Summer vacation time is approaching and many of us want to take our dogs with us on vacation. Statistics show more people are traveling with their pets each year; there are more and more dog-friendly restaurants and overnight accommodations to choose from. However, traveling with your dog does require a lot of planning and preparation. While planning your dog-friendly travel route is important, you will also need to prepare your dog for the vacation. Before you take your best friend, you may want to review this list of skills your dog should know before traveling.

Well-behaved dogs are welcome

Whether you take your dog on vacation or a road-trip, your dog needs to have mastered certain skills to make him a good traveler and to ensure he is welcomed at dog-friendly places. First and foremost, you want to be sure he is well-behaved on-lead and comfortable to be left behind in unfamiliar places.

Your dog should be calm and remain off the tables and chairs. Remember, there are other guests, who may not want your dog to lick the plates or tabletops, and it also is against health code regulations

A well-behaved dog walks without pulling on the lead and needs to be able to walk past other dogs, people, bikes, and skateboards, or loud noisy motorcycles without lunging or barking. Although it’s impossible to train for every scenario, it’s a good idea to practice in your hometown before you take your dog on vacation with you. You can practice with your dog on-lead by taking him to crowded areas, such as Farmers’ Markets or outdoor festivities. If you haven’t taken your dog to local dog-friendly restaurants, it’s a good idea to go to a few in your area and teach your dog to lay under the table out of everyone’s way. Your dog should be calm and remain off the tables and chairs. Remember, there are other guests, who may not want your dog to lick the plates or tabletops, and it also is against health code regulations.

A well-behaved dog should be able to be left unattended in a hotel room or RV without barking or destructive behavior. Be sure to practice leaving your dog in unfamiliar surroundings before you go on an extended vacation trip. Always provide your dog with plenty of exercise before you leave him unattended. Exercise is a great way to make sure your dog is relaxed and comfortable. Bring his dog bedding from home to provide the familiarity of home to any overnight accommodation. If your dog is uncomfortable being left behind, the crate is a good way to ensure he will not destroy any furnishings in the hotel room or vacation rental.

Small dogs that will travel in a pet carrier need to remain quiet and calm while traveling in this way. It is important to get your dog used to this. You don’t want your dog to whine or bark while traveling in the carrier on a long flight

Crate training is another important skill you should teach your dog before traveling. Many hotels and vacations rentals require dogs to be crated while left alone in the room and being in the crate or pet carrier is a must for dogs that travel by airplane or train. Most dogs feel comfortable and secure in a crate, but they have to be introduced to the crate properly and ahead of travel time. Purchase your crate or pet carrier and let your dog explore it for a few days at home, in his familiar surroundings. You should train your dog to remain in the crate for several hours. Have him sleep in it overnight at home. You want to put his familiar dog bedding and some fun toys inside. Small dogs that will travel in a pet carrier need to remain quiet and calm while traveling in this way. It is important to get your dog used to this. You don’t want your dog to whine or bark while traveling in the carrier on a long flight.

Keeping your dog safe

Here are two important behaviours your dog must know before going on an out of town trip: the recall and respecting open doors. These two behaviours ensure his safety and may save his life!

Your dog should be trained to come to you when called. Although you may not intend to have your dog off-lead at any time during your trip, there will be many instances where you need to call him to you. A solid recall is important to ensure your dog’s safety during any trip away from home.

Teach your dog to respect open doorways and to never bolt through an open door. This is a very important behaviour any traveling dog should know. Most dogs get lost during travel because they run out of an open doorway or the traveling vehicle. Take the time to train your dog to wait and be invited to walk through any door, whether car door or hotel room door and to come to you when called.

Traveling with your dog is rewarding and fun, but it does require some added preparation. It’s a good idea to get started early and prepare yourself and your pet for your upcoming travel adventure

Here is a skill your dog can easily learn and it will make your travel time much more enjoyable: teach your dog to potty on command. This can be an invaluable behavior when traveling. Small dogs, that travel by airplane, can be trained to use a potty pad to relieve themselves in public bathrooms in-between flights. Also, this is wonderful when you take quick potty breaks on the road. Most of the time, your dog will be distracted by the new surroundings and to busy smelling all the new smells to think about relieving himself. If you train your dog to potty on command, you will always be able to get him to do his thing no matter how many distractions there are. It is a great way to be able to have your dog empty himself before you go to busy outdoor festivities, check into your hotel, or go to a patio restaurant.

Traveling with your dog is rewarding and fun, but it does require some added preparation. It’s a good idea to get started early and prepare yourself and your pet for your upcoming travel adventure.

Images by Jim Walker.

This is a guest essay by Birgit Walker. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

Birgit Walker is a Canine Travel Expert and the co-author of Keep Your Paws on the Road – A Practical Guide to Traveling with Dogs. Jim and Birgit have trained dogs in Arizona, California, Montana, and Hawaii. They offer dog training services through their company Modern Canine Services in Phoenix, Arizona. Birgit just published two books Chew On This – Homemade Dog Treat Recipes, and Keep Your Paws on the Road – A Practical Guide to Traveling with Dogs. She also authors a blog and newsletter and offers a lively Facebook group that shares dog travel adventures. Jim and Birgit travel with their three dogs throughout the US in their Fifth Wheel.

 

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