Training Your Dog to Be a Polite Guest

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dog relaxing at hotelYou are supposed to spend the holiday season with family, so it only makes sense to include your dog in the festivities. When traveling to spend time with your loved ones, it’s natural to want to make a good impression on your host. Part of making the experience pleasurable for all includes ensuring your dog is on its best behavior. Prepare yourself and your pup in advance, so everyone has a wonderful experience.

Minimum Training Requirements

Basic Commands
Traveling with a dog to a new place can be exciting and overwhelming. Your canine companion will want to explore and play. When a dog masters basic commands (e.g., sit, stay, come, etc.), you will guide it better and keep it safer in unfamiliar settings. If your dog is a puppy, you will need to keep a close eye on it during your visit.  


Before staying in a hotel or at an unfamiliar home, your dog should be housebroken. Schedule several potty breaks throughout the day to avoid unwanted and expensive accidents.


Crate Training
The best way to keep your dog out of trouble while you’re on the road, or when you must leave it alone in a hotel room or your host’s home, is to keep it in a crate or carrier. When a dog is in a crate, it will keep hotel staff and unfamiliar people safe. It also prevents your dog from running away when someone opens the door, which the best-trained dog might do if it feels anxious, scared or stressed. Put your dog’s favorite blanket and toy in the crate to help it feel more comfortable.

If your dog does not like being in crates or carriers, training will help it learn to like the enclosed space.


Jumping on Visitors and Begging
When a dog is a polite guest, it does not jump on visitors at the door, bolt outside when someone opens the door, or beg for scraps of food. If your dog has not mastered these skills, have a backup plan. For example, keep your dog on a leash or in its crate until all the guests arrive. At dinnertime, keep your dog in its crate and in a different room.


Barking is generally the most problematic when a dog is alone. If your dog has a tendency to bark after you leave the house, it will likely bark when you leave it alone in a hotel room or another person’s house. If you can’t take your dog with you, think of alternative options. For example, instead of staying in a hotel, consider staying at a dog-friendly rental home or cabin that’s semi-secluded. Other options include hiring a Pet sitter or taking your dog to a daytime boarding facility.

Etiquette Tips for Traveling with a Dog

Ask for Permission to Bring Your Dog
If you’re staying in a hotel with your dog, ensure the accommodation allows Pets. If it does, learn more about its Pet policies. Some hotels, for instance, don’t allow dogs that weigh more than 25 pounds. Others might have restrictions regarding different breeds. Learn if the accommodation charges a Pet fee or requires you to pay a cleaning deposit.

Just because you’re staying with a friend or family member, don’t assume that it’s OK to bring your dog, even if your dog stayed at their home in the past. From installing new carpeting to a child developing allergies, almost any reason that a host might give for not wanting your dog in their home is a valid reason. Do not take the decision personally. Instead, invite the individuals to your home in the future.


Bring Your Own Pet Supplies
As you prepare your pup for its upcoming travels, don’t forget to pack its supplies and toys. These items include food and water bowls, dog food, blanket, toys, leash, harness, waste bags and treats. Having these familiar items will help your dog feel more comfortable in a new place and less likely to improvise, as your host’s shoes or remote control don’t make good chew toys.


Parasite Control
Stick to your routine flea and tick control schedule while you travel with your dog. Missing an application makes your dog more vulnerable to the parasites, which could infest your host’s home or a hotel room.


Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone Right Away
When you arrive at your host’s home or the hotel room, avoid leaving your dog alone until it is more familiar with the surroundings to prevent unnecessary stress. The length of time to wait varies by dog. Some are OK within a couple hours; other might need to sleep in the new space overnight. Once your dog feels secure and more at home, it will not feel as nervous when you leave it alone for a bit.

The first time you leave your dog alone, don’t go far. Take a walk around the block or explore the hotel to see how your dog reacts.


Know Your Grooming Options in Advance
From games of flag football on the lawn to muddy hikes, dogs get dirty. Washing a dog is a messy business. Keep your host’s home or the hotel room cleaner by washing your dog at a DIY dog salon or taking it to a Pet groomer. Because these places have everything you need to clean and dry your pup, you won’t have to pack them with you. You’ll also enjoy the convenience of having someone else clean the washing station after you finish.


Exercising and Staying Busy
A tired or entertained dog is more likely to stay out of trouble or bark than one that’s bored or has pent-up energy. Take your dog on plenty of walks during your trip and give it several opportunities to relieve itself. In addition, pack a special puzzle toy for your dog to play with when you leave it alone or sit down to dinner.

Traveling with a dog and being a guest at a hotel or someone’s home is a privilege. Ensuring your dog has good manners during your visit will help make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone who joins the festivities. If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior and travelling, discuss these concerns with a veterinarian or training specialist.

[Photo from ymvf via Creative Commons 2.0]

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