Training Tips for Your Dog before Your Next Travel Adventure Together

Australian Shepherd Shih Tzu Mix

Travel adventures with your canine companion—whether they’re out of town, out of state, or even abroad—can be enriching experiences, as they expose you and your dog to new situations and let you enjoy the world outside home together.

At the same time, however, any plan to step out of your comfort zone with your pet in tow requires careful preparation. After all, you’ll need to make sure that you can control and keep your dog safe while you’re spending time outside your home turf. If your pup isn’t primed for traveling, then their distress and discomfort can also end up contributing to your own.

If you’re looking forward to traveling with your dog in the near future, then you’ll need to prepare more than just your luggage and that of your dog. Aside from bringing along a dog crate, food and water and their respective bowls, and a leash and nylon dog collars, it’s also a must to train your dog so that both of you can be fully ready for your upcoming adventures together.

Here are a few things you should endeavor to teach your dog before your departure date:

1) Start with Basic Obedience Commands

Basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “leave it” will lay the foundation for effective communication and control during travel. These commands are invaluable in various situations, from navigating busy airports to exploring new destinations that may sometimes frazzle you and your pup.

Incorporate basic obedience training into your daily routine, such as practicing “sit” and “stay” before meal times or reinforcing “heel” during neighborhood walks, well before your departure. You can also dedicate a few days to practicing basic obedience commands such as “come” and “stay” in a safe, fenced-in area or a quiet park. If you can consistently practice these commands in different environments, your dog will learn to respond reliably while you’re on the road.


2) Practice Leash Manners

Proper leash manners are essential for enjoying walks and exploring new urban and rural areas with your dog. Begin by teaching your dog to walk calmly on a loose leash without pulling or lunging.

Practice leash manners during neighborhood walks, focusing on maintaining a loose leash and walking at a consistent pace. Use treats and praise to reinforce desired behaviors, such as walking by your side or stopping at intersections.

If your dog starts pulling, use gentle redirection and positive reinforcement to encourage appropriate leash behavior. As your dog becomes more proficient in their leash manners, gradually increase the level of difficulty by introducing distractions such as other dogs or unfamiliar sights and sounds.


3) Do Crate Training

You may be leaving your own personal comfort zone for some time, but your dog still needs a safe space where they can rest and take a break from the world. Crate training provides your dog with a familiar and comfortable space during travel and other adventures, which is essential for keeping them calm and even-tempered. Getting your dog used to staying in a crate will also help reduce stress and promote relaxation while you’re traveling or staying in a different type of accommodation than you’re used to.

Introduce the crate to your dog gradually and associate it with positive experiences such as meals, treats, and relaxation. Start by leaving the crate door open and allowing your dog to explore the crate at their own pace. Then, gradually increase the duration of confinement, starting with short periods and slowly extending the time as your dog becomes more comfortable. Use a comfortable crate pad or bedding to make the crate inviting to stay in, and never use the crate as a form of punishment.


4) Work on Car Travel Skills

If you’re going on a road trip, it’s also a must to train your dog for prolonged car travel. Start by acclimatizing your dog to the car environment if they aren’t already very familiar with it. You can then use positive reinforcement techniques to create positive associations with the car, especially if your dog only associates the car with events like visits to the vet.

Once your dog is comfortable in the car, take short drives to nearby destinations, gradually increasing the duration of trips as your dog becomes more comfortable to your pace on the road. You can even practice making short rest stops for your dog to relieve themselves, drink water, and stretch their legs.

Make sure to use a secure harness or crate to restrain your dog safely while traveling in the car, and never leave your dog unattended in a parked car.


5) Socialize with Other Dogs and People

It’s also critical for traveling canine companions to develop a level of comfort around other people and dogs. This way, they won’t get too agitated when they’re staying in a place with a lot of people or pets, such as in bus stations, airports, or pet-friendly hotels.

Help your pet practice their socialization skills by exposing them to different environments, people, and animals from a young age. Encourage positive interactions with other dogs and people, using treats and praise to reward friendly behavior. Monitor your dog’s body language and comfort level, and intervene if necessary to prevent overstimulation or conflicts.

Lastly, gradually increase the level of exposure as your dog becomes more confident and comfortable in social settings. This will prepare them for a level-up of those experiences when you go traveling.

It takes dedication, patience, and a proactive approach to properly train your dog well ahead of your travels. During your preparations, remember to tailor the training approach to your dog’s individual needs and personality, and to always prioritize positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods for consistent and reliable results. With proper training and preparation, you and your dog can embark on memorable new travel adventures with confidence and excitement.

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