Planning to take your four-legged family members along on your holiday adventures this year? If so, here are 15 pointers from Cesar Millan, covering everything from air travel etiquette to off-leash practices to dealing with a potty accident in a hotel lobby.
Just like nobody likes a screaming baby on a plane, nobody wants to deal with an out-of-control pooch at a party, so follow the Dog Whisperer's advice and make sure the roads, rooms and skies stay pet-friendly.
1. If you and your dog are flying, crate the dog before entering the terminal, because inside, you may become distracted by the check-in process.
2. You definitely don't want your dog flying with a full bladder or stomach. "I myself like to let Junior [his frequent-flying pitbull] fast a little, control the water intake a little, and definitely let him relieve himself one more time before going in the terminal."
3. When flying with a dog small enough to go under the seat in a crate, it is acceptable to bring the crate out from under the seat as long as it doesn't bother your neighbors. Be respectful and always ask people nearby first.
4. However, taking a dog out of its crate during flight is not safe for the dog or, potentially, for yourself and your neighbors. Think very carefully before you do this and make sure the flight attendant is aware and has given you permission.
5. When a dog is very scared, the scent of lavender oil rubbed into one's hands may calm it.
6. Also try a deep tissue massage beginning on the spine. The pelvis of the dog normally carries the tension, as does behind the cranium. Just make sure that you yourself are calm and centered first. You should never try to help your dog when you feel bad about how he is feeling.
7. The more you go away from the city, the more you go into different settings for your dog. Remember there could be deer, squirrels or any sort of unknown wildlife, so be mindful about the dog getting distracted. People could also be throwing food on the floor that you may not see at first glance but your dog will smell and try to eat, so make sure you always keep an eye on the environment.
8. Even in cold weather you can't ask a dog to stay in a parked car for more than two hours. You always need to keep a window cracked to allow in fresh air.
9. When you stop midway through a driving day, let your dog out to pee, play with him if he has energy, but there is no need to feed him. Motion sickness for dogs is very different than for humans and this means that he would rather wait until you're not moving anymore to be fed. If it has been a long trip you can give little pieces of chicken or mini snacks, but space them out. He should get protein to be satisfied, but not a whole plate that will make him sick.
10. Rescue Remedy can help a carsick dog feel better.
11. If you're checking into your accommodations and your dog has an accident, don't be embarrassed. People understand it is a dog. Let him finish, don't interrupt; then ask the staff for cleaning things and apologize by cleaning up.
12. If your dog growls at strangers in a new environment, he's nervous, not aggressive. It's nothing for you to be concerned about. When a dog growls, it is just communication, not the beginning of an attack. He is just saying, "Those people are too close, too excited or giving eye contact and I don't know how to handle it." Redirect with a little bit of food, or don't move and wait for the humans to move. If you back away, it confirms his fear. Don't nurture the behavior by saying, "It's ok," and petting him. Just stay quiet and relaxed, let him feel your calmness, and he will understand that is how he should react. Once you have defused the situation with the dog, you can apologize to the human.
13. Similarly, if your dog takes to howling or barking in your hotel room, he is probably nervous and just trying to communicate. Do not reward the behavior by giving him affection or sympathy. Use your calm assertive leadership to show that you have the situation under control. If it is not nervous, but nuisance barking and howling, the problem may be a lack of exercise. Take your dog out for a good long walk to drain his energy.
14. Rules of thumb when considering bringing a dog to a holiday fair, a sledding hill, or any other open-air festivity: Do not take an unexercised dog into a crowded or excited situation. After a long walk, a well-socialized dog is usually welcome, but bear in mind that some states have laws regarding dogs being in places where food is served. Do your research before you head out.
15. Yes, owners of "toy" dogs, these rules apply to your pets, too. It is important to remember that just because a dog is small it doesn't mean it can't be dangerous if it is not well socialized. Almost all dog problems in modern society come from two things: lack of exercise and lack of leadership. Additionally, especially in America, owners tend to give affection, affection, and more affection, when what the dog really needs is exercise, discipline and then affection. It's very important that we honor the identity of a dog so he can find his life force with us.
And make sure you always, always have poop bags with you. I often take my Cesar Millan DOOG walking belt with me on vacations to ensure I have everything I need to hand. It is a belt that holds poop bags, wipes, has a pocket for keys and even allows you to clip the leash to your belt so you can walk around and enjoy the scenery hands-free. To get more great information or a DOOG belt of your own, visit CesarsWay.com. You can also watch Dog Whisperer at its new home on Nat Geo WILD.