The time for travel has come. Have you packed your toothbrush, your swimsuit, your wallet? Have you taken out the kitchen trash, watered the plants today, fed the dog…wait…the dog. The dog is going with you. That means you have to put Peanut in his dog carrier. Have you prepared yourself for this task? Peanut hates to be locked up and there is no knowing how ballistic he will go in his dog carrier. He will bark, cry and probably bite any unsuspecting fingers that come his way. Is this Peanuts fault or your own?
Training your dog to behave in a dog carrier will help to avoid any last minute disasters if you have to spontaneously take him on a trip. A well-trained dog will allow you to feel more confident in his social interactions and ultimately result in a higher mutual respect. Existing problems only worsen without proper training, but it is important to know that it is never too late to begin teaching Peanut how to act appropriately in his dog carrier. It is important to remember throughout this process the more calm and in control you are the more calm and receptive Peanut will be.
If you practiced crate training for your dog at an early age, then he is much more equipped to adapt to dog carriers. Many people crate train their puppies with the motive of teaching them not to defecate or urinate in the house. The idea is to keep them in their crate for several hours at a time while they are still being potty-trained and then to allow them to go straight outside once the crate is open. That way the owner will always be available to positively reward the puppy every time he releases himself outside. A Dog carrier will remind your dog of his crate and it will take minimal training for him to become accustomed to it.
Even if you have not crate trained Peanut when he was a pup, there is still hope. The most important aspect of training your dog to be comfortable and feel secure in using a dog carrier is to always emphasize it as a positive place to go to. Never scold Peanut and send him to his dog carrier. This will make him connect negative emotions to his dog carrier and he will get nervous and confused when you later try to get him prepared for travel. Use the dog carrier in more situations then just going to the vet. This way he does not associate his dog carrier with solely that experience. There are many daily opportunities to do this. Utilizing the dog carrier to take Peanut to the dog park, beach, and nature trails are just a few of those.
Getting Peanut to enjoy his dog carrier is only half the battle in ensuring smooth traveling. Next, you need to rid him of his excessive barking and aggressive behavior toward strange noises and people. The whole airport experience is filled with mystery voices and sharp clatter. The best way to desensitize him to alarming noises is to always play with him by rewarding him for his tricks when loud noises are going on in the background. If you play with Peanut during a thunderstorm or give him treats for sitting while someone vacuums, then he will be less inclined to connect fear with loud disruptions. If new faces commonly surround him then he will be less impressed with strangers and thus less likely to react negatively. Try carrying Peanut through crowded areas in his dog carrier before letting him frolic in the park. Take him on walks in areas with a lot of social activity. Give positive reinforcement to him every time he lets a stranger pet him.
Next time you are confronted with the last minute need to put Peanut in his dog carrier you will be prepared and there will be no reason for fear of his ballistic behavior again. You will both be grateful knowing that Peanut will be capable of acting appropriately in his dog carrier anytime the situation for use should arise. Training your dog will benefit you as much as it does him. Your dog is only as well behaved as you train him to be.
Ruby Fayed is an avid dog lover and premier article author for TailoredTail
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