A few days ago, GPF made its TV debut. Early in the interview, Amy states that the key ingredient for fun pet travel is a well-behaved dog. And when she says fun, she means fun for everyone – your family, your dog, other people with their dogs, other people without dogs – because they all shape your pet travel experience. So how did we get to “well behaved” status with Ty and Buster?
We began with long walks, encouraging encounters with friendly people and dogs. At our house, we prevented interactions with family and friends until the dogs were calm and relaxed. We ran errands with the dogs – going to the hardware store, stopping at the bank, picking up dry cleaning – and patronizing friendly businesses when possible. All during this time, we ran through the basic commands of sit, down, stay, and come.
For restaurant training, we started at places where we knew the owners. We went at times of the day that did not have heavy outdoor foot traffic. We looked for seating where the dogs could have their backs to a wall. We ate simple meals that did not take long to prepare, minimizing the time the dogs had to be good. We kept our eyes on the sidewalk and the dogs to anticipate bad behavior before it happened. And we tipped the servers generously!
On the road, we recognized that traveling with pets is like traveling with young children. They will never get themselves dressed or pack up their toys. Patience is a must for a successful trek because it takes more time to do what needs to be done and get to where you want to go. Also, we make sure not to neglect the morning walk so we can get on the road faster or the evening walk because we are tired from driving. We try to limit travel to 300 miles per day to allow 1-2 exercise breaks for us and the dogs en route.
It is incredibly important to realize that your dog must perform well in unfamiliar surroundings. Pet travel involves an additional level of agitation and distraction that you and your dog must be prepared for. It’s all a matter of practice … and progress, not perfection.
This brings us back to training. A well-behaved dog does not happen without an engaged, well-trained owner. If dogs were kids, many would be taken by child services because of owner neglect. Owning a dog is a commitment to be responsible for another living being. It requires an investment of a lot of time and some dollars to ensure that the dog’s needs are met.
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