Yesterday we dropped off great Australian Shepherd to his owner in Norcross after completing our Home Dog Training Board and Train Program.  Jake was a great dog and responded wonderfully with our program.  His social issues, walking problems, and general obedience concerns are all now a thing of the past.  Our client was really excited as soon as he saw Jake and really liked the information and training we provided him so that Jake would continue to be great.  During our conversation, he mentioned that the family and Jake were all heading off on a “Holiday Road Trip” to his parents for Thanksgiving and then to his wife’s parents for Christmas.  He knew that Jake was now well trained, but was wondering what to expect for the long car ride and then having Jake at both his and his wife’s parents.

Heading out on a “road trip” with your dog can often be a challenge, but when that is mixed in with the excitement and “tension” of the Holiday Season, that raises the situation to an entirely new level.  Do any of you look forward to that long trip home for the Holidays?  Take a moment and think about a car full of kids, presents, suitcases, McDonald’s bags, and your dog for a 12 hour drive.  After that, think of your dog going nuts in Uncle Bob’s house and then the 12 hour drive home…  Still smiling and thinking happy thoughts?

Before you cancel and call Uncle Bob to make up an excuse why you won’t make it up there this year, let me help.  With some simple planning, it will all be just fine.  Now take a deep breath and review my suggestions:


  • Figure out who and what is going where in the car before the day you pack for the trip.  (You don’t need to pack the suitcases, they can be empty.)  You are trying to make sure there is plenty of room for your stuff and your kids and dog still have comfortable places to hang out. 
  • Get everyone and your dog in the car and drive around the neighborhood for a few times.  Emulate what you could do on the trip like getting gas or driving through McDonald’s.  This is to make your dog calm with the situation he is about to experience.
  • Make sure that you have included some of your dog’s toys and a water bowl.  Bring enough food for your dog for the entire trip up and back.  You don’t want to run out and not find his food while on the road or at Uncle Bob’s.
  • If you are going somewhere cold, make sure that your dog has what is needed to keep him warm.
  • If you are going to stay overnight on the trip, make sure you find a dog friendly hotel. Call ahead to confirm that your dog will be a welcome guest.
  • On the morning of your trip up, feed your dog (and kids) several hours ahead of time and make sure he (and the kids) gets out to go to the bathroom before you leave.
  • Take rest stops often on the road to let your dog out to go to the bathroom and to get some exercise.
  • If you stop for the night, get your dog out immediately for his potty break.  Feed him as soon as you arrive so that he will potty again before bed time.  Be sure to always have someone with him in the room.  This is a strange environment and we don’t want your dog to display any destructive or annoying behaviors that might have the hotel ask you to move on.
  • When you arrive at Uncle Bob’s, have everyone come out to meet your dog.  We want to get all of his “stored adrenaline” out outside before we all to in.


  • Never leave your dog unattended.  We don’t want him wandering off and doing something bad.
  • Be keenly aware of who is in the house and their temperament towards dogs.  If there is a family member who is afraid of dogs, they should not be in the same area as our dog.  You also should be aware if any family members like to be rough with dogs.  Our dog may not like that.
  • Maintain the same rules with your dog at Uncle Bob’s as you had at home.  You must maintain your consistency to show your leadership to your dog.  Remember, you are in a strange place and he is looking towards you for his safety and direction.
  • Be sure to allow a lot of time to be with him. Get him outside to run and jump.  This will keep him calm while in the house and minimize any issues you might have that would be caused through boredom.
  • Your dog will still have to go to potty at Uncle Bob’s.  Make sure that you have the potty pads near him or take him outside using the same schedule you used at home.
  • DO NOT FEED OR ALLOW FAMILY MEMBERS TO FEED HIM HOLIDAY FOOD AND GOODIES.  The same food that makes the Holidays special to us could be poisonous or very upsetting to his stomach.
  • If Uncle Bob is throwing a Holiday Party, keep him away from the party area until most of the guests are in and settled.  Bring him out on a leash and guide him around the room.  Do not allow him to jump or bark.  After you see that he is calm, you can then let him join the party and interact.

Robin and I insist that you call us at (770) 718-7704 if you feel you need any help in having a great dog.  There are more great dog training articles at Best Dog Trainers Norcross Georgia.  Locate all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Norcross Georgia.