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Puppy Training Setbacks after Vacation

by Heidi Atwood

Vacations are great! I recently took a week off and traveled for the first time in many years, and it was wonderful! It was also wonderful to return to my home, routines, awesome dogs, and a normal schedule. I made some memories and recharged my soul, but I was more than happy to return to my “same-old, same-old” life. 

When we change our schedules and routines a bit, our puppies are also going through these changes. Whether we take them with us, board them at a facility, or have a trusted friend or family member care for them, it is a transition, and getting back to “normal” is another transition. It's important to remember that it's completely normal for your pup to have some difficulties getting back into normal routines and habits. If they don’t have any issues when you get back home, then great! However, there can be small setbacks in sleep patterns, potty habits, and behaviors because of the change in environment, different caretakers, and interactions with other animals. It’s possible that they may have picked up some unwanted habits while you were away as well. 

If you are boarding your pup, make sure you visit the facility ahead of time to do some short and positive visits, meet the staff, and help your puppy see this as a positive place. Be sure the boarding facility will keep your dog on a schedule that allows plenty of downtime and rest. If you have someone coming to your home, make sure they know the basic schedule and routines of your puppy’s day, the cues you use, expected behaviors and so on. Of course, it would be best to have them spend time with your puppy ahead of time as well. Neither of these scenarios will be exactly the same as your own routines with your puppy, but you can try to keep our puppies’ lives as normal as possible.  

If you take your pup on vacation with you, you will also want to try to keep their basic routines as normal as possible with roughly the same feeding, exercise, and sleep schedule that they are used to. Bring along favorite toys, bedding, rewards, and their crate. Nighttime sleeping will be different in a new environment with sounds, smells and even temperatures that are not the same as at home. You may need to cover the crate or play some music or white noise near it to help your puppy sleep, and even put the crate close to you at night, just like you might have done when your puppy was very young and transitioning to your home.   

We want to get our puppies right back on track after an exciting trip or some time without you. You may need to limit your puppy’s freedom a bit more when you return home or even take them out for more frequent potty breaks as they get reacclimated to their potty area and their ways of indicating their potty needs. Taking a step back is helpful, and this doesn’t necessarily mean starting over. It means that we go back to preventing unwanted behaviors and reminding our puppies that good behaviors are best. Recognize that you are taking a temporary step back in order to move forward again. Of course, if you are baffled and don’t know what to do to get back to normal, reach out to our team for guidance! 

Don’t feel guilty if you leave your puppy for a few days. Sometimes, we just need a break, the opportunity to recharge ourselves, and then get excited about getting right back into the training and normal activities we have been working on. It can be a good experience for your puppy to learn to adjust to changes in environment and to learn about spending time away from their people.

 Happy traveling, with or without your pup! 

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Unknown member
Jun 20

Great advice - thank you.


It was the perfect time for me to see this post as we just returned from vacation and we definitely need to take a few steps back to reset!

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