Posts Tagged ‘Dog Training’

Training Your Dog to Fly in Cabin: Sherpa ‘s Flying Lessons

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Sherpa... soon to fly!

As we mentioned last post, training a dog to fly in cabin isn’t as easy as zipping her in her airline approved bag and taking off. Everybody tends to resist incarceration- at first. How did Raja get so good at it? We capitalized on his most salient desire- to be a constant companion. It wasn’t too hard for him to piece together being in the bag to being in the car and the plane and the train and the gondola and the horse cab, etc.… with us.

Sherpa, however, as a rescued dog, has some unsatisfactory associations with small carrier confinement… being removed from her crowded first home in a crate, carted about to pet shop chain adoption days, transported to a new foster house, etc (perhaps). So, moving off site in a carrier leads toward worrisome expectations, as her experience has proven. Still, the beauty of reconditioning can lead Sherpa to wonderful new adventures near and far (as we say). Same as with people, for animals to be lead away from their fears towards more autonomy and confidence is always always good. So we’re not just going to let this go and end up with Sherpa kenneled back home when others fly.

Last week we mentioned that she likes to hide in a den. Sherpa continues to run under the couch or the bed now and then. She’s terribly sneaky and cute about it, as her video shows. We can work with this. Clearly, she likes a refuge. So, when she slides into any of her several secret spots, we never drag her out and we treat her emergence as a wonderful event. “Yay, Sherpie!”

And always the travel bag stays out on top of her favorite couch, door always open and her favorite blanket folded on the bottom. Don’t know if you can see the Sherpa Security Cam screen capture, but look closely inside the bag. When she’s home alone and nervous, she slips inside. Success is perhaps possible if we’re careful and don’t make her hate the bag.

Sherpa still doesn’t love riding in the car in her travel bag. We get it that she feels she’s being transported to a new home, and she’s pretty much not having that happen! Occasionally she likes to bark at people when she’s in the bag. Not good form.

So she’s taking it slowly. Sitting in the bag when she wants. Transported to short destinations- being carried around the block in her bag, taken out for a burger, a visit to the car wash, carried into the office supply store for a zip drive- or any random item within 15 feet of the door in case we have to make a quick, loud getaway. We have to quickly turn her away from anyone approaching too quickly or anyone peering in the bag too closely. Raja got the idea of the travel bag fast, but he didn’t have his own baggage to mess with his head. Sherpa’s going to have to summon a whole huge load of trust to get herself on that plane. Can she, will she? Raja’s tapping his paw.

Next post we’ll take you with Cy the agility athlete who is going to earn his C-ATCH championship in just a few days! And then back to Sherpa… does she get on that plane and fly cross-continent, or does her barking earn her a drop off in Utah?

Great Travel Dogs are Born… and Made!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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.