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48–51 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

A Checklist for Traveling with Your Puppy by Car :: How to Begin to Switch Your Puppy to Adult Dog Food :: Tips for Preventing the Return of Your Puppy's Bad Childhood Habits :: How to Stop Dermatitis Before It Spreads

A Checklist for Traveling with Your Puppy by Car

You've probably taken your puppy in the car by now for a trip to the vet or groomer or just for a fun excursion. Perhaps now you've planned a longer trip to a pet-friendly place where both you and your pup can relax. There are many things that could go wrong on a road trip that you want to be prepared for, always keeping your puppy in mind.

A breakdown might just mean that you have to wait patiently for AAA to come but if your puppy's with you, it means having food and water and, ideally, a crate. An accident may not seem serious enough to even cause backlash but if your puppy isn't secured properly, he could really get hurt, even from a fender bender.

Being aware of your puppy's physical and emotional reactions to a long car ride is very helpful. A dog who is fine traveling around the block may get really anxious after an hour in the car. Also, the longer a puppy travels, the more likely he is to vomit. A quick car trip doesn't take much planning but if you're planning on sailing down the highways to places unknown, a checklist is imperative.

Checklist for Traveling with Your Puppy

  1. Bowls - Collapsible bowls work very well for traveling.

  2. Water and Food - Bring a gallon of water or more depending on the length of your trip and pack enough food for two days' worth of meals in case something happens along the way. Pack treats but also have treats on your person to reward or distract your puppy as needed.

  3. Toys - Durable chew toys are best for the ride so you don't have to worry about your puppy choking on or swallowing pieces of something while you're driving.

  4. Extra Leash - Leashes can break, become worn or get chewed up by puppy teeth. Always have an extra on hand.

  5. Vaccination Papers - Keep copies of your puppy's vaccination records in the car for easy access if they're requested.

  6. Poopie Bags - Always bring more than you think you'll need. You'll thank us later.

  7. Calming Aid - Consider bringing a calming aid even if your puppy does well on short trips. Something like Bach's Rescue Remedy could help your pup make it through the trip.

  8. First Aid Kit - These are sold online and in pet stores and contain the things necessary to handle a cut or sprain, eye discomfort and additional items such as tweezers. Make sure your kit also contains a stomach medicine for the queasy puppy, such as Pepto Bismol.

Things to Make the Trip More Pleasant for Your Puppy

  1. Stops - Stop frequently to let your puppy walk around on a leash even it's just for a few minutes. Stop even more frequently to give your pup some water.

  2. Windows - Crack the back windows if you can to let in fresh air and smells.

  3. Safety - Your puppy may be most comfortable in his crate in the back area of the car. Be sure to include a bed and favorite blanket. If your car is too small, consider getting a seatbelt harness for your pup. They are fairly comfortable and will keep your puppy restrained. Some even let your pup lie down.

When you do take your puppy out for a walk along the way or when you arrive at your destination, make sure you know the rules about dogs in that area. Some places allow dogs off-leash, some do not allow it at all. In some towns, you can bring your pup into a store. In others, they're not even allowed to be tied up outside a store. And if you have Bully dogs, check the legislation of any town you're passing through. Some are so strict that you can be stopped and your dog confiscated on the spot.

If you've read Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, you know the joys of bringing your puppy along for a trip. With a little preparation you can make it safe and enjoyable for him. And, besides the comfort of his heavy breathing, you'll also have someone to talk to on those long, lonely roads.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Start Training Your Puppy Right Away

Even though the old saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," in reality you can start training a dog at any age - if the dog is nine weeks, nine months, or nine years old.

Even if you bring home a very young puppy, training and working on wanted behaviors starts immediately after the dog comes home with you. You would start teaching the dog to recognize her name and get her used to a set schedule of when you go outside, when she's fed, when it's time for walks and when it's time for bed time. Even playtime can be training - you're teaching her what she can and cannot play with, not to bite your hands, and rules for your games (such as, when you bite me, the game ends).

Formal training, such as sit, down, and come, can be started at a very young age as well. It's never too early to "shape" behaviors using positive rewards. A good time to enroll into a class is around 6 months old - puppy class.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Dealing with a Puppy That Chews Everything in Sight

Try offering your puppy a variety of chew toys. Notice the texture and softness of what he usually chooses to chew on (that he's not supposed to chew on) and try to pick a toy with that texture and softness. But don't get any toys shaped like any of the inappropriate items he chews. Dogs don't know the different between a chew toy shaped like a shoe and a real shoe.

Also, redirect the behavior. It's very simple to do this. All you need to do is when you see him chewing inappropriate items, show him the chew toy and encourage him to chew that instead. Praise and richly reward him for chewing the right things. Whenever he chews the wrong things, just redirect.

~Tiffany C., owner of Papillon mix

Tips on Housebreaking a Puppy

The best thing I found was crate-training at night, and when you're away from home. I didn't keep my dog crated when I was home with him, I locked him in the kitchen the first week, staying in there to play with him. On the second week we slowly let him have more freedom in the house.

We were always watching, and after all activity (sleeping, eating, playing) took him out right away. I took him out as much as every 15-30 minutes. We took him out the same door always, out to the same spot (by a big field we have beside our yard), said 'go potty, go potty' (he's 2 now, and still goes to the same area to poop) and petted/praised like crazy when he did (good BOY, good potty!) Then right back inside....no playing right after potty. If we played, it was inside, then back out to play, so he'd 'get it' that that trip out was for potty alone. When you pair whatever words (like "go potty") to the action, I think it helps...and he'd go potty on command after awhile. That's nice when you're getting ready to go somewhere in the car, and need him to go!

If he had accidents when in the crate, I never scolded...never. Just cleaned everything up. Nature's Miracle worked wonders for me; it cleans spots and odors great. We would never rub the puppy's nose in it if there were accidents in the house. That's what worked for me.

~Donna C., owner of Labrador Retriever

Training Your Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

My trainer told me that puppies can usually hold it longer during the night, when they are sleeping.

If your pup is waking up and crying to go out at night, you might try pushing her potty breaks back a little. If she normally wakes up at 12, wait an hour, then take her out at 1. If shes fine with that, push it back another hour, til 2, and so on. That's what I did with my dog and it worked well and quickly. Instead of taking her out at 5, I'd wait til 5:30. Then 6, then 6:30, etc. She was sleeping through the night by 12 weeks or so (but I'm sure every pup is different).

~Dana S., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer

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