I will tell you a story about my personal dog and the dilemma I’m in now.
Yes, dog trainers and their dogs are not perfect. It’s a longer story but if you read to the end, you will understand.
If you know me and my older dog Durian, you know that we are two peas in a pot. Where I go, she goes. If I travel, I only travel somewhere I can drive so I can bring my dogs. Ever since I acquired my first own dog, this is what I have done. I wouldn’t do any overnight trips where I couldn’t bring my dogs.
One reason for this is, that I simply and truly like to have my dogs around. I feel incomplete without my dogs. Another reason is, that I have a really hard time trusting anybody with my dogs. I remember of 2 single nights when Durian was under 6 months old, that I had left her over night with a friend and picked her up the next morning. I hated it, I hated to have to do that and was always worried so bad that something will happen and I’m not there. My friend was a wonderful care take for my pup but I admit it, I’m a control freak and I would have a really hard time forgiving anybody if something happens to my dog if in their care. Even if it was an accident.
Durian is now almost 9 years old and has since never ever again spent a night without me. She has always been a great travel companion and I never felt I missed out on something if I would decline a trip because I couldn’t bring her (or now Taz as well). For me, all I want is to have my dogs around and I’m a pretty happy girl.
Now there comes the dilemma! I had recently brought my dogs on a trip to California to the conference of the International Association Of Canine Professionals. It was a total of 7 days of driving down and back up and 4 days in a hotel. It wasn’t a relaxing trip where we would stop and spend a few days here and there so everybody can enjoy it. I came to realized that travelling such long trips are becoming stressful for Durian at her age and that, if I ever wanted to do a trip like this again, if would not be fair to ask Durian to endure this with me just because I want her around me.
Well guess what, I would like to do a similar trip again this fall to further my education but it is clear to me that I can not take Durian if I want it to be in her best interest.
So now what? Do I just not go? That would be an easy solution, right? Well you know, I have to start telling myself that it IS in fact okay to sometimes not bring my dogs and that I will be okay (although I’m not always believing myself LOL)
So I technically next Fall could just (by that time Durian will be 9.5 years old) leave Durian with a friend for 5-7 nights and then come back. But could you imagine how stressful THIS could be for Durian? She is not used to me being away, especially so many days. She might not understand why I’m not coming back for so many nights which could cause serious stress to her, especially at her age.
So now I’m faced with slowly introducing her to the fact of sometimes spending a couple nights away so that when Fall comes she’s not going to be too worried.
Is it doable? Absolutely! Could I have handled this better? Yes! I could have simply let go of my control and trust issues during all these years and allow Durian to sometimes detach from me. This is incredibly hard for me to do but it has to be done for the best for either of us.
When I got Taz, my second dog, I swore from the very beginning that I will not make that same mistake. He has already spent more nights away from me (well it was only 1 time but it was for 4 nights) than Durian in her whole life. And he will join Durian for a few over nights at a friend’s until Fall as well.
I want Taz to be independent and I don’t want him to have to worry if all of a sudden I don’t come home one night for whatever reason.
The point is, your dog should have occasional sleep overs with your trusted family members or friends or at a boarding kennel, which ever you prefer or chose. Sometimes one night, sometimes multiple nights. Start them young.
Not only because you might want to travel, because if you are like me, you love having your dog with you. The thing is, life happens. You might get in an accident and spend a couple nights or maybe a couple weeks at the hospital. Then what? What if you have an older dog like me, that never has been away? Your 10 year old dog doesn’t know that you are at the hospital getting better. He might fall into a depression because he might think you are GONE!
Sleep overs are healthy for your dog. Healthy for their confidence, their independence and their trust in you and other people. And you know what? They might even have fun!
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna with result based dog training. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of as many dogs (and their owners) as possible. Your dog is my priority and I’m as committed to your dog as you are. But I can only help those who sincerely want to help their dogs and not only themselves.”