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s/o US road trip with a 5-month-old big puppy


SKL
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Any tips?  We are probably going for several days up to a week, driving around the midwest, staying at hotels that allow pets, hopefully doing some hiking and sightseeing to the extent practical under these circumstances.

Our German shepherd pup is sweet with us, but does not like strangers or other dogs, tries to chase cars, and might seem scary to people who aren't used to German Shepherds.  He has also gotten car sick a couple times and puked in my car.  He is potty trained and sleeps in his crate, but sometimes he will bark in the crate if there are noises or other unusual things going on.  He still likes to try to eat small items that are not food, so we never let him roam around without close supervision.

So ... if you've traveled with a puppy (especially a large breed pup), what tips do you have for us?  Other than keep the trip real short??

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Do you have to bring him?  We have a puppy (not sure how old she really is)? She has a few of these issues too and that is why we decided not bring her.  So glad we didn't.  We have taken our older dog on  a trip and staying in a hotel.  She is easy around people and other dogs.  Your puppy doesn't sound like he is going to be easy in  a hotel.

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4 minutes ago, mommyoffive said:

Do you have to bring him?  We have a puppy (not sure how old she really is)? She has a few of these issues too and that is why we decided not bring her.  So glad we didn't.  We have taken our older dog on  a trip and staying in a hotel.  She is easy around people and other dogs.  Your puppy doesn't sound like he is going to be easy in  a hotel.

We don't want to leave him at this stage.  I would rather take a shorter trip than leave the pup.  (Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I would rather just stay home, but people are itching to travel after the pandemic grounded us for so long.)

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1 minute ago, SKL said:

We don't want to leave him at this stage.  I would rather take a shorter trip than leave the pup.  (Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I would rather just stay home, but people are itching to travel after the pandemic grounded us for so long.)

Maybe just doing an Airbnb would be better.  No worries of other people and dogs to contend with in a hotel.  Something not to far away and then not drive around.  Might be easier

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We were cross-posting. Five months is old enough to leave for a week. Ideally, you can bring her for the day once or twice beforehand if they do doggie daycare, or leave her for the night if they don't. A pet sitter is another option, preferably someone very local that can meet her in advance, come twice a day, and spend some time.  

If I couldn't or did not want to leave her, it would be day trips only. Presumably the kids wanted a pup? This is part of having one; sometimes you don't get to do the things you want to do. 

It's not even so much that the trip is going to suck as it is that the trip might have a severe negative impact on training and socialization of a puppy that already does not like strangers or other dogs. It's about making your life easier for the next ten years, not just that one week. 

 

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I agree that kenneling with potential for some training on the side is probably best for pup, your future training with pup, and for your trip. A house sitter would probably be out, right?  You have housemates already, and I’m guessing they don’t want to take over puppy care and training?  If I had to leave a puppy that age, I’d pick the beat kennel around and sign her up for all the extras - doggy day care, etc.

Puppies are difficult travel companions, especially one not fully trained and socialized.  

Also, what is your plan for when you want to sightsee?  Go in a restaurant?  Hike in an area that doesn’t allow dogs? The hiking may or may not be an issue, but I’ve encountered a lot of “no dogs allowed” hiking areas.  You could likely plan around that, but it adds a layer of complexity and thinking ahead to double check the rules.

Maybe the air bnb idea would work?  Or a cabin that takes dogs, with hikes nearby? Most of my travel with dogs (I’ve done a lot, especially when single) involves camping and backcountry hiking.  Hotels are doable, I had one huge dog in particular who was a pro, but he was such a mellow, easy going soul.  A puppy who isn’t friendly with strangers or other dogs would be tough.  Also, the chasing cars would worry me during potty breaks near roads.

Good luck.

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The whole leave him with a trainer thing ... it's a separate discussion, but I don't know if that's a good or bad idea.  I hear people talk about doing it, but I worry about it.  I had a very bad training class experience with one of the companies that does this.  There is no way in heck I'm leaving my pup with someone like that out of my sight.  Not sure how other trainers do things.  How would they prevent my pup from getting into a scrape with others?  Prong collar again?  That set my pup back at least a month.  And what about pottying ... will he be forced to go in his kennel?  Wouldn't that set us back?

How can I find out what a kennel will be like for my pup if I do ever leave him in one?

My sister is his breeder, and theoretically, she would take him for a short time.  But she has a bunch of dogs.  Maybe our Kai would hate all of her dogs and get in fights.  I'm not sure she has a place for him alone.

To answer the question about the housemates - they would be coming with us.  Nobody would be home.

And as for a pet sitter - I don't think 2x a day is enough.  As it is we still feed Kai 3x per day and potty & interact with him a lot more than that.  He has never been alone in the house more than 2-3 hours.  (I guess he's spoiled!)

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Taking him along sounds too difficult. It would be doable if he was an easygoing, sociable puppy - but since he’s not, it will likely be hard on him and stressful for you.

I would look for a very good boarding facility, one where he will get lots of time and attention and won’t be shut in a kennel by himself all day and night.

If nothing like that is available, I would stay home. Maybe let the others go and have a relaxing time at home, just you and the pup?

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The main problem is that your dog isn't adequately socialized around other people and other dogs.  So if you are in an airbnb where you won't have to meet people in hallways like you might in a hotel, that would be better.  And if you have a safe place for the dog to stay during meals (not the car in the summer heat) where the dog won't be in danger of people or other animals approaching, that too would be good.  Taking hikes together is good.  Just check to make sure that the trails allow dogs.  Not all do.  And make sure that you keep your dog leashed. 

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4 hours ago, Selkie said:

Taking him along sounds too difficult. It would be doable if he was an easygoing, sociable puppy - but since he’s not, it will likely be hard on him and stressful for you.

I would look for a very good boarding facility, one where he will get lots of time and attention and won’t be shut in a kennel by himself all day and night.

If nothing like that is available, I would stay home. Maybe let the others go and have a relaxing time at home, just you and the pup?

I agree.

I've traveled thousands of miles with well trained adult dogs, often two of them at a time. It's hard work even with a well trained, well socialized, friendly adult dog. I would not do it with an untrained and unsocial young puppy. I see way too many potential disasters. I'd find a good boarding kennel or your vet, if he/she offers boarding.

If you have to take him definitely, absolutely go the AirBnB route. A free standing house. You don't want to worry about him barking and disturbing people in adjoining rooms or an adjoining condo if you pop out to get a bite to eat or do some sight seeing.

If you do take him you're going to need a good plan for keeping him cool in the car in case everyone wants to stop and grab a bite to eat, some sort of emergency happens or whatever. Be prepared. Bring an extra key and make sure your vehicle will allow you to lock it while the car is running, so you can leave the AC on. You might not think that's necessary, and maybe it won't be, but I'd want to know I had that option available to me just in case.

You'll also want to medicate for the motion sickness. You can check with your vet about that. I'd want Cerenia, which is a prescription you can get from the vet. I'm pretty sure you can give dogs OTC Dramamine and Bonine, but you'd need to find the appropriate dosages. Those also act like mild sedatives, which would probably be good for your pup. If he were mine I'd want to experiment with the medication at home, see how he reacts. You might want an anti-anxiety medication in addition to the motion sickness medication. Again, something to speak with your vet about.

I have no good ideas for how you'd handle feeding a puppy who gets motion sickness three times a day. Generally you want to withhold food for a good period of time (12 hours is often recommended) before traveling with a dog who gets motion sickness.

If you do take him I'd advise bringing along lots and lots of puppy pads and use them liberally for easy clean up if/when he throws up.

But really---for his physical and mental health and for your own I think boarding him or finding a pet sitter is the way to go. Many pet sitters will stay in your home if you're willing to pay them to do that. This time of year most of them will need to leave during the day to care for other pets, but they'd be there overnight and pop in/out during the day.

Any good boarding facility will be happy to let you visit and give you a tour before deciding to use them. I've done it many times over the years.

And this is unrelated and I know you didn't ask, but--At 5 months old with the behaviors you list I'd want to start working with a trainer yesterday.

ETA: I'd also want to discuss parvo risk with my vet. GSD puppies are one of the breeds that are believed to be at increased risk from parvo. When we had our Rottie (also a breed with increased parvo risk) our vet advised an additional parvo vaccine. That was many years ago, and I don't know if that's still being advised for higher risk puppies or not. But I'd want to make darn sure my puppy was fully protected--including time for immunity to develop after the last recommended vaccine--before going on a road trip.

Edited by Pawz4me
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6 hours ago, SKL said:

 

And as for a pet sitter - I don't think 2x a day is enough.  As it is we still feed Kai 3x per day and potty & interact with him a lot more than that.  He has never been alone in the house more than 2-3 hours.  (I guess he's spoiled!)

Right, 2x a day is not enough.  I would think you’d need an actual house sitter who lives in your home with a puppy.  But I would hesitate at even that, for continuity of training.  FWIW, in the future, when pup is an adult dog - our pet sitters come 3x day, with two of the visits being long play sessions with exercise and lots of snuggles.  One dog chases a ball the entire time, the other (large) dog climbs in sitter’s lap for cuddles.  2x a day seems inadequate for adult dogs, too. Our 3x a day sitter still feels like we are letting our dogs down, honestly, so we have neighbor kids who come occasionally and take them out to play as well.

If you take pup on the trip, Pawz had some great tips!  Hope you figure something out.

 

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I'd only take the trip with your pup if we were staying in a stand-alone place like an airbnb, or a cabin.  (State parks around here have camper cabins that are fun.)  

Preferably, I'd leave him with a trainer and consider it a good time for him to get some good training by a professional.   I wouldn't be comfortable having a pet-sitter care for him because he sounds like he needs to be handled very carefully right now.  We had a GS mix once who began showing aggressive leanings toward strangers at just 4 months, so I know what that's like.  It is not easy.

If you take him with you, I'd go somewhere that's just a very short drive away (like, a couple hours), and stay in a little cabin somewhere, where you can have him with you all the time.  Check to make sure he'd be allowed on trails.  Camper cabins we've stayed in have grills outside.  It can be a fun experience just staying by the cabin, cooking over a campfire, playing cards outside, and going on short hikes.  That's something you could probably do with your pup.

 

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You need a relative who could come and stay in your house while you are gone. Any nieces or nephews?

We have travelled with a one year old dog but we stayed in a cabin , and had no issue.  Plus I knew the place had a dog friendly beach and park nearby. We had a ton of fun. So if you are taking him, definitely rent a house/cabin/condo and research ahead of time if dogs are allowed on your planned activities. 

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You guys have me wanting to talk everyone out of this trip.  And you're probably right.  Failing that, the airbnb sounds like the best path.

As for the training, we're certainly working on it.  I think we'd be farther ahead if it weren't for a really bad experience at one training class (I blame the trainers, not my dog).  I have a private lesson scheduled for next week and then 6 more weeks of training classes.  Obviously we work on training every day, but it's not that easy to work on reactivity to other dogs, because I can't schedule other people's dogs to be around.  🙂

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54 minutes ago, SKL said:

You guys have me wanting to talk everyone out of this trip.  And you're probably right.  Failing that, the airbnb sounds like the best path.

As for the training, we're certainly working on it.  I think we'd be farther ahead if it weren't for a really bad experience at one training class (I blame the trainers, not my dog).  I have a private lesson scheduled for next week and then 6 more weeks of training classes.  Obviously we work on training every day, but it's not that easy to work on reactivity to other dogs, because I can't schedule other people's dogs to be around🙂

That's exactly why you want private lessons with a good trainer. Many of them will have a totally "bomb proof" dog of their own that can be used.

ETA: I'd get the trainer's advice on whether or not it's a good idea to do any more group classes right now. Depending on your dog's level of reactivity it may not be fair at all to the others in the class to have him attend and be at least a distraction and at worst a big risk.

Edited by Pawz4me
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1 hour ago, SKL said:

You guys have me wanting to talk everyone out of this trip.  And you're probably right.  Failing that, the airbnb sounds like the best path.

As for the training, we're certainly working on it.  I think we'd be farther ahead if it weren't for a really bad experience at one training class (I blame the trainers, not my dog).  I have a private lesson scheduled for next week and then 6 more weeks of training classes.  Obviously we work on training every day, but it's not that easy to work on reactivity to other dogs, because I can't schedule other people's dogs to be around.  🙂

Those of us who have breeds of this type (I have a Rottie-German Shepherd mix) have to work extra hard at socialization and training. Problems with dogs of this type can be serious and often end up with the dog paying with his life. My dog at three years old is only now being less reactive to other dogs in certain settings. (She’s always been fine unleashed at dog parks but if I have her on leash she is extra protective of me.). I am very careful about only putting her in situations where I can keep everyone safe and as you said, daily training. 

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Since he is 5 months, I assume he hasn’t had his rabies shot. I personally wouldn’t go anywhere without his rabies shot.  If he should bite someone, it could be a nightmare with rules/regulations in each state.  That said, I would either kennel him or do air b&b.  He is risk in the hotel.  What will you do with him at dinner? Most hotels won’t allow you to leave him alone in the room. 

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If you go ahead with it it may be worth talking to the vet about anti anxiety meds.  If he has stranger anxiety getting him familiar with the kennels people young might be helpful long-term, even if you just book him in for a weekend or two.  My stranger-anxious dog can only stay with certain family members and it’s a bit of a pest to be honest.

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29 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

It might vary by state, but here puppies get their rabies vaccine at 16 weeks.

It can.  We don’t recommend it until about 6 months here.  
 

Pawz-  out of curiosity, has your state seen the epidemic of people lately having their dogs diet vegan/vegetarian ( including raw veggie only diet)?  It is becoming a large problem here. 

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7 minutes ago, itsheresomewhere said:

 

Pawz-  out of curiosity, has your state seen the epidemic of people lately having their dogs diet vegan/vegetarian ( including raw veggie only diet)?  It is becoming a large problem here. 

Not that I know of. I'm sure some people do it, but I haven't heard about it being a widespread thing here. Thank goodness!

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1 hour ago, itsheresomewhere said:

Since he is 5 months, I assume he hasn’t had his rabies shot. I personally wouldn’t go anywhere without his rabies shot.  If he should bite someone, it could be a nightmare with rules/regulations in each state.  That said, I would either kennel him or do air b&b.  He is risk in the hotel.  What will you do with him at dinner? Most hotels won’t allow you to leave him alone in the room. 

Most kennels won’t take dogs who haven’t had rabies shots. Here rabies shots are recommended between 16 and 18 weeks. 

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We debated a lot about what to do with our dog when we were going on vacation.  We looked into airbnb but most of them that allowed dogs didn't have a fenced yard for them, and didn't allow you to leave your pet while you go somewhere.  A lot of the things we are looking at doing were not dog friendly. 

I looked into kennels and was not impressed with the options.  It bothered me that I would have to pay extra for him to get more outdoor time instead of just a few potty breaks each day.  I ended up finding a ranch for dogs that was a great fit.  It is a ranch/farm on several fenced acres.  The dogs are outside most of the day and they have a large into play area in case of in-climate weather. The owners post pictures daily of the dogs so you can see that your dog is having a great time.  You might look to see if there is something like this in your area, however, if your dog doesn't do well with other dogs it may not be a good fit.

As far as car sickness, I would try out any medication ahead of time.  We got some (expensive) medication from the vet and it didn't help at all.  Our dog is doing better with it now it just took time, open windows with fresh air, and being big enough to look out the front windows.  I still don't know that we would take him on a long trip.

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We have traveled a lot with our dog but he is not reactive around other dogs and doesn't get car sick.  He is timid, but not aggressive, with strangers.

I totally understand you wanting to bring your dog, but I agree those are super hard work arounds.  The hotels we stayed in had tons of dogs. It was quite common to come out of your room and encounter another dog in the hallway. That would be really hard if your dog was aggressive.  =( 

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5 minutes ago, cintinative said:

We have traveled a lot with our dog but he is not reactive around other dogs and doesn't get car sick.  He is timid, but not aggressive, with strangers.

I totally understand you wanting to bring your dog, but I agree those are super hard work arounds.  The hotels we stayed in had tons of dogs. It was quite common to come out of your room and encounter another dog in the hallway. That would be really hard if your dog was aggressive.  =( 

That was our experience bringing our older dog to a hotel too.   This was a Homewood Suites, and there were dogs all over in the hallways and at the breakfast and evening meals (this was before covid). 

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Our family is a German Shepherd family-- DH and I have had four GSDs and two 1/2 mixes (corgie-shepherd and lab-shepherd).  We love our large dogs-- current GSD is solid white and 140 pounds!

We have traveled with pups--staying at rental homes or our family cabin (not hotels).  We mapped out our routes with rest areas in mind-- stopping every 2 hours or so with pups under 1 year and at least every 3 hours with older dogs.

On one of our trips we found a day-kennel at our destination (with good reviews) and were able to have some no-dog time at the beach (we also had dog time a different day but that was a lot of work!).  Other times DH would take the pup and I would do something with the kids then we would switch...not as much fun but doable.

--

On a side note-- if your GSD is 5 months old already you are running out of time in the 'sweet spot' for socialization.  It is much easier to train a dog to be social when it is a pup!  We would invite our neighbors to come outside when we 'walked' our pup to get them used to other people.  We also had a trainer friend with a 'bomb proof' older dog -- being around her helped get our pup used to other dogs.  In short we had to actively plan activities for human/dog socialization as having a large breed dog is a big responsibility!  Most aggressive dogs (aggressive towards strangers/other dogs/animals) are good with their own family...

Our current GSD was a shy pup-- he did great with our family but did not like other people-- especially men (he LOVED teen girls though!).  It took a LOT of work to get him socialized where we could walk him and not be afraid of other people or other animals getting close to him.  He is 9 years old now and about as bomb-proof as they come.. We recently moved from the country into an urban neighborhood.  Our dog has easily made friends with our neighbors' dogs (mostly the mid- large breed ones with manners) and will ignore the small yappy dogs.  He is also comfortable meeting new neighbors (men, women and children).  He adores our 18 mo old grandson who lives with us...  He even gets along with the 2 cats our dd brought with her when she moved back home.   Awesome dog (and beautiful too!) but it was a LOT of work!!!

I hope you get to go on your trip--it can be a good experience if you plan ahead.

If you decide not to take him-- leaving him with your sister seems like a good choice if possible-- since she was his breeder she should understand GSDs and how to work with them.  Her dogs should also be social-- so they can help model that behavior to your pup.

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