The holidays mean seeing friends and family – in their homes or your home. Of course, you are going to be taking along your dog, because he or she is a member of your family! A recent SpotOn Holiday Travel Survey revealed that 58% of you plan to travel for the 2020 holidays and 79% of those traveling plan to bring their pup. For those not traveling, 31% are hosting the festivities at their home instead. This means a lot of dogs are going to either be visiting or hosting other dogs.
Is your dog ready for this? With a few tips from our partners in the SpotOn Trainer Network, you can get your pup ready to be a polite house guest or a gracious host.
HOLD THE INITIAL MEETING OUTSIDE
“If your host also has a dog, and they have not met, you will want to meet outside. Ideally on a walk and away from the house, which could be a resource (and therefore guarded) by the host dog,” recommends Rick Alto, certified dog trainer of ExFed Dog Training.
LEASH ON UNTIL THE EXCITEMENT WANES
Whether your dog is meeting a new dog or simply being introduced to a new environment, they are going to experience a lot of excitement. It’s best to keep your dog on a controlled leash until the newness dies down. Take your pup on leash to smell and explore all the places where he’s allowed and greet all the new humans. Once he settles down, he’s going to be more likely to listen to your commands.
Help Your Pup Find His Place
Place training is a helpful method for getting dogs to stop undesirable behaviors and settle down. It’s also a reset for the dog to come back to their attention on you.
“The place cue is super important for your dog to know,” says Lynzie Bacchus, certified dog trainer with Wilo’s Wish Dog Training. “This cue is where the dog finds its own area of the house such as a dog bed, mat or higher platform to relax on. By teaching your dog a reliable place, you can take your dog anywhere as it will be out of the way and minding its own business,” she says. Read more about how to Place Train your dog.
FIND THE BEST POTTY SPOTBe sure to find out from your host the places where your dog is allowed to go potty. You don’t want your dog urinating on their prize roses. And it should go without saying, be sure to pick up after your pup even if it’s in the woods. “Take your dog to the spot and begin telling your dog the signal you use that indicates they can do their business. For my house, it’s ‘go potty.’,” says Alto. “Continue the command until you notice that your dog is exhibiting behaviors like sniffing, circling to find the right spot, or actually urinating or pooping. Be sure to reward with a potty party with lots of praise and a treat if you wish, recommended Alto.”
Stick to the Schedule
When in a new place, it’s important to stick to the feeding, walking and potty break schedule they are used to in order to avoid accidents. You might even go back to the puppy stage and take your dog out right after they eat and then every hour or two just to make sure. If your dog seems to get the routine and the two of you have a reliable potty signal (sitting by door, ringing bells), then you can relax your vigilance.
CREATE A PLACE TO RUN
Your dog's mental health is definitely better when he has a chance to get exercise, especially if he can run off leash and investigate the area. With a SpotOn Fence you can easily set up a containment area in your host's backyard or in a nearby park. Read these tips for seamlessly traveling with your SpotOn System.
MAKE A COZY RESTING PLACE
Not everyone is ok with having dogs on the bed or the couch. Find out from your host whether they are ok with this. Even if they are, bring along a few clean sheets to drape on the furniture and a lint roller to pick up extra fur from upholstered items.
It’s also a good idea to bring a crate so the dog has his own den to get away from all the commotion of the holidays or sleep at night. If your dog does not normally sleep in a crate, it can be a good idea to have them sleep in one (even with the door wide open) a week or so before the trip. Put in a nice dog bed or blanket that smells of home plus a worn t-shirt that smells like you. A chew toy can also help for comfort.
If you are traveling for the holidays, check out our Dog Travel Safety Tips posts to help make it a better trip.