Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Traveling With Pup

Hi there!  I have to apologize for my absence.  You see, Hans, Cody, Lollie, and I have all been out of town.  We took a nice trip to Minnesota to visit family, and that got me thinking.  How many people really know how to travel with their dogs?  Traveling with dogs is a lot like traveling with's not always easy.  It requires a lot of planning, a lot of preparation, and a lot of attention.  So, here I'm going to give you some simple steps to follow when it comes to traveling with your dog.

Part 1: Preparation

Step 1: Exercise.  Exercise is probably the number one most important thing you can give your dog before you travel, particularly if you have a long car ride.  Your dog is going to be cooped up for quite some time, and expecting a hyper / energetic dog to this peacefully just isn't fair.  So, take your dog to take care, go for long walks / runs, or go to the dog park.  Just make sure your dog is truly tired.

Step 2: Check the vet.  Make sure your dog is completely up to date on vaccinations.  Also, check out the area you're headed.  If you live in colder temperatures, your vet may not often recommend vaccines for tick-born illnesses, but if you're traveling farther south, you may want to consider those vaccines.  Take a moment to talk with your vet over what may be best.

Part 2: Packing
For a longer trip, you should bring along the following items:

-Enough food for the entire trip
-Food bowls
-A bed or blanket
-One good chew toy
-One good play toy
-Shot records
-Poop bags
-At least one bottle of water
-First Aid Kit (optional)
-Collars (with tags)
-Crate (optional depending on your dog and your destination)

Never assume that you'll be able to buy extra anything on your trip.  You might not be able to find your EXACT type of food or toys.  On one trip, I was quite surprised at the difficult I had in finding a quality leash.  I ended up buying a horse lead!

Also, keep in mind that you want to be a good steward wherever you go, so be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.

Oh, and that water bottle?  That's so you can easily water them in the car.  You can always refill it at rest stops, but I found it was helpful to have for in between rest stops.

Part 3: The Trip
First, be prepared to stop more.  If you can usually drive 4+ hours without a stop, please don't ask your dog to do that.  I recommend stopping every 2-3 hours at least (Note: This is also recommended for people).  At each stop, make sure your dog has a chance to stretch his legs, use the bathroom, and drink a little water.

Next, make sure your dog has plenty of space in your car to stretch out.  Your dog should have enough room to sit, lie down, and stand up comfortable.  It's the same rules that apply when purchasing a crate.

Remember what I said earlier about being a good steward?  That really applies here.  Pick up poop!  That was one of my biggest peeves on this last trip.  So often, I'd take my dogs to the designated pet area only to be met with a land mine of dog piles.  You can bet I didn't want my dogs in that area either!  Also make sure your dogs are polite towards other dogs and people.  If other dogs and people stress your dog out, take him to quieter areas.

Part 4: The Destination
The biggest thing here is to actually make your dog a part of your trip.  Don't expect your dog to sit in a crate all day while you go off on adventures.  Find things your dog can do with you.  Go on a hike in a new locale, find a restaurant where you can eat with your pet, or simply go out to new parks and play with a toy.  Remember this is a vacation for your dog too, not just for you.

Lastly, I'm going to reiterate the whole good-steward thing.  If you're in a hotel, don't allow your dog to bark ad nauseum.  If you're staying with friends, clean up after your dog (vacuum up hair, respect rules regarding furniture, etc).  You're in charge of your dog, and it's your responsibility to take care of him/her.  Don't expect others to clean up your mess.

Traveling with your pet can be a truly rewarding experience.  You have a companion and a bit of protection in unfamiliar territory.  How much you get out of it, though, will really depend on how much you put into it.  Have fun with your best friend on your trip!

*One last note: I did not mention seat belting or crating your dog.  Seat belts for dogs have become extremely popular, but recent studies have started questioning their effectiveness.  The safest way to travel with your pet is to put your pet in a crate and secure the crate in the car.  Some states have laws regarding the safety of traveling with your pet, but if you're not traveling to one of those states, how you secure your dog is up to you.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Terror Terrier Tallly

I have a question about my Terror Terrier Tally.
Tally loves to go everywhere with me, but she gets terribly annoying. On walks she barks at other dogs, but I just make her sit calmly next to me till the dog passes and then she's all good so that's not a issue, but at the park if she sees another dog having off-leash fun she goes berserk, she wants to go join them in their game of fetch or whatever they're doing. I try distracting her with training and hikes in the trees but she always tries to escape and chase that dog just cause she isn't allowed to join their play.  Whenever she plays with a dog they have fun and stuff unless the dog is better than her at something.  How can I get her too play nicely and not be such a sore loser? I hate her being on leash while everyone's dogs are playing and chasing each other.

 So, here's my first question: Does she ever become aggressive during these barking episodes?  Has she ever tried to bite you or another dog over a toy?  If the answer is no, then take a deep breath.  She just needs a little guidance.

It sounds like Tally is a typical Terrier.  She has tons of energy, lots of mental stamina, and she has no idea what to do with herself.  So, let's first look at training.

She may know the meaning of the word heel (or whatever command you use), or sit, or down, but just because she understands what you're saying doesn't mean she understands she's supposed to listen all the time.  That means it's time to up her training.  Start to SLOWLY desensitize her to distractions.  If she can be around a calm dog, reward her for being good, then go a baby step up.  Work with her with a slightly less calm dog.  Note that I did not say a hyper dog.  I just meant one who wags its tail a little more.  From there, try to work with an even less calm dog (and so forth and so forth) until you work your way up to a dog who's actually hyper.  Then, start to change the scenery. 

When you change the scenery, you may need to go back a step with your distraction.  That's OK.  It's perfectly normal.  Just take your time and keep working.

In addition to all that, you can also look at some options for corrections.  Corrections vary from dog to dog.  For some, it may just be a firm, "Ah ah!" while for others you may need something a little stronger (look for a post on corrections coming soon).

Lastly, as always, exercise, exercise, exercise.  Walks, runs, bike rides, hikes, games of fetch, swims.  Tally will need all that and more to unwind a little.  If you think she's getting enough exercise, up it anyway.  I can almost guarantee you she still has plenty of energy left.

If you really take the time to work on all that, you'll find that Tally will no longer be a Terror.  She'll just be a simple Terrier.

Oh, and one last note.  A lot of people stress out over their dog barking in the dog park.  I wouldn't.  Sometimes dogs just need that opportunity to be a dog.  The real problem with dog parks is that they're generally full of a bunch of overly-wound-up dogs, and that can cause some problems.  If you're worried about her barking within the dog park, you may not want to take her until you can easily redirect her.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Midnight Eliminator

Oh I have a question! I have a 2 year old cairn terrier, Flapjack. She's the very best animal in all possible ways, except for one thing - midnight pees. When I permit her to sleep in bed with me she doesn't have to go out until morning, but when she sleeps in another part of the house she never asks to go out and pees on the floor. She knows she's made a mistake and acts bashful. What to do?

This problem sounds like a two-fold issue.

First, it sounds like Flapjack may not have been fully house trained.  What is she lacking?  A way to let you know she needs to go out!  How does she signal she needs to go out during the day?  If your answer is that she circles at the door, walks to you, or you just take her out on a schedule, that's fine, but it's not going to be great a night when you're sleeping.  Try teaching her to ring a bell on the door, something you can hear.  The hope would then be that it's easier for her to let you know she needs to go out, and you'll be better able to get up and help her.

Second, it sounds like she simply sleeps better when she's with you.  This may be because she feels safer with you or she's warmer with you, or just that you have a more comfortable bed, but whatever the reason, she sleeps better when she's with you.  Have you ever had a slightly fitful night's rest?  Have you noticed that generally on those nights you need to use the bathroom at some point?  The same is probably happening for Flapjack.  So, we need to help her rest better.  Try giving her a little more exercise closer to bed time, and make sure she feels safe and secure (and comfortable) in her bed.  A crate may be a good option as well, as it tends to help with the security aspect, and it keeps her from wandering off and peeing somewhere.

While working on those two things may solve the issue, I'd like to mention one other thing.  Pay attention to how much water she's drinking and limit her water at night.  You may want to try pulling water up an hour or so before bed time, or just put ice in a bowl so she can't guzzle the water all at once.  Just keep in mind that what goes in must come out, and if she's drinking a lot of water then she's also going to have to pee.

One last, final, important note.  When you wake up and find a puddle of pee on your floor, it's important to not punish Flapjack.  If you don't catch her in the act of peeing, then you've lost your opportunity.  Anything after that is just punishment for punishment's sake, and that's not fair to her.

Good luck with Flapjack, and please keep me posted!