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How to train a dog to use a transportation bag

Bichon frise dog in a transportation bag advice

Tips to get your dog to like his transportation bag

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More people than ever are taking their pets on holiday. In fact, dog-friendly hotels and vacation spots are popping up all over the place to cater for the modern dog owner.

By Ashley Murphy

But there's one problem, we've got to get there first! So what do you do if your dog isn't the biggest travel fan? Well, here's a complete guide to canine travel and some tips on training a dog with a transportation bag.

Why it's important to have a transportation bag for your dog

Transportation bags keep pooches and people safe. And, if you want to take them abroad by plane or ferry, you won't be able to travel unless they're secured in a carrier. Even if the airline allows dogs into the cabin, you'll still need to keep them in a transportation bag. This prevents any potential disruption to the flight but also ensures a comfortable journey for other passengers.

They're also a good option if your dog tends to get over excited or nervous while travelling by car or public transport. With the right training, dogs see their carriers as a safe space. They're also ideal for transporting sick dogs, older pooches, and puppies.

How can I teach my little dog to like his carrier? 

First of all, make sure you get the right-sized carrier. It needs to be long enough for your dog to turn around in and tall enough so they can stand up comfortably.

Start training a few weeks before the travel date. The more effort you put in, the easier the journey will become for you and your pooch.

Start by introducing your dog to the carrier. Put it down by their bed, food bowl, or snuggle spot, and let them investigate it in their own time. It's also a good idea to use your good-boy or good-girl voice when they give it a little sniff. This builds up positive associations.

Now it's time to pull out every dog trainers secret weapon - treats! Use a few to coax your pooch into the carrier. Even if they only spend a few seconds inside, it's a good start.

Once they feel comfortable, put them in the carrier for 5 minutes at first, making sure you stay by the carrier. Over the next few days, increase the time to 10 then 15 minutes. Again, stay with them. Then start the whole cycle over again. Only this time, see how they get on alone.

Come up with a command word, something like "into your carrier." Then show your dog a treat, say the command word, and put the treat into the carrier. Eventually, your dog will associate the command word with the carrier. Always use the same command word - switching up will confuse the dog.

What is the best soft dog carrier for travel? 

If you're looking for a soft-sided pet carrier, try the EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate. It's spacious, super comfy, and folds down for extra convenience. The three-door mesh structure lets in plenty of light and fresh air and comes with a free fleece bed lining!

Anyone looking for a quality budget option should go for the AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier. The soft-sided bag combines comfort and functionality and is excellent value for money at around £20.00.

What are some tips on travelling with pets? 

Here are a few handy tips for travelling with a dog:

  • Take them for a long walk and then give them a good feed before you set off. A tired dog with a full belly is usually a well-behaved dog!
  • If your pooch gets nervous, try some specially designed dog calming products. Stick to those that contain 100% natural ingredients.
  • Speak to your vet. They may be able to prescribe a sedative.
  • Try familiarisation techniques. Go on short drives a few times a week, gradually increasing the distance as your pup starts to feel more comfortable.

Dog training requires time, patience, and lots of practice. As always, the earlier you start, the easier it will be. Most old dogs can pick up a few new tricks; it just takes them a little bit longer! So even if you haven't got any trips planned, start familiarising your puppy with being in a car or a travel bag when they get to around six-weeks olds. Do that, and you'll never have to go anywhere without them ever again!