Training a New Puppy for Summer Travel

Posted by Billy Francis

If you adopted a pandemic puppy within the past two years and are thinking about taking him on a road trip or flight this summer, it’s time to start travel training your furry companion. Safe and comfortable passage for you and your puppy requires planning and preparation. Check out these training tips to make the journey smoother for all passengers and to prevent anybody searching for the emergency exit.

Training at Home

“The journey starts at home.” Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Dogs who are crate trained early in life find a sense of security in having a space that’s just for them wherever they go. Both car and air travel are safer if your pooch is used to the space she’s traveling in. First, find a crate that’s suitable for your travel needs. If you’re planning a road trip, find a crate that not only fits your car, but also allows your pup to be comfortable for long distances. Large dogs can stretch out in this roomy foldable crate, while smaller pups will like this affordable Sherpa bag that’s also approved for air travel. Canines traveling as checked baggage on an airline will need practice in a hard-sided crate.

Once you’ve selected the appropriate crate for your best mate, it’s time to train her to use it safely. Taking the time to crate train your new pooch while she’s young will pay off in the long run. Skills like this are also beneficial if you have to spend time apart during the day.

  1. Start off by moving daily meals inside the crate to provide a positive association.
  2. Next, hold a slumber party for one (Fido) inside.
  3. After a few successful sleeps, try a few hours during the day to get her used to being in the crate at different times.
  4. If you give in to whining and let your dog out, this behavior is likely to continue in the future.

In addition to crate training, socializing your puppy is important at this stage. Introduce her to cats, other dogs, and children as early and as often as possible, and try walking her in new, unfamiliar places. This will help your pooch get used to unpredictable things she’ll likely see during her travels. Be sure to reward and praise your pup for good behavior around new people and in new places.

Training for the Car

Photo by iSTock/JaneFaizullin

Puppies are bundles of energy, and that’s why we love them, but this boisterous behavior in the car can be a distraction to the driver. While crate training is the safest way to travel in the car, a booster seat or a seat belt harness combined with a hammock car seat cover will keep your rambunctious co-pilot out of your lap and out of trouble. Before you begin your big adventure, take time to get your puppy used to traveling in a car.

  1. Begin by walking your pup calmly to the car and making her sit while you open the door. Practice staying by rewarding her for waiting. Once she understands “stay,” allow her to enter the car calmly and safely and once again reward her when she catches on. Do the same thing if your dog is using a crate in the trunk.
  2. Treat searches are a great way to get your puppy used to traveling in the car. While parked in a safe place with the engine off, scatter her favorite nibbles in different places around the vehicle. Then, while keeping her leashed, open the doors and let her find them. Then, do the same thing with the doors closed while you sit in the driver’s seat. Once she’s comfortable, turn on the engine while she sniffs around, letting her get used to the sound. This tasty training tip helps to alleviate any negative feelings she might have about the car.
  3. Before starting a long journey, practice with short trips to get your pooch used to the movement of the vehicle.
  4. As a new puppy owner, you know your delightful little doggy can be hyper at times. If she gets excited at the thought of hopping out of the car when you arrive, don’t reward this behavior by letting her out immediately. Wait until she calms down and try to keep your own vacation excitement to a minimum even if you want to scream “we’re at the beach!”

If your dog is prone to getting car sick, try a treat containing ginger, which is shown to alleviate nausea. Fresh air can also help, but if you ride with the windows down, your pooch should always be secured with her head inside. You can also keep your dog distracted and calm with a puppy chew toy.

Training in Public

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Welcome to your final destination. Please proceed to the vehicle exit, grab Fido’s leash and set foot on an adventure. Teaching these basic commands can improve your experience in new surroundings.

  1. Teach your pooch to “Wait” at the doorway of any stores that don’t allow dogs. Start by using a leash to walk your dog to a door at home. Tell her to “Wait” and proceed through the door. Reward her for waiting nicely. If she tries to sneak through, close the door and try again.
  2. Does your pup like to bark a loud “hello” to every new person she meets? You can solve this with another keyword: “Quiet.” When your pooch barks excessively, say the word and reward her for quieting down (even if she only stops barking for a second).
  3. Avoid the risk of your pup taking a solo adventure by teaching her to come when called. In a fenced yard or dog park, remove her leash and allow her to run. Then, practice kneeling down and calmly saying her name until she returns. No matter how long it takes, always reward her with a treat.
  4. If your pup is prone to pulling on a leash, purchase an adjustable harness like this one from Ultra Paws, which features a belly strap to prevent her from backing out or breaking free.
  5. You'll also want to be well-stocked with treats when you’re teaching your furry pal new tricks or exploring somewhere new together. Pet Botanics Training Rewards are the perfect size to keep your pooch interested without overfeeding her.
  6. Once your puppy has grasped the basics, bring along another pack member to your chosen training location and go through her usual routine with noises and other distractions. Reward her for ignoring them and focusing on you. And don’t forget to have fun. Training your puppy is a chance to spend quality time together and grow your bond.

Final Countdown…

Photo by BringFido/Tracy

To keep your pooch feeling tip-top when she’s away from home, it’s important that you get a pre-trip checkup from her vet. This visit is a good time to ensure all necessary vaccinations are taken care of and any health issues are addressed that could pose a risk in new surroundings. Once she gets the all clear to travel, give yourself peace of mind and insure your new best friend before your adventure begins.

How do you train your puppy for travel? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by iStock/onetouchspark.