Whether you're traveling to go to a competition or just taking your dog on a road trip there are a few things that will either make the trip pleasant or completely uncomfortable, not to mention unsafe.
Just recently my family and I drove over 7 hours to go on a beautiful hike. Well worth the drive. We took our 3 year old dog with us. I have traveled with dogs in the past so this wasn't my first trip. There are a few things that made the trip comfortable that I want to share with you.
1. Get a designated area for the dog.
I have an SUV so this was easy for me. I understand not everyone has an SUV but try to get an area cleared for your dog. This will make the dog comfortable since it wont be stepping all over your things. If you think you can just cram the dog back there because you have no room you'll be setting the dog up for long hours of discomfort. Take the extra step and figure out a system that allows you to pack as much as you can while giving your dog plenty of room.
Try to use a crate if possible! this will make it that much easier to travel. Please introduce the crate before you take your trip. Take your time with it, and make sure there's plenty of reward history. Use a crate that is big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably. If your dog is squeezed in a crate for a long period of time it wont be fair at all.
2. Don't just throw the dog in the back of your pick up.
I know this is very tempting when you have a pick up truck. Don't do it. You may tell yourself you wont hit anyone but you never know. They're called accidents for a reason. You may be the best driver there is but it wont stop the worst driver from hitting you. You have a seat belt and the impact may be minimal on you but it will be a big deal for your dog. It's a major safely concern that is illegal in some areas. Even if you get a harness that acts as a seat belt you're still doing your dog a disservice by leaving it in the back of the pick up.
If you have a pick up and you're going to put your dog in the back, crate it. Once you've crated the dog, strap it. A crate floating around is just as bad.
3. Leave the AC on and the windows cracked when you leave him in the car.
Depending on how long your trip is, you're gonna have to stop to get a bite to eat and/or stretch your legs. This means you're going to have to leave your dog in the car more than likely. There is a way to do this SAFELY.
Depending on the weather you might be fine just cracking the windows. If the weather is cooler there will be no need to leave the AC on. If the weather is warm, don't take risks at the expense of your dog.
What you want to do here is disconnect the clicker or car alarm remote from the key-chain but leave the key in the ignition with the car running and the AC on at low temperature, if not full blast. When the car is idle it can affect the intensity of the AC. Crack the windows a "just in case" for well, just in case the AC or your car dies.
You also want to park near the window of the establishment and I would add parking in reverse so that from the inside of the building you can get a good view of your vehicle. The reason I suggest parking in reverse is because most dogs are kept in the back of the Car/SUV/Truck.
If your dog has never been left unattended (specially if it's not crated) give it a test run first before you go on your trip.
4. Give your dog time to potty and stretch it's legs too.
Your dog also needs to move around so time potty breaks accordingly. I know you want to get to your destination fast but trust me it'll be better in the long run. Plan your dog's potty breaks on your terms. If you've been driving for five hours now and you think your dog might be due for a potty break, stop when you see an appropriate area. The worst thing you can do is wait till it's too late or your dog is freaking out and now you have to stop on the side of road with a lot of traffic or in a questionable neighborhood.
Please have your dog on leash at all times on these breaks. As we were driving to Palo Duro this car stopped on the side of the road, a dog came out and went right into the road. Had there been more traffic when this happened we would have seen a dog meet its end.
5. If you have to stop for the night, book a pet friendly hotel ahead of time.
You'll be surprised to know not every hotel welcomes pets. Fortunately there are plenty of hotels that do. Do your research and schedule this ahead of time unless you're planning on sleeping in your car in some parking lot.
6. Enjoy the trip.
Don't rush unless you have a deadline. Stop and go for walks and make the trip memorable. It doesn't have to be a long walk, 10 minutes is short and sweet, if you can do more, great!
If your dog has motion sickness you can give it dramamine, but please consult a veterinarian first! he/she'll help you with dosage appropriate for your dog. It can help. There are other meds that can be administered for dogs with motion sickness but I'm not a veterinarian so please check with your dog's veterinarian first!
Crating a dog that has some motion sickness can help also, covering the crate can also help to block the view.
As dog trainers, it's easy to get caught up in the "I have no time to train my dogs" lie.
We have dogs to train, clients to talk to, businesses to market and e-mails to send. We barely have enough time to train our clients' dogs, that it's easy to just forget to do a training session with our own. Before you know it, your own dog is blowing you off, your demos are not as smooth and the reliability of your own dog becomes questionable.
Another problem that arises when you don't have enough hours in the day is that you may run the risk of not training your client's dogs by the end of the day.
We know that everyone has 24 hours in a day. What you choose to do with them is what makes the difference. I'm not talking about working till late hours of the night and getting up at the crack of dawn (although it wouldn't be a bad idea), I'm talking about managing those few hours here and there, those 15 minutes here and there that add up, I'm talking about multi-tasking.
I wont bore you with more "Use your time wisely" crap. I'll get right to the point. You don't have to be a hard-working overachiever, you can still take breaks and you can still enjoy time off and be done when you're done. My experience with time management range from working about 5 to 10 dogs plus private lessons and consults to training upwards of 30 to 60 dogs, in some occasions by myself.
Here are some strategies that have helped me when I trained dogs from my home and for someone else.
With this type of schedule you're actually training throughout the day. This is only ideal if you work for yourself. It can work great if you get bored easy or your attention span isn't that great. I preferred this method myself when I trained dogs from my home.
The way splitting works is by training, taking a break, train again for a few hours, take another break to run personal errands or just rest, then train again.
This strategy may seem unorganized at first, but make no mistake, it's intense and you have to hold yourself accountable. You have to set deadlines, give yourself timelines and stick to those times.
Here's an example of what splitting can look like:
*6:00-9:00AM Train dogs and/or send e-mails or talk to clients
*12:00PM-3:00PM Train dogs and/or send e-mails or talk to clients
*6:00-9:00PM Train dogs and/or send e-mails or talk to clients
Obviously, this is just an example that may have to be adjusted according to how many dogs you're training, how many private lessons you have scheduled, etc. The example above gave you 9 hours of training and fulfilling your duties as dog trainer. You would schedule appointments for those times and calls for those times. You really need to stick to your breaks because it may be easy and tempting to get things done then but you can only do that so much before you burn yourself out and become miserable. You may have to train more or maybe even less depending on your workload.
With Lumping, you're working a set number of hours pretty much non-stop. Once done, you take the rest of the day off. If you're working for someone else, this is probably the schedule you're sticking to.
If you are working for yourself you can still follow the lumping schedule. It's easy to burn yourself out if you don't watch it though and you need to remember that at some point you should pull the plug and call it a night. Otherwise you will burn yourself out fast. As stated before, you should schedule appointments and phone calls for that time if you can help it, not after you're done.
Additional tips for getting as much done as possible:
_Run! No I mean it.
Literally run! When I worked between 30 to 60 dogs, sometimes all by myself I trained every single dog in that kennel. I was expected to to do so and I could not live with myself I a dog missed a day of training. So I ran. I would run to a kennel, get the dog, run to the training area, train the dog, run back to the kennel and get the next dog. I took breaks but I got a lot done. I was exhausted by the end of the day but I was satisfied that every dog had been trained at least once if not more.
You can actually train more than one dog at a time. What I used to do when I trained dogs for myself was train more that one dog at a time. The dogs that have advanced obedience can practice their down-stays/sit-stays/place-stays while the newer dogs can work on basic commands. "Well, what do you do if one of the dogs leaves the stay exercise?" You can back-tie the dogs doing the stays as a safety net while they're on place or down with no tension on the leash. I also have a crate nearby so that if I to tend or physically help the other dog, I can just put the dog I'm working with in the crate while I help the dog on the stay.
This is also a good way to train your dog as your client's dog's get trained. I used those sessions for client's dogs as valuable opportunities to work on my dog's stays (Distance, Duration and Distraction)
_Train during mealtime.
Dogs have to eat at least once a day, right? for my personal dogs, they were training sessions. My dogs ate twice a day and these were opportunities for my dogs to earn their meal as well as doing a training session.
_Get up an hour earlier and/or go to sleep an hour later.
If you're overwhelmed with clients and dogs, don't fret, you can still make things work. Here's a strategy that works great. Get up a bit earlier. It could be an hour or an extra two or three hours earlier. Why in the world would you want to do that? because if your day starts a couple of hours earlier, these are times when you don't have to worry about the daily distractions of your family or clients because chances are they're sleeping, so you can get a full hour or two or three of non-stop, uninterrupted training.
If you get up an hour earlier and go to sleep an hour later, that's an additional 2 hours you have to get things done.
The biggest problem with time management is discipline, not lack of time. It's one of those things that require constant work on our parts to ensure we are getting the most out of our day.
This is a short, no-bull and unbiased comparison of each approach. I hate close minded thinking, in part because I have to guard myself from that way of thinking since it's so easy to fall into.
Both "balanced trainers" and "force free" trainers are very guilty of name calling, finger pointing and shaming. I myself have been guilty of this on my page when I felt strongly about a certain trainer.
I honestly don't think people intentionally go in the dog training field just so they can engage in constant arguments. The close mindedness comes from a good place, at least in the beginning. Later, people just argue to win, not to see the other person's point of view.
Dog training is an interesting field to be in because the differences in temperament and personalities of each dog, combined with the different specialties in the dog training field, demand a wide array of approaches from dog trainers. This easily leads to the mentality of "I've found that this is the best way to do x,y and z..." which can lead to "This is the only way it should be done..."
Here I will lay out a short comparison of each dog training approach:
FORCE-FREE DOG TRAINING
This approach on dog training is very positive reinforcement based. There are truly knowledgeable people on this side but unfortunately the majority of trainers on this side just slap the label on them without fully understanding the principles of this side of the quadrant.
Force-free training or Purely positive training, operates under two quadrants. Positive Reinforcement and Negative Punishment. That's right, I said negative punishment. This means the dog loses a privilege, or the opportunity for a reward is lost as a direct consequence of a behavior you want to stop or reduce the rate of.
Force-free/Purely-positive training is not wrong! Positive reinforcement works great! So does Negative punishment. The intentions come from a good place. Most trainers start here because it has a great emotional appeal to us as dog owners.
Here is a list of situations in which Purely-positive training is a great approach:
-Teaching new behaviors on dogs of all ages
-Enhancing old behaviors on dogs of all ages
-Working with dogs that have physical ailments or handicaps overcome certain obstacles
-Teaching fast and accurate responses while maintaining a good attitude
Trainers on this side of the spectrum are unfortunately constantly chastising owners and dog trainers who don't agree with their way of training dogs. They are quick to call anyone who doesn't agree with them, ignorant and abusive. That's not to say every Force-free trainer conducts themselves this way, but a lot of them do.
This approach of dog training can be more hands on. Unfortunately, there really aren't a lot of knowledgeable dog trainers on this side of the spectrum. A lot of people who consider themselves balanced dog trainers aren't really balanced, they're just a bunch of crank-and-yankers who use praise as positive reinforcement because for some odd reason, they believe using food is bad.
Ideally, a balanced trainer operates with all 4 parts of the quadrants. Positive and Negative reinforcement as well as Positive and Negative punishment. They are all different and yes, they are scientific approaches since these terms were not coined by dog trainers but by scientists. As stated earlier, unfortunately many so called balanced trainers don't know their rears from their treat pouches. These people are the ignorant ones Purely-positive trainers refer to when they point the finger at the Balanced approach. These uneducated Balanced trainers give the rest of us bad names and soil our reputation.
The list of things a Balanced approach is good for are the following:
-Teaching new behaviors and enhancing known behaviors (Through the use of Positive Reinforcement)
-When using gentle leaders and no-pull harness (Contrary to popular belief, these tools operate under Negative reinforcement, which as we know, doesn't have to be scary or painful)
-When poison proofing or doing snake avoidance training (Which can ONLY be done through the use of Positive, unconditioned punishment. Whoever says otherwise is either lying or completely ignorant to this type of training)
-When crittering, or "cat proofing" a dog with high predatory aggression towards small animals (Counter conditioning and desensitization here is futile since the dog doesn't want to create space, but rather the opposite)
-When teaching boundaries (Through the use of all 4 quadrants)
-When helping dogs with disabilities or handicaps overcome obstacles (Through the use of Positive and Negative reinforcement [no-pull harnesses or gentle leaders])
-When teaching fast and accurate responses (Through the use of all four quadrants)
Overall, I would like to remind everyone that dog training should NEVER be about winning arguments or picking sides. It should always be about the dog and the family who owns the dog in need of help.
Don't be arrogant and please realize that there are things you don't know. You'll be better off listening to someone else's side of the story and making your judgement on that rather than quickly assuming the other person is just WRONG. Yes, sometimes the other person is just wrong, I know.