Ask Kathy About Training Dogs To Love Their Totes...

By Kathy Santo | Updated: April 30 2019

Student’s Question:

“I want my new Yorkie puppy to be able to travel with me everywhere I go, but, when I put her in her new bag, she barked the whole time we were out. How can I get her to love her bag?”

Kathy’s Answer:

This is a classic example of “All dogs love their travel bags – unless they don’t”. Here’s my tried and true “T.R.I.P.” method for training dogs how to happily travel in their bag:

  • Teach them to love their bag! Make sure lots of cool toys and snacks appear randomly in it – initially, keep it will on the floor so they can hop in and out of it at will.
  • Recreation inside the bag is key! New toys that the dog has never played with before will make the dog look forward to going into his bag.
  • Introduce them to travel with short trips (ex: kitchen to the living room)
  • “Please Release Me!” Dogs shouldn’t live in their bags. Especially in the beginning, give them frequent opportunities to get out and walk around. They’ll like the bag more when they realize it isn’t a prison.

Give a consistent command, such as  “Get in your bag!” or “Hop In!” whenever placing a dog inside. Eventually, your dog will happily jump into the bag whenever she hears the command.  In the case of a dog who jumps in the bag but keeps their head poking out, gently press on their head and tell them “Head Down” as you zipper it closed. Be careful! Catching your dog’s fur in the zipper can set your training back.

Interior decorating – mats, blankets, etc. – should reflect the climate. No matter how much you love the idea of a faux mink blanket, your dog will be miserable with that in her bag while she’s being carried around South Beach in August! Dogs overheat quickly, and can die from heatstroke, so be extra alert to high temperatures in warm climates and especially during the summer.  As a reminder, bags should be securely belted into your vehicle (back seat, away from the airbags), so that they don’t become projectiles in the event of an accident.

With some training and pre-planning, at the very least, your dog should at least be comfortable enough to tolerate the trip quietly, and hopefully, happily.

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

In Waldwick, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.


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