On the Road – Traveling with a Border Collie

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Border Collies" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: David Anderson

Once you have your Border Collie, you’ll want to take her everywhere and show her off to the world! However, it can be difficult to take your Border Collie everywhere you go. Some dogs love going on rides, while others get nervous in the car. And once you get to your destination, you’ll have to worry about what to do with your energetic and curious dog in an unfamiliar place. As with anything regarding your Border Collie, you’ll want to prepare to make your journey as smooth as possible.

Crates and Restraints

Border Collie hillIf your Border Collie is crate trained, then car rides just got easier. Simply pack your dog in his crate with a comfy blanket and a toy, secure the crate in your car, and you’re good to go. A crate is a safe way to transport your dog because he won’t be distracting you while you’re driving and will be restrained in case of an accident. If you’ve successfully crate trained your dog, he most likely feels safe and secure inside the crate and is less likely to get nervous on long rides.

If you choose not to crate your Border Collie, a safety restraint is necessary. There are different variations of doggy seatbelts available in stores, so simply pick one that works best for your dog. These devices often clip into your existing seatbelts and keep your dog in place. When using restraints that clip into a collar or harness, choose a harness that will not choke your dog in case of an accident. Most importantly, you want to keep them from flying out of the car, but it’s also vital to minimize any other injuries in case of a crash.

Preparing for Car Rides

Border Collie in carWith any luck, your dog will be more than happy to jump in the car and go on a ride. For some dogs, a car ride is a strange and scary experience. Plus, if your dog has been on a ride to somewhere scary like the vet, he might associate the ride with the scary destination. Ideally, you’ll want to get to the point where your dog is calm and happy in your car. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress when you need to take your dog somewhere. To train your Border Collie to enjoy car rides, start slow, be patient, and give lots of treats.

To start, let your dog sniff around your car. Border Collies are inquisitive dogs, so they’ll want to check out a new object before it’s forced upon them. Open the door and let them peek inside. Then, try tossing a treat inside the back seat and see if they’ll go after it. If not, you might want to try lifting them into the car, then giving a treat once they are still.

Once your dog is comfortable with the concept of a car, it’s time to get moving. Start with a short drive around the block. If your dog is calm, give him praise and rewards. Talk to your dog in soft, calming tones. As your dog becomes more comfortable, increase the distance you drive.

If your dog is extremely nervous and there’s nothing you can do to calm them down, talk to a vet. It’s not good to give your dog sedatives on a regular basis, but medication for a rare car ride might help your dog. Similarly, if your dog gets car sick, see if your vet can provide you with medicine to help your dog’s nausea.

Flying and Hotel Stays

While you might want to bring your Border Collie wherever you go, seriously consider the importance of their presence when air travel is required. Border Collies are big dogs, and many airlines will not allow them in the cabin. Instead, they will travel in the cargo area, which can be terrifying for a dog. Sensitive dogs, like Border Collies, will get scared of the loud noises, strange people tossing their crate around, and weird sensations. Changes in temperature and air pressure can occur, and both can be detrimental to your dog’s health.

Border Collie travelIf you’ve ever worried about the airline losing your checked luggage, just imagine what would happen if your dog became lost. Also, it’s an unfortunate reality that some dogs suffer from health problems due to the flight and don’t survive the journey. Even in the cabin, a flight can be terrifying to a sensitive dog. Before you fly with your Border Collie, think about all the options. Unfortunately, air travel does not always accommodate our furry friends. But if you are left with no option other than to fly, make sure your dog has food and water in his crate, your contact information is both on the dog and on the crate, and you have the right airline contact information in case your dog is lost.

Once you get to your destination, you’ll probably be staying in an unfamiliar place. Some dogs will enjoy the opportunity to sniff out the new smells, but some will find it hard to relax. Try bringing familiar blankets and toys to keep your dog occupied and comfortable. If you must leave your dog alone in a hotel room, try to make your time away as short as possible. You don’t want your dog to think you’ve abandoned her in a strange place or you’ll come back to a destroyed hotel room. Also, if your dog is crate trained, you might keep her in her crate for short periods of time while you’re away just so she feels safe. When you return, go on a long walk or visit a dog park to burn the excess energy. Otherwise, you may receive complaints about a restless dog wreaking havoc in a hotel room.

Kennels and Dog Sitters

Border Collie going down from carKennels and dog sitters are good options when you’re going out of town for a while and don’t want to stress your dog out with a trip. If you know your dog well, you can probably already figure out what the best option for your dog will be. While prices may vary, you know what will create the least amount of stress in your unique dog.

Kennels and doggy hotels are generally safe places for dogs to hang out while their owners are away. These businesses give your dog their own individual space while also allowing them to socialize with other dogs. This may be the best option if your dog loves to play with other dogs and isn’t bothered by extra noise. This may not be an option at all if your dog is not well-socialized with other dogs and has noise phobias. The constant barking might scare your pooch, and without you to rescue him, the other dogs might push him around too much for his liking.

But if your dog loves to play with others, this can be a good way for your dog to get the exercise and attention he needs. Your dog will be so busy playing with others that he’ll forget you ever left.

Dog boarders vary from place to place, so it’s necessary to make sure you have a good one before sending your dog there for an extended period of time. Meet with an employee and take a tour of the facilities. Is the building clean? Is there plenty of space for your dog to hang out? Are the employees attentive and friendly? A good kennel will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Border Collie farm
Photo Courtesy – Elizabeth Windle

Another benefit of taking your dog to a kennel is that there is always someone there to keep an eye on your dog. You don’t need to worry about if your dog is bored, destroying your property, or crying to go to the bathroom. You don’t need to worry about your dog being outside in inclement weather or stuck inside all day. And, if you’ve found a really great kennel, you’ll know your dog is having a good time and getting all of the attention they need.

Before you drop your dog off, ask if you can bring your pooch around to sniff the place out. With you by their side, they’ll feel safe while they acclimate to all of the new sounds and smells. That way, they won’t be in a panic when you drop them off at the beginning of a long stay.

But kennels are not the best option for all dogs. Dogs that don’t get along with others and dogs with a lot of fears may not do well in a kennel. If this describes your Border Collie, you’ll want to find a dog sitter for the duration of your trip. This is a person you hire to stop by a few times during the day to check in on your dog. This job often falls on a neighbor, relative, or friend, but there are also professional dog sitters out there who make a living watching other people’s pets.

Perhaps the most important thing you need in a dog sitter is someone who has experience with Border Collies. As you’ve probably discovered, Border Collies are unique dogs that have special requirements. They can go from lounging around to sprinting laps around the yard in an instant. A quick visit to let your dog out a few times a day won’t be enough interaction for him.

If your dog is attention-hungry, you might try to work out an arrangement where your dog stays with the sitter. This way, he’s more likely to get the cuddles he needs to be happy. However, if your dog gets nervous in new places, you might want the sitter to come to your dog. If this is the case, you might want to hire a dog walker in addition to the person checking in on your dog.

When deciding what to do with your Border Collie while you’re away, keep your dog’s personality in mind. Once you’ve made your decision, let your dog visit the place they’ll be staying and the people they’ll be interacting with. Do this before you leave so you’re not springing any surprises on your smart dog.

Tips for Traveling with Border Collies

If you decide to bring your Border Collie along with you on your travels, there are a few things that can make your time easier, whether you’re going across the country or just across town.

Border Collie riding
Photo Courtesy -Phil Leicht

When driving long distances, stop frequently to give your dog time to stretch his legs. Rest stops may work for some dogs, but keep in mind that if your Border Collie is a car chaser, the sight of cars zooming along the interstate may be a distraction. If you get the chance, try pulling into a town with a dog park along the way to give your dog some exercise. This way, your dog will be more likely to sleep the rest of the trip and have less anxious energy.

If you make yourself a packing checklist, make one for your dog to make sure you’re not turning around to get something you forgot. It helps to have a designated bag or basket for your Border Collie’s travel essentials. Dishes, food, treats, collars and leashes, and an assortment of toys are all necessary items for a short trip. You might also want to keep a supply of water in your car just in case you don’t have a place to fill a dish along the way.

While your dog should have identification on his body at all times, it’s especially crucial when you’re far from home. It’s not always logical, but when dogs get scared, they often run as far away as possible. It doesn’t take much for a sensitive Border Collie to get startled or engaged in a chase. If your dog gets lost, it may be the only thing that will help reunite you.

Finally, remember to give your dog a little more exercise than usual while you’re traveling, if possible. A tired dog will be much easier to manage than an energetic or anxious Border Collie. You may have to make some extra stops or additional accommodations to make it happen, but it will be extremely helpful to have your Border Collie on her best behavior.

Traveling with your Border Collie doesn’t have to be stressful. Prepare your dog for any new experiences, plan ahead, and keep your dog active for best results. It may take time before you’re ready to travel with your Border Collie (or leave him behind), but with careful preparation, everyone will be at ease by the time your trip rolls around.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Border Collies" by David Anderson, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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