A dog is one of the best travel companions you can have. They never complain or become backseat drivers. However, it is important to teach your dog good manners prior to travel. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has declared January National Train your Dog Month and what better time to train your dog to be a good traveler? Follow these pointers to make the most out of traveling with your dog.
Basic obedience training
• Teach your dog basic commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. It is essential for any pet traveler to recognize these verbal commands from the owner. These commands will not only build mutual respect between you and your dog, they will help prevent unacceptable behavior such as excessive barking, jumping, digging, etc. Make sure to go slow and work on one command at a time.
• Leash training: if you do not walk your pet on a leash, you will need to start. Under your supervision, clip the leash to the collar and let your dog drag it around the house. This will help your dog realize the leash is nothing to be feared. Next, pick a time that is normally quiet, such as early morning, and head out the door. Start slow, the key is to have your dog walk beside you. (this is a sign of dominance) If your pooch starts to pull you, stop immediately. Do not let them pull you. This will only reinforce the habit. Also, do not yank him over to you by the leash. Instead, reward him for properly walking beside you with treats or praise.
Socializing vs. Restraining
It is important to know your dog’s temperament, especially if you plan on traveling with them. Remember even with “friendly” pets, there are times to socialize and there are times to restrain.
Socializing – Try to socialize your dog as early as possible. Under close supervision, watch how your dog interacts with different people, pets and places. Always choose appropriate social interactions for your dog, especially in the beginning. For example, an off-leash dog park would probably not be a good starting place. Make sure to reward your furry friend for good behavior. All of these interactions will help when traveling.
Restraining your Pet – A traveling dog will run into many different circumstances where they will need to be restrained. If you run into an aggressive pet or someone who is not pet friendly, you must be able to control your dog. This is where your obedience commands will really pay off. Work on your commands when other pets are around (especially heeling). This will help your dog focus his attention on you, the leader. If you ever have doubts about a situation, restrain your pet.
Your Dog and Unfamiliar Circumstances
When your pet is traveling they will run into many unfamiliar circumstances. To prepare for these circumstances, introduce your pet to as many new environments as possible prior to travel. Here are some ideas:
• Leave them with a relative or friend for a day or two.
• Take them to a pet friendly restaurant and/or hotel.
• Let them join in for car rides.
All of these preparations will help your pet cope with the anxiousness and stress that comes with unfamiliarity. Remember; teach your dog good travel manners prior to traveling. You don’t want to battle with these issues when you’re miles from home.
For more information on pet travel go to www.PetTravel.com.