Great Travel Dogs are Born… and Made!

Posted by Raja on April 24th, 2012 — Posted in Day Trips

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Dogs retained the wolve's skills of travel and adaption.

The dog comes from the wolf, as we just love to say, and the wolf is capable of many kinds of nomadism: linear, peripheral and random.  Wolves can live on the move for years before finding a home territory.  The domesticated dog, appearing around 5,000 years ago at the latest, was a ranger initially, setting up in an uneasy liminal space outside the campfire of human settlements.  Smart thing, the dog adapted beautifully to helping with the hunt, the herd and the general warmth and cheer of the campfire circle. Certainly, without the dog, there would have been no domestication of sheep, goats and cattle.

So the dog has those travel genes- all of them from the most couch oriented English Bull to the escape artist Jack Russell.  To help create a great  ravel dog, it must be stated, you have to be a traveler yourself.  I mean, if you don’t like to travel, just stop reading.  Your dog is probably perfectly happy in your house with you keeping things cozy.

But if you plan to travel with your dog, here are a few tips to awaken the natural travel spirit of the domestic dog.

Pollo con arroz para mi pequeño amigo, por favor.

Go out with your dog all the time.  Desensitize your dog to the randomness of each outing.  Allow strangers to pat and admire your dog, always  reassuring your pet that everything is fine and saying “hi” is fun.  Do not keep your dog away from noise and activity on your outings.  A confident, friendly dog is a good traveler.  (Raja began his adventure training attending hockey games.  Loud, chaotic and random, the hockey bleachers were the place to learn to be cool and calm.)

Help your dog maintain a safe haven even when out and about. Small dogs can retire to the calm interior of a well-built tote.  Large dogs can learn to face inward to their human companions when the social scene becomes too much.  Gently holding your big dog’s head with your hands over his ears and eyes can give him a sense of retirement so he can regroup on a busy street.  (Raja always selects a toy to have in his tote.  When he’s had enough, he ducks in and chews the toy in peace.)

Always have water and snacks. Your dog needs to know that an outing is an adventure, not a survivalist exercise.  (We think the collapsible bowls are the best.)

Be aware of heat and cold. Small dogs often need light jackets even at 40 degrees F.  Thin dogs always enjoy jackets as the weather dips.  Carrying an instantly activated sports cold pack can save the day when things heat up.  All dogs, regardless of size, can overheat easily, but they cannot cool down as easily as humans can.  (Traveling in hot places, Raja likes a frozen water bottle zipped into the inside pocket of his travel bag.  We ask hotels to freeze them for us overnight.)

If you are planning a big trip, practice first. Overnight stays in a hotel and extended day trips prepare your dog for wider travel.  If your dog will fly, practice using the airline flight bag for local trips extensively before stuffing him in it and flying away.  Travel in cargo is always a risk.  The Travel Dog Blog has no wisdom to share on cargo travel.  While many, many dogs travel safely in cargo, we would grow wings and fly before  attempting cargo travel ourselves.

Food is easy if your dog eats a canned or dry commercial meal, but, if your little gourmand is less accommodating, do research into
local foods available in travel zone.  (I freeze and last-minute pack one home cooked meal for Raja to eat when we land, and after that, I make friends with local sources to cook something for him.  Almost every single culture in the world can manage chicken and rice.)

Bring a toy and a favorite blanket. Sharing your suitcase just a little will help your dog find a home away from home in your campsite, hotel or camel caravan.

Training a Travel Dog is the art of teaching calm while encouraging curiosity, play and optimism- the cardinal traits of the domestic dog.

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