Monday, October 4, 2010

Traveling with our dogs

We just got back from 5 days in San Luis Obispo, enjoying the annual plein air painting art festival.  We took all three dogs with us.  We stayed at a lovely vacation rental right in town that doesn't allow dogs, but that's OK, because our dogs never came inside it.  Because they're crate-trained and because they each have their own crate in the car, they happily slept there each night.

The first few days were quite hot so we took a great deal of care to ensure that they were always cool and safe.  We parked in open, covered parking garages, leaving windows wide open with a crate fan blowing on the door of each crate, to ensure a comfortable and constant air flow throughout the car. 

Because they travel so well we were able to zip out to the dog park each day, and let them play there for a bit and get some exercise.  But the biggest bonus was being able to take them to an area of the beach in Morro Bay where you can let them run off leash.  Bella, our Borzoi, ran like the wind and it was magnificently beautiful.  Our Lab convinced her to go into the water up to her knees, which was a first.  We all had a blast.  And you can tick off the behaviors that were previously trained to enable this: a solid recall, and great socialization skills.

We'd go out to dinner each night and then take a long walk through the little town with all three dogs, giving them another chance to stretch and get some exercise (skills:  loose-leash walking, heeling, "leave-it", and great socialization).  Other times we'd take one out for various activities and leave the other two in, rotating them so each got some one-on-one time (for example, while we were watching the artists create paintings in the mission plaza on Saturday morning, we traded the dogs off but never brought all 3 out at once).   At one point we both had some work to do on our laptops, and we set the dogs up on their beds (taken from their crates) on a beautiful wrap-around porch at the home we rented, and tethered each dog to the railing to keep them on their beds  (skills: "down").  We opened the french doors and let them hang out with us, meaning they could see us but they could not come in the house with us.  They enjoyed it an snoozed and were very relaxed.

We drove up to Cambria for a day and the dogs of course came along for the ride.  It was just a joy to have them with us and better yet, it was easy because they are so well trained.  I don't say that to brag, I say that to encourage you to do the same-- because it enables you to spend much more time with your dog in the long run.  They had much more fun than they would have if we had left them home with a dog sitter coming in to care for them.

Think about how you can increase your bond and your time with your dog by training him to be easy to travel with.  Share your experiences and comments with us here at the blog!

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