Travel is something that most of us enjoy doing regularly. As pet owners, we may choose to do that whilst we leave our beloved floofers with a friend, family member or experienced kennels. If you can’t bear to go on a trip without your little furry cutie though, there are lots of ways to travel with him.
You can take a dog on a boat, train, plane and in a car, but not without training him first. If you don’t prepare a dog for his new adventures, he may struggle with anxiety. It may be that your dog causes a safety issue for you, and himself because of fear. You could find that the trip is less enjoyable for him, and you, because he just isn’t prepared for it.
To help you learn how to train your dog before travelling, you’ll want to try these tips:
Planes and Trains
If your dog can travel in the cabin with you, this will be the ideal scenario. However, they will likely be expected to travel in a carrier.
If this is the case, it is important to get your pet used to his carrier. With no pressure, allow your dog to smell the carrier and get used to being in it in different places. He needs to see it as his safe place so when it comes to the time for travel, he is entirely comfortable being confined in the carrier for the duration of the journey.
Consider the following when you start carrier training your dog:
- Choose a carrier that is considered safe and has good reviews
- Focus on positive reinforcement and never use force or negative reinforcement in training
- Be patient with your dog, this could take time
- Continually encourage your dog
- Don’t rush the process and let the dog get used to the carrier in his own time
- Start by carrying the dog around in the carrier at home, then increase the amount of time you leave him in it
- Make sure you include barking training along with carrier training
As well as carrier training it is important to train your dog for the busy areas they will encounter when they travel by train or plane. Both modes of travel will involve loud, busy places that they may not have been in before.
You can get them used to these places by gently introducing them to as many different settings as possible. Reinforce good behavior with lots of treats and rewards. This kind of exposure training will not only benefit them for their train and plane travel, but for all travel in general.
Getting a pet used to car travel is important not only for a trip, but for potential visits to the vet or moving house.
Usually, pet owners experience one of two issues with a dog on a car journey. The first issue, is anxiety. This can make a dog pant, whine, salivate, vomit and go to the toilet in the car.
Dogs can become anxious in the car for a world of reasons, and so, they require training to help them get over their anxiety. One common reason that dogs get anxious in the car is motion sickness, which is something you can speak to your vet about. Your vet may also have some medication for your dog’s anxiety in the car but, ideally, you can overcome the issue with training.
You can find some great tips about helping your dog overcome car anxiety in this video.
You may also want to consider a doggie car seat which can help them feel more secure during the journey, helping to reduce anxiety.
If your dog is anxious because his car journeys always result in a trip to the vets or something else they don’t like, it is important to give them trips out for other reasons. Lots of trips out for walks and visits to the store for a treat will show him that not every car journey results in something bad happening.
The second common cause of car issues with a dog, is overstimulation. A dog may get so overstimulated because he is so excited and has excess energy.
The car may represent a trip to the park, which is why your dog is so hugely excited about getting in the car. Counter-conditioning is a good way to stop this happening. Letting your dog know that his excitement in the car is not rewarded with an immediate walk, is important. You may wish to drive him in the car at times it does not result in a walk. Or, you can wait in the car until the dog is calm before walking him.
It may help to crate the dog in the car and perhaps even place a towel over it as well (whilst ensuring air can still get in and out). This can help the dog avoid getting stimulated by the smells, sights and sounds in and around the car during the journey. Of course, you’ll want to do the training we mentioned above in relation to carrier training as simply putting your dog in a crate and travelling could result in him simply going crazy inside a confined space.
Another easy strategy to calm your dog for a car journey is to avoid giving your dog attention in relation to his excitability. Don’t pet him, shout at him or respond to him at all. Instead, just ignore him and he may well just settle down on his own.
Other Handy Doggie Travel Tips
To help further boost your chance of a successful trip with your pooch, consider the following:
Travel With A Pet Carrier
Pet carriers are the best way to keep your pet safe without relying on training. You’ll need to check the regulations with the airline you are travelling with if you intend to carry your pet on with you, or if he is travelling in the hold. Pet carriers like pet backpacks can also be handy if you plan to hike with your dog a lot and you want to help him rest his legs if he needs to.
Be Aware Of Where You Are Travelling
Every culture is different in how they understand relationships with dogs. Some cultures readily accept dogs as pets, whereas others understand them to be guard dogs or working dogs only. It is so important to understand and respect other cultures so that you can be sensitive to other people’s boundaries.
Be Aware Of Others
Some people love dogs, and others are terrified of them. Be respectful and polite when it comes to your dog and other people so that you’re sure of other people’s limits, and the limits of your dog.
Ensure Your Pet Is Vaccinated
It is so important to ensure your pet has all the correct vaccinations for travel. If they do not have the right vaccinations, they may not be allowed into the country you are travelling to. This area of pet travel is particularly challenging because sometimes vaccinations have to be given a specific amount of time before travel, so it is important to look into this well in advance of your journey.
Check All Other Legalities
There may be legalities surrounding your pets visit to the country you are travelling to. This could be a visa, medical history or other documents you need well in advance of travel.
You Can Enjoy Many Great Trips With Your Favorite Four-Legged Friend
You might not be sure how to travel with a dog, but with lots of preparation and using our tips above you can train him, and prepare him for the adventure ahead. Soon enough, you will both be making memories in incredible new locations.