Many of us want to take our pet with us when we visit friends, go on vacation or shop the local Farmer’s Market.
If your plans with your puppy include travel; then make sure going places is a lot of fun.
First a big DON’T. Don’t take your puppy or new dog to visit every friend and family member in the first day or even week you have it. You may be eager to show off your new family member; but it can be incredibly overwhelming for a dog who doesn’t even know you.
I would suggest waiting 3 to 4 weeks before you begin taking a new pet to visit friends. You want the dog to have a good relationship with you and you want to have a good idea how your new friend reacts to new situations so you can easily read your dog’s body language in case he gets stressed.
I took Falcon to visit some of my friends during Labor Day weekend. I wanted to set him up for success; so, our first trip was just to visit two people. I stocked up on toys and chew items before we left as well. I took Falcon’s crate because we planned to be there for several hours and one of our plans was to go swimming and Falcon would be unable to come with us to the pool.
I allowed Falcon to walk into the house off leash so he could go at his own pace in terms of greeting people and exploring. He was a bit hesitant to meet my friend Susan for about 10 seconds, then he decided she was awesome and that she could love on him all she wanted. The same when he met her husband Terry.
Next, we took a tour of the fenced back yard so Falcon could relieve himself and explore the surroundings.
One of the things I really want Falcon to be comfortable with is being crated in strange places. I set up his crate in my friend’s home and put in a toy and a chew item and cued him to go into his crate. For a few seconds he seemed confused that the crate cue worked in this new location; but after circling his crate a few times he ran in and got a treat. I asked him to come out and we played the game again. In just a few reps he was running into his crate each time I cued it.
I left him crated while we went to enjoy the pool next door and he was quiet as a mouse and when we came back he was asleep in the crate. I let him explore the house and of course he zeroed in on a collection of stuff animals. We just moved them all up where he could not get them. We all adjourned to the living room and watched a few rounds of golf.
Falcon got his toy and a bully stick. He chewed and played for a few minutes then decided just about anything else was more fun to explore. I did end up putting him back in his crate after about 10 minutes just so I could relax and enjoy visiting with my fr
iends rather than make my friends puppy proof their living room.
We were grilling outside, so Falcon got to experience people making really good smelling food that was not his. He did better than I thought and waited a respectful distance from the grill.
On a walk around the yard he noticed a cement horse that was very realistic and about the size of a medium-sized dog. Falcon backed up away from the horse and started barking. I went back into the house and got his treats and we walked around the yard until he saw the horse again. As soon as he looked at it I marked it with “yes” and gave him a treat. In less than 10 minutes he was nose touching the horse on its nose. It was totally his choice to go up to the horse. I walked away from it several times and let him decide on his own if he wanted to keep playing the “look at the horse game.”
He was also crated again during dinner as it would have been too much to expect him to wait quietly while we all ate.
My friend Susan and I also took Falcon on a walk around the block in her neighborhood so he could explore a new area.
Having the crate and having a puppy who enjoys hanging out in his crate were the key to everyone having a good time. I could safely put him in his crate whenever a situation arose that would be too difficult for him. He learned he could pee and poop in a stranger’s yard (always important if you travel with your dog, some dogs get so used to their own spots they have difficulty going somewhere else).
So, get your puppies out there and let them explore, but make sure you set them up for success. Also, remember, not everyone will love your puppy as much as you do. Never let your puppy become an unwelcome guest in someone’s home.
Falcon had a great day and my friends commented a lot on how nice he was and what a great puppy he was.