Perfect Puppy Activities Guide – Chapter 2 – Recreational Activities (Part 3)
Chapter 2 – Recreational Activities (Part 3)
Traveling with your puppy can be a fun adventure—or a nightmare if you’re not prepared. Not all puppies take to car rides. Some are afraid or even become carsick. Others get so excited in the car that you think they’ll explode. And what if you want to fly with your puppy? If you ever want to take your puppy places, you’ll need to teach her how to be a good traveler.
Traveling by Car
If your puppy ever travels by car, she must be secured in a crate or wearing a canine seatbelt. Dogs should never be allowed to be loose in a car. They can get tangled up with you and cause an accident. Or if you’re ever cut off in traffic and have to hit the brakes, they could be hurled about inside the vehicle or even thrown through the windshield. Just as you wear a seatbelt, your puppy should be kept safe and secure, too.
If you have a car that’s small but you have a growing puppy or if your puppy’s crate is too awkward to move in and out of your vehicle, you still can keep her safe with a canine seatbelt. This is a harness that fits snugly onto your puppy, with a loop that secures to your car’s seatbelt or to a bolt on your vehicle’s floor.
Get a seatbelt that has padding for comfort and that can withstand enough force in relation to your puppy’s size. Practice putting it on and off her in the house, using treats as rewards, so that both of you can get used to how it fits. Don’t let her play with it or chew on it. If you find that your puppy wants to chew on her seatbelt, use a chew deterrent spray on it to discourage her.
You can find canine seat belts at your local or online pet store retailer. You’ll also find other products to keep your puppy safely confined in the car. Always secure her in a backseat. If you have passenger-side airbags, they can kill your puppy if deployed.
It’s important that you don’t use the car only to take your puppy to the veterinarian’s office. Hopefully, you’ve started training her to recognize the veterinarian’s office as a wonderful place. It can still be scary for your puppy, though, so you don’t want her to associate car rides with shots or other scary instances. This exercise will help your puppy learn that car rides are fun. It can be especially useful for puppies that get carsick.
- Have treats handy. Put your puppy in the car and secure her in her crate or seatbelt. Mark “Yes!” and give her a treat.
- If your puppy is happy and enjoying this, go on to Step 2.
- If she seems unsure or fearful, take her out of the car casually. Do not make a fuss over her. Put her back in the car and confine her in her crate or seatbelt. Mark “Yes,” give her a treat, and praise her. Repeat a couple times, then take a break. Stay with this until she is more comfortable in the car. Keep in mind, this process can takes days or even weeks to accomplish because some dogs are simply scared of cars.
- Take your puppy for a short drive around the block. If she is quiet and behaving, mark “Yes” and praise her.
- If your puppy is happy and enjoying this, go on to Step 3.
- If your puppy is unsure or seems fearful, take smaller steps. Instead of going all the way around the block, just go down your driveway. You may feel silly, but you’ll be doing a great service to your puppy by helping her become used to car rides that she’ll need for a lifetime. When she is more comfortable, go on to Step 3.
- Go for longer rides. Make sure that they are all positive experiences. For example, take her for a short ride to visit a friend and his dog so that your puppy can enjoy a safe play date.
- If you find that your puppy gets carsick, take shorter rides and try to build up to longer ones. If she still gets carsick, talk with your veterinarian about possible medications that can help.
Traveling by Airplane
If you want to take your puppy on a plane, you need to make a lot of preparations beforehand. Don’t wait until the last minute before making your plans. Airlines are experiencing many changes with security and company mergers, and what was acceptable a year ago may not be today. Also, be sure to check with your specific airline, because the rules may not be the same from one airline to another.
On some airlines, if you have a puppy small enough to fit in an approved carrier that will fit under the seat of an airplane, she will be eligible to fly in the cabin. Airlines regulate how many dogs can fly in the cabin, so get your reservation early. There will be an extra charge. However, this practice of allowing dogs in the cabin is beginning to see its end. If your puppy is larger, she will have to fly in the cargo area in an approved carrier. Some airlines will not allow certain flat-faced breeds, such as Bulldogs or Pugs, to fly during warmer months because they can have breathing difficulties. Because your puppy will have to fly in a crate, it’s important that you crate train her before her flight, or she could become stressed and traumatized.
You must get a health certificate from your veterinarian within a certain time before your flight. Talk with your veterinarian if you’re thinking of using tranquilizers or sedatives—he may not recommend them because they can have adverse affects. Also, make sure that your puppy has proper ID. Follow all airline directions carefully about labeling the crate and providing food and water.
Write down the names of airline personnel who help you with your plans, and keep them with you. Keep in close contact with airline staff in case of any flight delays or cancellations, and talk with them ahead of time about what to do should you experience them during your flight. For example, if you have to change planes on your trip, and you’ve completed the first leg and have an unexpected four-hour delay before boarding your next plane, what will happen to your puppy? If possible, it’s best to book direct flights. During your trip, make sure that you see your puppy being put on the plane. If you have to change planes, make sure that you see your puppy being removed from the first plane and put on the next plane. Most airline personnel are happy to assist you. Should you run into one who wants to simply reassure you that everything is taken care of, you may have to get politely assertive. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your puppy. Mistakes do happen, and you don’t want your puppy to end up in one place and you somewhere else.
Sharing your dog with patients in health care facilities can be wonderfully rewarding. Animal-assisted activities are friendly visits with patients by a therapy team. Taking a therapy dog to a nursing home to cheer the residents is an example of an animal-assisted activity. Animal-assisted therapy is treatment prescribed by a health care professional for a patient involving a therapy team. For example, a physical therapist may request that a therapy team assist a patient who has had a stroke. If the patient brushes the therapy dog or throws a ball for her to fetch, he is exercising his muscles and hand-eye coordination.
Puppies that make good therapy dogs are social, friendly, confident, and love to be handled all over their bodies, even by strangers. They must have excellent obedience skills because they may be working with some very fragile people, so they must be under control at all times. They must be well behaved in different environments, and they cannot be skittish or fearful.
You can start training your puppy for therapy work at a very young age, but she will not be eligible for a national program until she is one year old. Getting registered with a national program is important, because the program will provide you with the education and training that you need to have safe, effective visits. You’ll be evaluated to make sure that you and your puppy have the right skills and aptitude for this kind of volunteer work. You’ll also benefit from liability insurance, so you’ll be protected in case you have an incident.
If you’d like to volunteer with your puppy in animal-assisted activities and therapy, contact one of the national programs that register teams and learn about their requirements. If you have a local group that volunteers with their pets, contact them for tips on how to get involved. Start training your puppy in good family manners, and make sure that she receives plenty of positive socialization. She already brings you great joy—maybe she will grow up to be a dog who is able to share that joy with others!
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