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Can you travel with dogs who aren't perfect?
08/05/15 at 12:33 PM | Published Under Dog Behavior
Can You Travel with Dogs Who Aren’t Perfect?
Perhaps you’ve noticed people traveling with their small, well-behaved dogs who tuck into a pocketbook and never make a peep and thought, “If my dog were like that, I’d travel with him, too!” I’m here to tell you that your dog does not have to be perfect to bring more joy and happiness to your next vacation.
Let’s look at my dogs as an example:
Ty, our 35-pound Shar-pei, will be eleven years old next month, and has been afraid of strangers his whole life. He loves just a handful of people, and we count ourselves lucky to be among his chosen few – mostly, we suspect, because we scoop his food. On top of that, he was attacked at a dog park when he was young, so he’s also afraid of dogs.
Buster, our 85-pound German Shepherd is eight years old, and came to us as a stray around his first birthday. I don’t think he was properly socialized as a pup and, not surprisingly, he’s insecure around other dogs. When he finds himself leashed to the slow-moving anchor (me), his perceived ability to escape dissolves, and his anxiety increases. Buster’s solution is to bark like crazy to keep the other dogs from approaching him … and it works. No dog in their right mind would come toward him in the middle of an outburst.
Suffice it to say that mine are not perfectly behaved dogs who are a cinch to travel with … and yet we’ve been trekking around the country, full-time, for more than five years.
Why do we do it?
Our pets are only with us for such a short period of time, and no matter how long their lives are, it’s never long enough. We could have waited until we had the perfect dogs to start traveling, but that might have taken a lifetime! All your pup really needs is a handful of basic obedience skills, and time.
Being on the road with our boys has provided incredible opportunities to work with Buster and Ty on overcoming their challenges, and over the miles they’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve also learned a bit about ourselves – there’s nothing like dogs behaving badly to help identify which of your own personality traits could use some tweaking.
How do we do it?
We know our dogs’ limitations and we do our best to make accommodations for them. Some strategies we’ve developed include:
- Walking early and late when fewer people and dogs are out.
- Avoiding dog parks and other areas where dogs like to congregate.
- ALWAYS carrying treats, because training opportunities are constantly presenting themselves.
- Ty wears a “Don’t Pet Me” vest to keep strangers from approaching.
You can do it, too!
Having dogs that are the picture of perfections isn’t a requirement to have a great pet friendly trip. There’s nothing quite like planning a vacation that considers your dog’s needs and sharing it with him!
August’s Featured Destination from Take Paws
Each month we tip you off to a place we’ve visited and that we think you’d enjoy sniffing around. If national parks are your thing, add Acadia National Park to your list!
National Parks have a reputation for not welcoming pets – but that’s not true for Acadia! Dogs are welcome on almost all of the 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads in the park and in most of the public areas. If you prefer Mother Nature with a side of civilization, spend your days in the park and your evenings in pet friendly Bar Harbor, Maine!
Author bio: Amy Burkert runs the award-winning pet travel website, GoPetFriendly.com, which makes it easy to plan a trip with your entire family. Her blog, Take Paws, is an encyclopedia of pet travel tips, pet friendly destination advice, and stories of the adventures she and her husband share as they travel full-time in their motorhome with their dogs, Ty and Buster.