TAKING YOUR DOG ON HOLIDAY
Time to get packing – you’re going on holiday! Here’s how to make sure your dog travels safe and sound.
Travel tips for your puppy and dog
- Packing: You might like the taste of paradise but quite often your dog doesn’t. Ensure you pack enough of his usual nutrition to keep his digestion healthy – an overnight change can upset his stomach. Also, don’t forget his favourite toys, blankets and bed to make him feel safe in new surroundings.
- Passport: If you’re going abroad check the documentation required by the authorities at journey’s end (your vet will be a good source of information). For travel within the EU a pet passport, an identification chip and a valid rabies vaccination are mandatory. (Although do bear in mind that the dog must be at least 21 days old. Also there are exceptions to the rules expressed in this bullet point when it comes to Britain, Malta and Sweden – so check with your vet).
- Planning: Before returning home your dog may have to be deflead and wormed by a professional 24 hours before travel. Find out who can help you with this at your destination before you travel.
- Ferry: When travelling by ferry, even a short journey requires your dog stay in the car for several hours on his own, so water is essential. Longer or overnight trips require your dog wear a muzzle to and from the on-deck kennels.
- Car: The safest way for your dog to travel by car is to crate him in the back away from airbags and the accelerator. Ensure the crate is lined with non-slip soft material or bedding so he doesn’t hurt himself if you have to take a corner at speed. Plan your journey carefully, allowing for toilet and water stops every two hours. If your dog is prone to carsickness, don’t feed him before you travel, or ask your vet for anti-nausea medication.
- Plane: Travelling on a plane can be problematic as few airlines allow dogs in the cabin (although there are some exceptions to this rule). Check with the airline you want to travel with well in advance.
- At your destination: You’ve made it! The pool will have to wait – you need to acclimatise your dog first. Take him on a walk first. This will help de-stress him after the journey. When you get back to where you’re staying, keep his lead on and walk him calmly around in and outside his new home. He still needs to know his boundaries, where to sleep and go to the toilet. Be prepared for a few indoor toilet accidents. Approach these in the way you first approached housetraining all those months ago. Be consistent with his exercise routine and feeding plan. Then you can relax knowing that he’s happy.
Testing your authority
At 11 months most small dogs will be adult, with medium breeds not far behind. But beware. Extra confidence and independence may have him testing your authority in sly and subtle ways.
For example, a lazy ‘sit’ with his rear hovering off the floor, one paw lounging on the sofa, then two, then – whoa, you’ve got company. Keep up the discipline with firm ‘no’ and ‘off’ commands rewarding only the correct behaviour. Shaking a tin of pebbles at consistent furniture offenders should do the trick and keep them off the upholstery.
When training, only reward your dog for full commitments. ‘Sit’ means rear on the floor. ‘Stay’ doesn’t mean a commando crawl towards you. This final training push should set the ground rules for your dog as an adult and reward you for years to come.
Reading his adult body language
Reading your more mature dog’s body language can pre-empt a host of issues. The following tips on tails will give you a flavour for what your dog is trying to tell you:
- An upright tail with a wagging tip means he’s interested
- Leash up your dog if you see an exaggerated slow swish (especially with flattened ears), as he could be contemplating aggression
- Tail between his legs or occasional slow wagging? He’s in retreat. (Try not to mollycoddle him, this could make him more anxious)
- In general the lower the tail, the less confident the dog.
Why change to adult food?
During his first six months he grew faster than cress on a flannel. The high levels of protein, fat and other nutrients in his puppy food were vital to meet his requirements. Now he doesn’t need such high-octane fuel. If he eats puppy food long after he needs it, obesity becomes a risk.
Premium adult food is specially formulated to provide him with all the protein and nutrients he needs for a full tummy and a healthy life. If he’s extra active (in a good, athletic way, not in a tunnelling into your neighbour’s garden kind of way) then look for specialist formulations or talk to your vet.
Owners of large and giant breeds whose pups won’t reach their full height and weight for up to another 6-12 months should give their pets a large breed puppy formula that has lower protein, fat, calcium and phosphorus levels. These formulas will help avoid the excessive weight gain that can cause stress and strain to their not-yet-fully-developed joints and bones. Supplements such as extra calcium can be detrimental.