The Old Trainer: Making road trips with Fido a breeze

theoldtrainer@gmail.com April 25, 2014 

DEAR OLD TRAINER: We want to take our Maltese, Alvin, when we drive up the Can/Am Highway this fall. Do you take your dogs on long car trips? If so, do you keep them in crates while traveling?

– Rhia, Salinas

Dear Rhia: I always take my dogs when I travel, and I always travel by car.

If the airlines ever allow my dogs to sit with me on the plane I’ll consider flying, but until then I go by car. Of course, I can’t take all eight dogs at once unless Willy Nelson loans me his bus, so I usually take two or three.

Forget the crate. Alvin doesn’t need one. The only thing you have to do is show him where to sit in the car. Place a blanket in the spot you want Alvin to ride and put him on it. When you arrive at a motel, transfer the blanket to the motel and Alvin will feel right at home.

Taking a dog along makes any trip more memorable, and so many people travel with dogs these days most motels welcome them.

Here are some general rules to make your trip a success:

•  Feed Alvin the same food, at the same time, you do at home.

•  Stop at least twice a day at rest stops so he can go to the bathroom.

•  Offer him water every time you stop.

•  Never leave him alone in the car in warm weather.

•  Exercise is more important for humans and dogs when traveling. Make sure you and Alvin both get some every day.

DEAR OLD TRAINER: My wife and I want to take our springer spaniel, Lilly, with us on a road trip.

She is good in the car around town, but has never taken a trip with us. How do we train her for a long trip?

- Darren, Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Darren: Lilly has all the training she needs. The only thing she cares about is where you are. As long as you’re in the car she is happy.

No one knows why dogs love to travel, but they do. One of the pleasant surprises when you pull into rest stops is how many people, including long-distance truck drivers, travel with dogs. The dogs know their business, too. They go to the bathroom, stretch a little, get a drink and are ready to hit the road again.

DEAR OLD TRAINER: I want to drive to California this summer in my pickup. Is it safe to take Dan, my boxer, and let him ride in the back?

- Rich, Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Dear Rich: No. It’s illegal in some states and unsafe in any case.

The wind and dust harm a dog’s eyes, ears and nose. The desert sun is too hot for any dog and Dan cannot take the sun all day. At best he will get sunburned, at worst the heat will kill him.

Thousands of dog fall or are thrown out of pickups each year. There is no safe way to transport a dog in the back of a pickup. If you can’t put Dan in front with you, leave him at home.

Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to theoldtrainer@gmail.com.

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