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Traveling With Your Dog

Traditionally, in the South, the end of winter marks the beginning of trips to the beach. For anyone whose travel plans include the family pet, here are some things to keep in mind for your dog’s comfort away from home, to make your trip more pleasant, and to ensure that as a dog owner, you won’t be making or leaving a bad impression for those who follow after you.

Probably the most irksome issue to both dog and non-dog people alike is the subject of elimination. There are two parts to this: getting your dog to eliminate in new situations, and dealing with waste.

Being a creature of habit, if your dog is used to eliminating off leash in the privacy of your yard, he may be reluctant to relieve himself in a new place while on leash with you waiting, baggie in hand. A little prior training can get your dog used to going on leash.

Before leaving home, take your dog to new places to make sure he’ll eliminate on leash. If he doesn’t, spend some time getting him used to it by taking him out on leash, and waiting until he goes. The first time you try this it may take a while. If it takes too long, go back inside and either keep him on leash with you, or put him in a crate. After 15 minutes or so, try again. Keep this up until he recognizes that he has no choice but to eliminate on leash. Praise a lot. It will get easier after that.

The second part of the elimination subject is picking up after your dog. Always have a supply of plastic bags to clean up after him. I always carry extras so I can clean up anything else I find, regardless of whether my dog did it or not. Beyond being common courtesy, it’s the best way to ensure that dog-friendly places remain dog friendly.

When making plans, make sure your dog will be welcome wherever you plan to stay. Check with hotels or friends and relatives to make sure dogs are allowed. Many places need the reassurance that your dog is trained and under control. Some hotels may prefer you keep him crated to leave him in the room. Check ahead so you’ll know what to expect.

If you’re going out-of-state, carry a current health certificate, including proof of inoculations. If you’re traveling to a foreign country, check on what paperwork you need for your dog — health certificate, inoculation record and the like.

Unless your dog is a seasoned traveler, going on vacation means upheaval. To reduce stress and make the trip pleasant and fun for your dog, stick as closely as possible to your dog’s normal routine, bringing familiar objects such as food and water dishes, blanket or bed, crate, and toys.

Pack your dog’s regular diet and water from home, or use bottled water. Dietary changes can upset a dog’s digestion, resulting in distress for everyone. If he’s on medication, remember to pack it.

Traveling with a crate makes being away from home less stressful for your dog, and easier for you. When a dog is stressed he may express his anxiety by chewing. So it’s far safer to leave your dog in his own crate if you leave him to go out to dinner, or the like. Since the crate represents his room, he will feel less anxious being left in it in unfamiliar surroundings. If your dog is not crate trained, get him used to it prior to traveling.

If you allow your dog on the bed, cover the bed with your own bedspread. Bring towels from home to dry him off if it rains or if you take him swimming, and remember to pack his brush and grooming supplies so you can keep your room as free of dog hair as possible. Think about the guests who will follow you. And consider the management as well — don’t make them sorry they allow dogs.

We are all ambassadors for dogs and for dog owners. This means we have a responsibility to others – dog owners and non-owners alike. If we all show consideration, dogs won’t suffer from a bad reputation, and you’ll be invited back. Have a great vacation!

And don’t forget, if your travel plans don’t include the family dog, phone The Dog Knowledge and set up times for our pet walking service, pet sitting or book a holiday for your dog to stay in one of the Sam’s Town Cottages.

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