We were at a new Home Dog Training client in Kennesaw on Monday of last week working with the entire family and their fourteen-month-old Brittany Spaniel named Dillan. Dillan was extremely rambunctious and had had a lot of problems when it came to listening to my clients and obeying any rules they had attempted to create.
The really excellent news is that the entire family quickly understood what they needed to do and we got Dillan “under control” within a few hours. He had now become an outstanding part of the family, wanting to obey the rules the family had established while displaying immense amounts of love and affection.
As I mentioned earlier, the training was going extremely well. I had completed everything on the family’s “Dillan’s Bucket List” as well as a plethora of other behavioral and obedience exercises I thought they would need with him. As I finished up, I asked them if there was anything else they could think of that we could tackle with Dillan that day. They thought for a moment and then the father replied, “Oh yes!”.
The father told me that the family was going to Ohio for the week of Thanksgiving to visit his brother and their family. Dillan was going with them on their holiday excursion as well. He had never been on a long trip before, and the car was going to be packed to the brim with family and suitcases. Their veterinarian had suggested that they give Dillan a sedative for the trip. Since I had mentioned that we often travel with our dogs, he asked me my opinion.
I began by telling him that we normally direct all “medical questions” relating to a client’s dog to their family veterinarian. This is because the veterinarian is the expert when it comes to the dog’s physiology and how medication could help or hinder a dog’s health or behavior related to the use of a prescribed medication. With that said, I continued by stating that the reasons most clients would consider sedation for their “traveling dog” would be to “assure good and calm manners while on the interstate”. When it comes to telling your dog “Don’t be crazy in the back seat!”, we can provide behavioral suggestions and direction.
It should be an intuitively obvious fact that, when traveling with your dog on a long trip, you want things as calm and uneventful as possible. All you want is to get in the car with everyone, drive to where you are going, and arrive safe and happy on the other end. For my client and Dillan, that means that he will quietly sleep in the back seat and calmly walk around on a leash and go potty in the designated areas every time they stop at a rest stop.
If you have several weeks to plan for the trip, proper training and socialization can accomplish this goal. I told my client that because they were leaving on their trip in just under two weeks, they are on the cusp of achieving the “Dillan is calm in the car for a long car trip” goal. I told him that I had already provided him with the information he needed to accomplish this by what they learned during our lesson today.
But, since they may not have the time to complete the proper “travel training” for Dillan, I decided to provide some suggestions for a “Plan B”. This is the option where their veterinarian provides medication for Dillan that will make him a “perfect travel companion” for their trek up to Ohio. Again, I stated that I was providing him with this information as “another dog owner who has traveled with dogs” and not a licensed veterinarian or vet tech.
This is the advice Robin and I normally provided to all our clients in a similar situation:
Give your dog the recommended dosage a day or two before the trip and monitor his response. Keep him limited to a small area to emulate the confined amount of room he will have when in the car. When you can catch him taking a “good nap”, softly nudge him to get him to wake up. The bumps and turns of the road during the trip often wake up dogs. You want him to get used to having a stimulus wake him up so that it becomes a natural occurrence for him. Take him out at regulated times during the day to go to the bathroom. This will help create a schedule that you will need when taking potty breaks at specific locations along the highway. If he is calm in the enclosed space, doesn’t make a big deal when he is waken from a nap, and goes potty when taken out, it is a pretty good indication that you have a “good passenger” for your trip.
If your dog demonstrates any sort of inappropriate reaction after taking the medicine, is too lethargic to go outside to potty, or becomes sick, call your veterinarian immediately to consider a change in dosage or different medicine. As with most things in life, it is far better to catch and plan for a problem before you are on the road.
Some dog owners have their own, human sedatives. We can’t state it strongly enough that you should never give your dog human medicine before having a discussion with your veterinarian. Some human medications are poisonous to dogs and may cause death. This is one thing that you do not want to deal with while traveling out of town with a car full of family.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and great families and are ready to help you.