TRAVELLING WITH PUPPIES
A new puppy needn’t cramp your travel plans
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRINA MORRIS
Does the thought of travelling with a new puppy terrify you? It doesn’t need to be a nightmare of ‘accidents’ and chewed shoes! New puppies are very adaptable – much more so than old dogs – so they love travelling. Best of all, there is no better education for a new puppy than being on the road.
Meeting new people and experiencing all the wonders – and potentially terrifying ‘monsters’ – of our busy human environment can be exciting at a very young age, when puppies are naturally fearless, but these ‘normal’ things can become very daunting once a dog becomes naturally fearful upon adolescence.
Here are a few tips and preparations to consider, ensuring you, and your new puppy, enjoy your travels on the road together.
TRINA’S TOP TIPS
• Ensure the puppy has had a good vaccination and worming program – discuss this with the breeder and your vet before you head off.
• Check the puppy is micro-chipped and wears a collar and tag engraved with your mobile number.
• Take a couple of private lessons with a qualified dog trainer to learn about ‘Positive Training’ methods before you head off.
• Have crate will travel! Train the puppy to settle in a covered collapsible pet crate, loaded with soft bedding to create a cosy den. This becomes your puppy’s secure haven in the car, inside the caravan and when relaxing outside the van. Note: a chew-fetish puppy will need a steel mesh crate rather than a soft-shell crate.
• Establish a really good training relationship with your puppy so you can ease the puppy into each new experience with positive association rewards (see our next Travelling with Pets column on Positive Training).
• Teach the puppy to toilet on cue, through positive training and ‘capturing’ methods.
• Train the puppy to accept being walked on a lead and to be tied up.
• Teach the puppy how to climb up and down the caravan stairs – this can be a daunting prospect, especially if they are metal, see-through and have a large rise.
• Teach the puppy to cope with being separated from you, so as not to become stressed when left home alone.
• Train your puppy to settle on one particular mat during the day, and to sleep on its own bed at night. You can then move these two resting places around to suit your movements in the tight confines of your caravan.
PRIOR TO ADVENTURE…
When packing your van ready for departure:
• Find a spot out of high traffic areas for the puppy’s bed – tuck it away behind the recliners, under the table or beside your bed. In small caravans, set the pet up during the day on your own bed, protected with a pet hair-resistant covering, to keep them out of the way.
• Place food and water bowls in an out-of-the-way place where the puppy has easy access, but you won’t trip over them. Under the table is ideal.
• Remove any objects, such as your shoes, from low heights to prevent chew-frenzy temptations!
• Ensure all rubbish bins have lids, or are housed inside cupboards.
TRAVEL AND TRAIN
I can hear you thinking: “What? We can’t complete all this puppy training before we leave on our caravanning adventure, or we’ll be parked in the driveway for two years!” Yes, these puppy skills do take time to teach: months, even years! Therefore, there is no point delaying your departure – just head off and train Fido on the way!
Since the puppy’s training begins before you depart on your travels, you have to think about the items you’ll need to take with you, not to mention the space required to carry them all. These include: a crate and a soft bedding, chew treats/toys, tug toys, ball toys, squeaky toys, loads of training treats in a training pouch, a long tethering line, a car harness, some toilet training pads, a tagged collar and lead, high quality puppy food, and a mesh puppy pen/ fencing for outdoor free-play.
Once on the road, remember that every minute the puppy is awake presents you with a training opportunity! Have treats with you at all times and whenever the pup performs any action which pleases you – whether requested or not – reward the puppy with praise and something wonderful (a treat or game). The entire journey – every encounter and resulting behaviour – is your puppy’s classroom education.
This is why taking a new pup on the road is so you have to think about the items you’ll need to take with you, not to mention the space required effective training opportunities, to create confident and friendly four legged travel friends for life!