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Travelling with dogs: How to train your dog before travelling

Travelling with dogs: How to train your dog before travelling or visiting dog friendly cafes, bars and other public venues?

Number of dog friendly cafes, bars, wineries and breweries is increasing  across Australia. This is fantastic news to all dog owners who wish to travel or take their puppies with them in the social scene. We recommend always training your dog before taking long trips or even short weekend getaways. This doesn’t need to be hard. Just start with teaching your dog the basics of outdoor training, socialising and leash manners. The last thing you want is your dog to be displaying nuisance behaviours and being asked to leave. This won’t make for a fun trip.

We teamed up with dog trainer Taylor Wheeler from Dog Training Lifestyle to give you a brief summary of the essential training before taking your dog to your social scenes or on holiday.

On or Off Leash?

I would suggest starting your training a month prior to holidaying. Always begin at home, the back yard and your street. Then, when you are ready, begin your training at some local parks or go for a nice stroll in a public area where dogs are welcome on leash. I never suggest taking your dog off leash unless you are 100% confident that your dog will come back and not wander off.

Your dog should only be allowed off leash if they are friendly with all breeds of dogs, people and children. Keep in mind, off leash dog parks are actually not the right place to start socialising your dog. Your dog needs to learn the appropriate manners before entering to the off leash area for their safety and others. Every dog deserves the chance to roam in freedom, but a long lead would be a great tool to use so that you still have control at all times. I always teach my dogs distance training with a 10-metre lead. Although, when you are holding on to the lead be aware that this can be a tripping hazard, so take caution.


If your dog is not always friendly or is just learning to socialise, can you still take them away on holidays?

Yes. I believe desensitising your dog is important. However, you don’t want to put your dog in a stressful situation. If your dog is showing signs of aggression or is nervous around others, first begin your social training at home or with a friend’s dog under supervision. If your dog could potentially bite, then they are not ready to be surrounded by lots of dogs. This can cause stress for your pet and injury to others.

I always suggest being as safe as possible, this means on leash only and use a face guard. A face guard is an open “muzzle” that does not close the mouth. Your dog is free to bark, growl, drink water and receive treats. This will protect your dog and the general public whilst making you feel much more relaxed. A face guard will also allow us to learn our dog’s behaviour as we can examine their natural response without suppressing it. Remember that safety is always priority, otherwise the outcome can be detrimental.

There are many things you can do and take to help your dog adjust to travelling or just make it an easy, wonderful experience. First suggestion would be to take your dog’s bed. If you don’t have an easy travel bed, get one before you go and allow your dog to sleep on it so that their own smell is comforting at night. Remember, dogs love routine. They love to have the same equipment and bedding. Therefore, you can help make them comfortable by bringing their bedding, toys and bowls. 

Also, take treats on your trip. Even when your dog isn’t in training you should be. Reward them for accepting a new environment, meeting new people and being mindful of their manners. It will definitely help create a long-term travelling program. 

There are lots of reasons why dogs may become sick in the car and this is not always due to motion sickness, it can sometimes be from feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This is rather common especially with puppies. You can purchase car sickness tablets for dogs from your vet. However, I would first suggest conditioning your dog to the motor of your vehicle by practicing turning your car on and off for a few minutes at a time and rewarding with treats. This way they associate the sound of the motor and vibration of the car with praise, building their confidence.

Once your dog is feeling more comfortable, then start driving short distances to rewarding destinations such as the park or beach, your dog will learn to relate a car trip with a fun, positive experience.

The fact that cafes, restaurants and hotels are so accepting of dogs around the world is amazing and definitely something we want to last! We must remember though, not everyone is a dog person and that’s ok. Not everyone is a cat or bird person either. However, be mindful of others around you. If your dog is poorly mannered around food, then I would suggest doing training before taking them to a restaurant. This way we can all enjoy the perks of having our dogs around in public places.

My first suggestion would be to start training at home with your dog on lead. Teach them to lower their energy and wait in the seated or lay down position at the dinner table. If you prefer no dogs near the dinner table then practice at the outdoor table in the backyard. Have them wait calmly until you finish eating. This will help them adjust to the new world of dining out. 

For your first outing, choose a quiet café that has lots of room between tables. I like to bring a small rolled up towel so my dog feels comfortable laying on the floor and will relax more easily. 

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