With so many people hitting the road for the Holidays, we put together a couple of key points to help you be the best dog owner possible; to your dog, your friends and family, and the public.
Leave No Trace – This is a popular term in the great outdoors, but should also apply to anywhere you bring your dog. If you are staying in a hotel, pack a lint roller, a cover sheet (for the furniture) and POOP BAGS. While many people allow their dogs on THEIR bed, hotels rarely launder their top layer of bedding. Be a good dog owner and protect the next patron from excessive hair on the bed, or carpeting. I use an old king size sheet to cover the bed, so if my dog wants to snuggle, I can avoid getting the bedding dirty. PLEASE, please, please pick up after your dog, and put the poo in the garbage can (outside). Fewer and fewer hotel chains are allowing dogs because dogs are loud, messy, and the owners aren’t being responsible.
Be sure your dog is comfortable in a crate, and confine your dog when they are not supervised. If you need to leave your dog alone to attend family functions, or get a bite to eat, etc, you can avoid a lot of problems (and major damage!) by bringing a crate along that you have already taught your dog is a familiar, comfortable space. While your dog might be completely house trained in YOUR house, most dogs are completely different in a new house, and are likely to chew, dig, or have accidents in a new space. Teaching your dog to stay in a soft crate allows for easy packing!
Be prepared to address barking. Again, in an unfamiliar living space, your dog is likely to get stressed. Teach your dog that he must be quiet in the crate or car. Provide enrichment with appropriate chew items like kongs, bully sticks or nylabones (what ever is appropriate for your dog). Train your dog on a bark collar if necessary.
Be sure there is time in your schedule to relieve the stress (even if it’s excitement) of traveling. Stressed dogs have a short list of activities to take the edge off; Bark, dig, run, and chew. Be sure to rigorously exercise your dog before leaving them crated or unsupervised during your travels. I will often plan my route around big open spaces to let my dog run. In smaller spaces I play tug or practice trick training or obedience (heel, sit, stay, recall, etc), to wear out my dog physically and mentally. That way, when I crate them in the hotel or friend/family member’s house, they are ready to hit the sack and sleep while I’m gone.
Safe travels, and Happy Holidays, everyone!