings. If you let the dog be in front of you, you tell him/her that s/he needs to be in charge of your safety. This makes any dog alert and can lead to reactive behavior, such as barking or lunging.
Before you take your dog out on trips, practice proper leash behavior at home. You can start inside the house, then move to the driveway and further out on walks. Teach your dog to walk next to you on a loose leash.
You can watch our video to get you started. It shows 2 easy exercises you can do with your dog to teach loose leash walking:
2. Comfy in the Traveling Vehicle
Many of our clients tell us their dogs are either hyper excited or fearful in the car. When you travel with your dog, you want them to be comfortable in the travel vehicle. So whether you travel by car, motorhome or otherwise, your dog needs to know how to relax inside your travel vehicle.
To do this, start with showing her/him how to enter and exit on their own four paws. Whenever possible do not lift the pet inside the vehicle. A dog that got into the vehicle on their own is much more relaxed than one that was put in the vehicle.
Next - WAIT! Wait until the dog settles down, meaning just sit in the vehicle with the dog until s/he finds a place to settle in. Now this may take a few minutes in the first few tries, but it allows the dog to pick a place where s/he feels comfortable. You can place a familiar blanket or dog bed in the spot you want your dog to lay. Be flexible and move the blanket/bed to another area, if your dog chooses it as "the spot". Try to make this a regular spot for the dog to lay in while traveling.
If you prefer to travel with your dog in the crate, make sure s/he settles in before you start the car.
Now you can start the vehicle - but WAIT! - don't just start driving! Rather just sit with the engine running to ensure the dog gets used to the sounds and vibrations. Once the dog is relaxed, you can start driving. On your first few trips, make sure the dog is settled in completely before you drive.
Check out our video below to see Jim with our dog Apollo. Apollo used to hate the car, and now he loves it.
3. Used to Busy Places
Once your dog know to walk nicely on the leash and is comfortable traveling in your vehicle, you need to introduce him/her to some busy places. When you go on outings or vacation trips, you'd likely go to busy places, such as dog-friendly restaurants or Farmer's Markets. Your trips will be much more enjoyable if your dog already knows to rely on you and s/he won't be fearful or anxious when you go into a busy place. Start practicing near home. Go to a dog-friendly store, such as a pet food market or home improvement store. It's a good idea to call ahead and find out if the store you have in mind will let you bring your pet. Take a few trips and simply walk around the store.
Another great way to introduce your pet to busy places is to go to an outdoor event, like a Farmer's Market. I always make sure my dogs go potty BEFORE, so there are no accidents while we are at the market place.
You may also like: Potty on Command
4. Know the Safest Place is with You
One of the most important things for your dog to KNOW is that s/he is always safe when they are close to you. The way you teach this, is to be sure your dog never receives a negative when s/he comes to you. So during your regular training, you may use a negative "NO!" and a correction (e.g. short tug on the leash) when the dog is doing something unwanted, but the moment s/he comes to you, leans on you, or looks to you for direction, you have to give him a positive.
If your dog runs away, but then comes to you, you cannot scold him/her at the time s/he comes to you. This is important, because if the dog gets into unfamiliar surroundings and becomes anxious or afraid, you want him/her to come to you for security.
5. Know to Come When Called
One of the most important commands is the "come" or recall. When you are traveling with your dog, you need to be sure that s/he will come to you, in case s/he gets loose. One of the main reasons dogs get lost on travel is they get scared and run away. If you have taught your dog the safest place is with you, and to obey the recall, your dog will come to you even when s/he is afraid of something unfamiliar.
Make sure you first teach the recall on-leash and then in a secured area. Watch our video to get you started on this important command:
When your dog knows these basic 5 things, traveling or going on day trips will be fun and exciting. The more you are out there, the more your dog will trust you.
If you would like more information on how to prepare your dog for travel, you will like our book:
Keep Your Paws on the Road - A Practical Guide to Traveling with Dogs
It's available on Amazon as a paperback and ebook and FREE to read on Kindle!
Thank you for reading our blog, please comment below to let us know about your dog adventures or join us on Facebook at Keep Your Paws on the Road
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