Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Preparing Your Dog for Life at Sea

Can't bear to leave your furry friend on land? Me neither! For those who are interested in traveling with your dog, here is what I did in preparation for take off. I took Dexter to the vet to make sure he was up to date with all his vaccines, to ask questions of what to do if he gets sick or hurts himself and to get the form from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency filled out which you need in crossing the united states (and then go back to the CFIA to get them to approve and stamp it).Turns out you can use the same medication you use yourself for your dogs (such as gravol if their seasick, Benadryl for swelling or bee stings etc) you just have to look up what dosage to give them based on their weight. Basically a humans first aid kit can be used as an animal first aid kit as well. Another thing I did was have 2 private dog training sessions on the boat. Dexter has never done any actual training, I taught him the basics or sit, down and Bang! (which is where I shoot him and he rolls over dead-really useful, I know). He's a really easy dog so I never needed to do obedience classes with him, but I thought it would be important to make sure he didn't jump off the boat since he's tried it before. A dog trainer by the name of Josh Taylor met us on the boat and was amazing, I really recommend him to anyone in Montreal. Dexter trained so fast, I was amazed. He now goes up and down the steep stairs in and out of the cabin. He heels and walks right beside me and stops the second I do. And he will sit and stay, even when I've gotten off the boat and am out of sight. We're still working on "come" though...

Dexter obviously didn't know that he was about to move onto a boat, but he could definitely tell that something was up. He had a jam packed week of going to the vet, one training session, the next day going to the groomers for the first time (apparently dogs need their anal glands emptied once in a while or they could explode or something, I was much happier paying someone else to do it than attempting it myself) and then another training session. Then i moved my stuff out of my room in my apartment and my roommate moved his stuff into my room, which really confused Dexter. He was probably thinking something along the lines of "this is Mom's room, but it looks different now, now it smells like Shireef, but it still kinda smells like Mom, wtf?!". But now things have settled and we're both on the boat together. About swimming: Dexter is not yet a lover of  water, we tried swimming with him in the lake with his life jacket on and all he wanted to do was get out, but he seemed capable. I'm hoping that with more practice he'll become a stronger swimmer, and as we get to hotter places he'll enjoy cooling off in the water.

Advice from the trainer: his life jacket can act as an anxiety vest and if he gets anxious at any point, for example when the engine turns on, you should have the vest on before the stressful thing begins otherwise it won't have the same effect. How to know if your dog is happy: they just want to be with you, as long as you're with them and you're happy, they will be too. Dogs are similar to children, they look to you to react when something happens, if he falls down the stairs, I shouldn't get upset or coddle him, just act like everything's fine and he'll walk it off. If the weather is rough and I freak out and get stressed-so will he. Assert your authority: do not let him jump on my lap whenever he wants, you need to invite him up. 


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