Traveling with a dog or multiple dogs is one of the most fun and rewarding things that you can do. We’ve been through 10 countries with our dogs and have traveled by car, boat, plane, and motorcycle. It’s not difficult to do once you get the hang of it, but there are some important tips to learn in order to do it effectively, safely, and have a great time doing it.
Dogs need as much consistency as possible in order to be comfortable. Over the years I’ve tried to get our dogs as accustomed to change and inconsistency as possible without stressing them. Just like us, the more gentle their entry into travel and the younger, the easier it is to adapt. Some of the key things that I found make the biggest difference to them being comfortable are consistent feeding times, frequent and consistent walks, good training and plenty of exercises – both physical and mental.
2. Mental Excercise
As my friend Matt from @TheZenDogLA says, mental exercise trumps physical exercise, meaning when they are stimulated in a positive way and have to think, they get tired without always having to be exhausted physically.
3. Obedience Training
General obedience training and training tricks are great ways to improve your bond with them, stimulate them, tire them out, and have fun. Plus a dog that is well behaved is welcome almost everywhere, and if he/she can entertain with some cool tricks, you’ll both make a lot of new friends. My friend Andres had a dog called Rocket Man. He taught Rocket Man to speak on a secret cue phrase. So when Andres would be in a conversation, he would look at Rocket Man and say “What do you think Rocket Man?”, and Rocket Man would start talking (in a dog of course). Everyone loved it.
Training obedience is also a huge safety issue, always, but especially when traveling. A dog with a great recall and great sit and stay won’t find itself in traffic or chasing something it shouldn’t. It will be welcome in restaurants, bars and at people’s homes, and is much easier to deal with if it gets hurt or needs to go to a new vet. I always take all of my dogs to the vet together, even if only one needs treatment. That way they get used to the smells and Vets and it isn’t always a negative experience. Plus the dog being treated seems to appreciate and benefit from the emotional support.
4. Make it clear that you are in charge
Training also helps with consistency and makes a dog comfortable. As a pack animal, the safety of the pack and of each member depends on a good leader. When a dog knows that the human is in charge and taking care of things they can relax. When they don’t feel that the leader is competent then the dog gets nervous and that is where behavioral issues often start. The key is to understand how dogs think and communicate, because they aren’t going to learn how we do it.
To let them know that we are in charge, we have to be in charge of and provide food, water, shelter, make sure things are safe, and be clear about our place. There are a number of great ways to communicate this. One is being in charge of the food, and so in our home (or car/ hotel/ motorcycle), our dogs don’t eat until we give them permission. Another is making sure that our energy is calm and this relates to safety. It’s pretty difficult to feel comfortable following someone who isn’t calm and stable. Few people would vote for or feel confident following a leader who’s always frantic, stressed or reacting irrationally to people, situations, and events. Dogs are the same.
Our dogs will transform our lives and our friends @keendogtraining in Charlotte get it. That is why they are so dedicated to helping clients to have really well trained, happy dogs that can go everywhere with their owners and enjoy life together. We had a great time with Katrina and her clients on our inaugural trip on April 21st of 2018. Now they have put together a fantastic 31-day event called the Charlotte Scavenger Hunt #cltscavengerhunt which is a special destination every day of the month of May. Check it out at cltscavengerhunt.com
So before you travel with your dog, especially on an extended adventure, make sure that you are clear about your relationship and that your dog is also.
Keep reading our blogs for more tips on traveling with your dogs safely and how to find great destinations, hotels, activities and the hidden gems that dogs will drive you to find that you otherwise may not have.