TRAVELING WITH A DOG
It has been in the back of my head whether or not I should get Taco his own Instagram account. The main reason is because you guys love content with him and he loves the camera. However, if I am struggling with my own social media platforms to keep up, I don’t even want to imagine creating content for my fur baby on top of my own.
And also, most of the times I use Taco for Instagram Likes! LOL
Taco turns 6 months today, and he is by far the funniest, smartest, most lovable and loyal puppy I ever hard. And this is for me so hard to say since Coco (my first Toy Australian Shepherd dog, that now lives with my mom) is my weakness. She is 5 years old, and she stole my heart a 26th of February when we first got her.
I attempted to travel with Coco as well on Tour. She started with me on the West coast swing, starting in mid March in Phoenix. She was awesome to travel with, but a bit of a challenge whenever she needed to stay on her own. Since my first year on Tour favored host families and rental apartments from hotels, so most of the times I was either leaving her with my host family or at the rental apartment. But she was never able to truly handle being alone. And that wasn’t her fault, but MINE.
Having to travel with Taco now, I have learned the things I did wrong with Coco. And since we all become pet owners at a certain time in our lives, regardless whether we travel with them or not, I thought it was cool to share my experiences and the things I have done differently with my new pup.
I want to say every dog suffers from separation anxiety if not trained otherwise because for dogs, we are their world. This was the main issue that got me up at nights when I impulsively got Taco. Robert and I are huge pet lovers, and I was in much emotional pain after my second hip relapse that the only thing that could get me out of that dark phase was the unconditional love and company of a dog. And Taco was a gift to my life, literally things happen for a reason. And Taco is one of those random things that happen in your life.
But I was nervous. I didn’t want to make the same mistake. Even though I say Coco lives with my parents because they fell in love with her, the true story is that Coco wasn’t tolerating traveling that well. Especially when being left alone at the hotel or apartment. So I didn’t want to screw up again. Having a pet is a big responsibility, it is the step before being a parent to a human.
Because of all the pressure I put on my self, I made a huge effort to read, watch documentaries and follow all the guidelines as to how to train your dog to avoid separation anxiety. And the first rule is to get him a crate.
After owing 5 dogs, Taco is the first ever to have a crate. I always thought crates were oppressive. But little did I know, dogs assimilate crates to their comfort zone, to their home. As long as you make it cozy and comfortable, they will love being bound by those plastic and metal wires.
I needed Taco to be able to handle being away from me because I intended to travel with him every where. So the training started since he came to us at 3 months of age. The first things we taught him were the words Taco, mira (which is to look — it is so important they learn how to look to your eyes otherwise they cannot learn hand commands ), sit, stay and come.
The separation anxiety came when we bought him the crate.
At first, I bought him a playpen. For travel purposes, I found in Amazon the perfect portable playpen made out of nylon therefore, super lightweight and easy to assemble and disassemble. But what I thought the extra space was going to give him comfort, it gave him more anxiety and room for tantrums.
However, there was a very strict routine we always did if we were going to live him alone in the playpen. First of all, we will manage so that before leaving him, we would take him out for a good 30-40 min action. The main idea was for him to get tired. Long walks in the sun helps!
After he showed signs of being tired, we will bring him back and remain chill in the room until he was calm. Once he was calmed we made him go in the playpen and we use relaxation music to keep him from not listening to noises outside the room and to keep him chill. If you type dog relaxation music on Youtube, you will find many 3-5 hours long tracks. The issue is to leave your laptop plugged in and dim the screen light.
Most of the time he did fine because he was so tired, he identified the playpen with resting time. And we tried not to leave him alone for more than 5 hours. However, not every time we were able to take him out long enough to tire him.
After a week, he started getting more confident and the tantrums began. That is when we bought him the crate.
To make him like the crate, we filled it up with a pillow and blankets. They remain the same as to date. I have washed them a few times, and he still likes them. So that’s good! But we spend a lot of time using treats to lure him into the crate. Something very important we learned is to NEVER take him out when he whines or cries. Otherwise he will identify the power of crying to getting out. Every time he whined, we would tapped on the crate so that the noise would scare him and he remained chill.
We also taught him stay drills in the crate with us being there. Starting with 5 seconds all the way to 2 minutes. This must be done progressively. Otherwise the dog will desist. And you want them motivated for the drill.
After 2 days he LOVED his crate! And ever since, we never had a separation anxiety problem anymore. So t me, that was the key factor that helped me with Taco that I didn’t do with Coco
Traveling with the crate to give him a sense of home being away from home.
Traveling with Taco has been challenging in terms of organizing and learning about the paperwork needed for him to travel and also adapting to new travel arrangements to minimize overweight fees.
Believe it or not, that same crate you see on the picture above, separates in two pieces, and I collapse them one into the other and fit it into my suitcase. Inside I fit all my clothes. I started traveling with clothes compartments so that I was able to fill in every space.
So my question to you is: How many of you crate-trained your dog? How long did it take your dog to like his crate? Can you dog stay alone in the house with no problem?