On one hand, road trips with your dog can be a lot of fun. On the other hand, they can be a not so fun if your dog has an accident in the car, or won’t go potty when you take him for a car break.
Your dog’s potty requirements is always a concern and somewhat of a mystery whenever you are not following your everyday routine. You never know how often to stop, and what to do if you stop and he doesn’t go to the bathroom. Other things to think about is when you should feed him and what happens if he doesn’t eat his food when you give it to him.
Here are some very simple rules that to follow to make your trip pleasant and without incident.
The most important thing to understand is that you shouldn’t worry if your dog does not eat and drink as much while on the trip than he normally would at home. He will be in the car and somewhat confined for a large portion of the day. This lack of movement and minimal expenditure of energy will slow his metabolism down. He will naturally require fewer calories to maintain his body functions and he will eat less. Also, dogs do not like to toilet where they live (i.e. their crate). Because your dog will be confined in a space in the car, that space will translate into his “crate” and he will naturally not want to toilet in that area. He will naturally eat less in order to potty less.
Potty breaks for larger dogs should normally occur every few hours during the day. If you are planning to drive through the night, your dog would probably hold it all night, since he would most likely be sleeping, as he would normally do.
When you stop for your break, you should treat it just like a potty break in the back yard. Before you open the car door, attach a leash to your dog’s collar so he can’t escape. Even the most obedient pet can become disoriented when traveling. Always use a leash to walk your dog.
You should initially let your dog out on a long lead that could be ten to twenty feet long. Let your dog run around and play for a few minutes, to stretch his legs. After this takes place, you can calm things down by disengaging in the active play and remove your dog from the play area by walking him around. As his focus changes and his metabolism slows down, any urges to potty will take hold. You should give him at least five to ten minutes to find the right spot to do his business.
The best time to feed your dog should be at least one hour before you plan to leave in the car in order to allow your dog to potty before you leave. If you need to feed your dog while you are on the road, make it small portions. When you stop for the night, feed your dog immediately so that you have time to take him out for a potty before you go to bed that night.
Watch for temperature extremes. Your car is like an oven under the blazing sun and a freezer in the bitter cold.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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