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7 Trainer Tips for Taking Your Pup on a Road Trip

7 Trainer Tips for Taking Your Pup on a Road Trip

. 3 min read

You booked your dog-friendly accommodations and your travel water bowl is ready to go. But before you hit the road, our resident trainer Rachel Cohen Maso of Brooklyn Dogtime has some advice for making sure it isn't a bumpy, bark-y ride:

Make the car a happy place

If your pup is not a fan of the car, take baby steps: once a day, walk her up to your car and when she gets close say “yes” and give her a treat. Give a “yes” and treat for any movement towards the car, no matter how small, until your pup is happily jumping in and out! Start the car only once your dog is very comfortable lounging inside.

Go for a test drive

If your pup has only been on short rides she might start to get pretty antsy when you don’t reach your destination in under an hour. Take some day trips and bring along her bed and some chews to keep her happy in transit.

Do some 'potty training'

We humans get a bit uncomfortable using the bathroom in new places, but our pups can get downright confused. Help yours by creating a cue when she does her business. When at her normal spot, the moment your pup starts to go, say your cue such as “get busy,” and when she finishes up give her a treat right away. Do this every time she pees, and soon enough you’ll be able to ask her to go when you need her to. This is a great skill to have at rest stops.

Work on your tether time

You'll be spending a lot of QT together in unfamiliar territory so brush up your leash skills: If your dog is a puller, start by pausing each time she pulls ahead. When she releases tension on the leash, call her back to you and give her a treat when she is standing next to you—then move forward. As you practice, the most rewarding place for her to hang will become by your side.

Create a 'settle' cue

This comes in super handy at an outdoor or seaside restaurant: Start by luring her onto a mat that you’ll be able to bring with you. When her feet hit the mat say “yes” and give her a treat, then ask her to get off the mat and repeat. Once she consistently chooses to run back onto the mat, ask her to lay down. Repeat the process a few minutes a day saying “settle” just before she lays down on the mat.

Get acquainted with the crate

In order to keep your pup, hotel room, or rental totally safe, you’ll want to have your pup crate trained. Get one big enough she can stand and move around inside. Once it’s set up with her favorite blanket, throw some treats inside, shut the door and let your pup sniff around outside it. Wait for her to get excited then let her go in. The moment she finishes eating say “yes” and throw another treat into the crate, do this a couple more times and then invite her out of the crate and repeat the process until she starts hopping in the crate to get a reward. Make sure that your dog is completely comfortable before you close the door and test very short stays inside before leaving her for longer periods of time.

Practice the call back

In order to let your dog run free while on the road you must practice recall at home. When your dog is standing around relaxed, but not too distracted, say her name. The moment she looks at you say, “come,” and start moving away from her. Her instinct to chase should kick in and when she arrives next to you give her a treat, then repeat. Once she’s rocking recall at home practice in your local park, building up the level of distraction over time. If your pup ever slips out of the car, you want to be sure you can call her back to you and keep her safe!

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