What do I need to know if I want to travel with my dog? How do I keep the dog busy? And what should I bear in mind if there are children in the household? Here you find all the tips and tricks about life with a dog.
Traveling with dogs
Dogs not only accompany us in everyday life – depending on the destination, they also travel with us. For the vacations to run smoothly, there are some things to consider.
Pet passport, chip & rabies protection
To travel to another country, your dog needs a pet passport. Furthermore, the dog must be chipped and protected against rabies. The rabies vaccination is valid three weeks after being given and must be repeated within the required period. In some countries, vaccination alone is not sufficient. In that case, blood must be taken in advance and examined in a laboratory.
Protection against parasites
Particularly in southern countries, some parasites (e.g. sand fleas) can transmit dangerous dog diseases. Be sure to inform yourself about the best protection before traveling with your dog. In some countries, a certificate is required showing that the dog was treated against parasites before crossing the border. Find out about the relevant entry requirements on the official web pages of the respective state government.
Muzzle and leash obligation
Other countries have other customs. That also applies to animal protection or animal protection laws. Thus, there may be a muzzle obligation in public transportation or for certain breeds. Get your dog used to wearing a muzzle and inform yourself about the laws in the destination country.
As in Switzerland, dog regulations are often set at the municipal rather than the national level.
Traveling by car
When transporting a dog in a car, it is essential to consider the following points:
- the dog must be able to stand, sit and lie comfortably in a transport box
- get the dog used to the box and to driving before the trip
- as an alternative to the box: strap the dog to a harness with a special belt
- dogs must not be able to move freely in the car during the journey
- plan regular breaks so that the dog can relieve itself and drink
- ask your vet about remedies against travel sickness
Be aware that 15°C outside temperature and direct sunlight are already life-threatening to a dog in a closed car.
Traveling by train
In Switzerland, dogs that do not travel in small transport containers require a second class ticket (half-price), a dog day ticket, or the dog pass. Abroad, dogs usually also need a valid ticket. In addition, muzzles are sometimes compulsory. Under no circumstances should dogs be allowed to walk around freely on the train. Place the dog in such a way that other passengers cannot accidentally step on it.
Get the dog used to train travel in advance. Start with short distances and gradually lengthen them. Plan train journeys so that the dog can always relieve itself in between.
Dogs should be kept busy, not only physically but also mentally. Otherwise, they are under-challenged and suffer from boredom. However, it is essential to give them challenges that they can master – in other words, not to overburden them. That avoids frustration and keeps them motivated to work with humans.
There are various ways to keep a dog busy. In particular, one needs to consider the characteristics and preferences of the breed as well as the physiology and health of the dog. There are various offers in the field of dog sport. The wide range of literature will help you to find a suitable activity. Additionally, you will quickly find out whether your dog likes to fetch, search for objects, learn tricks, or solve games. It is essential to find the right balance between physical and mental exercise for each dog.
Like wolves, many dogs like to hunt for "prey". Depending on the breed, dogs love to track pieces of food, food bags, toys, or dummies. The food can be hidden in the apartment, in the garden, or on the walk. At first, in a way that the dog can find it easily with its eyes. Once the dog has understood the search task, the hiding places can become more challenging.
Various sports are suitable for physical and mental activity. However, it depends on your dog's health, interest, and the original purpose of its breed what kind of sport it likes best.
Dog obedience schools, clubs, and trainers offer various sports:
- dummy training
- dog dance
- man trailing
- trick dogging
- companion and rescue dog courses
- protection services
There are various intelligence games for dogs available in stores. In the games, dogs need to acquire hidden food by opening boxes or pushing flaps. The games are a great indoor activity – particularly when your dog is not allowed to walk much, for example, for health reasons. Watch your dog during the first attempts and provide support before it gets frustrated.
Everyday life training
Getting dogs used to different everyday situations is essential to deal with them in a relaxed way. In well-thought-out training sessions, dogs can be accustomed to larger crowds and mentally exercised. However, we highly recommend not to overburden the dog.
Contact with other dogs
For many dogs, there is nothing better than meeting and playing with other dogs. Some dogs, especially young ones, also play with unknown dogs. In this case, make sure that the dogs take regular breaks and that play does not degenerate into a scuffle or bullying. Apart from playing together, dogs also enjoy joint walks where they keep an eye on each other, sniff out the same spots, and communicate. Walks are not only a good workout for the dog but also promote its social skills.
Dogs can very easily get accustomed to grooming procedures, examinations, and even treatments. Possible goals for medical training:
- keeping still while removing ticks
- wiping paws after a walk
- keeping still during claw trimming
- brushing teeth
- wearing a muzzle
- applying eye drops
- cooperation signal including exit option for unpleasant treatment (e.g. blood sampling)
- lying still for ultrasound or x-ray scans
Dogs and kids
A lot of children dream of growing up with a dog. However, the dog and the kid have to learn how to interact with each other. To avoid problems whilst keeping a dog, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- never leave a dog and small children unsupervised
- explain the behavior of dogs to the child
- set up a place of retreat for the dog (the kid needs to respect it)
- set clear rules (do not wake the dog, do not disturb it while it is eating, do not take toys away, etc.)
- teach the child to always ask first if it wants to pet an unknown dog
Obesity is a big problem with dogs these days. Since too much hip fat is detrimental to health, you must take care that your dog does not become too fat. A dog is overweight when the ribs can only be felt by applying strong pressure.
- weigh food according to need
- subtract treats, chews, etc. from the daily ration of food
- weigh the dog regularly
- reduce the food if overweight (not too fast)
- make sure your dog gets enough exercise (ask your vet if necessary)
Since a layer of fat insulates well and thus less heat can be released through the skin, overweight dogs have more problems in summer than normal-weight dogs. Therefore, they suffer from heat stroke more quickly. Being overweight is particularly fatal for breeds with a short snout, which can only regulate their body temperature to a limited extent by panting.