Travel Smart with your Dog this Season!

Tips from our December newsletter

Viviane Arzoumanian & Rachel C Maso

Does your dog start to pace the moment the suitcases come out? 
It’s likely that your dog associates luggage with being left behind. To change your pup’s mind before your next trip, start taking out your luggage before walks, or when you are going to feed your dog a meal, or even before a playing a game of fetch. By linking these actions, your dog will start to think, “Yay, the bag’s out so something flipping awesome is about to happen!” You’re only risk is creating a pup who is a bit too happy when you are getting ready to go on a trip!

Does your dog know when you're feeling stressed?
Prepare yourself for packing by playing some mellow music, making a cup of tea or having a glass of wine. If you’re relaxed about the process, it’s likely your dog will be more relaxed too. If your pup is still on edge, give him/her a new bone or chew toy to keep occupied and from being underfoot.  

Make sure your dog is really invited
Having your pup by your side can give you some much needed tension relief. Dogs are the best at defusing awkward moments! That is if your family members are really comfortable with you bringing him/her along. Yes, we should all be dog people, and your pup can turn anyone around, but if you hear any hesitation from your host, think twice about bringing your pup along. Make sure you know who else will be joining in the celebrations. No one needs the surprise of their pup stepping on a toddler or knocking over their Great Aunt Mildred. Find out what other animals might be in the home and that they are truly dog friendly. Your Uncle Bob’s cat might not appreciate having another animal in her house! 

How to handle long wait times on the road
Plan ahead, holiday traffic can only be made worse by a dog pacing and whining in the backseat. Give your pup a big run before you go. An exercised dog will be a more relaxed dog. If you are driving a long distance with your pup, research a few dog friendly pit stops along the way so your pup gets some nice bathroom breaks. If your dog doesn’t get car sick, bring water, treats and chews to keep him/her busy, otherwise make sure to bring an exciting new toy or two. If your pup gets car sick, talk to your vet about some anti nausea medication! 

Don't forget your training tools
Depending on the age and activity level of your dog, bring along a cheap pressure gate, a couple of water bowls, lots of treats, a long line (15-50 foot leash), a comfy dog bed (and crate if you use one) and of course enough food for all of your pup’s meals. 

Set your pup up for success
When you arrive, survey the area to make sure it is dog safe. Those who have never had a dog before are likely to know very little about dog proofing. Keep an eye out for bowls of snacks left on the coffee table (especially chocolate), a Christmas tree with low hanging ornaments or a tree stand with water exposed (this water can make dogs sick), kids toys lying about and an open kitchen with pies cooling on the counter. 

If there is a tree, make sure the stand is covered. Place full water bowls in a couple out of the way locations, to avoid their being knocked over, so your pup has plenty of healthy drinking options. Remove all low hanging “fruit” around the home and use your pressure gate, or put your pup on a leash to keep your pup from being underfoot in the kitchen. Place you pup’s bed and toys somewhere out of the way so s/he can choose to leave the party whenever s/he needs a break.

Time to relax
Be prepared for someone to fall for those puppy dog eyes and feed your pup from the table. Don’t worry, all of your pup’s good manners aren’t going to go out the window in a couple of days. Just make sure that everyone knows what items are safe for dogs to eat and which are not. If you are the culprit, don’t let your pup lick your plate or climb in the dishwasher– that might fly at home, but it’s likely to offend the sensibilities of your family members! If it’s all getting to be too much, remember, your dog is a great excuse to remove yourself for some fresh air. Take your pup for a walk and bring along that long line so that you both can work off some energy, not to mention calories! 

A homemade gift everyone can enjoy!
Remember all those treats and presents you brought along? Well no need to buy your pup a gift this year. Take used cardboard boxes and wrapping paper to make an awesome puzzle toy for your pup. Wrap a few treats into the crumpled paper and place in a box, and then let your pup have at it! This trick will keep your pup focused, well behaved, and will keep the whole family entertained!