It’s not easy to keep your fluffy friend calm in a traveling car, some dogs have a big fear of transport and still others suffer from travel sickness. Whether it’s the first time you take a nervous dog on a short trip, or you need to take your dog on a long road trip, there are steps you can take to make your dog’s trip easier and the experience more pleasurable for both of you. It’s worth taking the time to train your puppy to love the car. Read on for some tricks and tips to help with making your dog’s journey.
1. Place a familiar bed or blanket in the car
Put a familiar smelling blanket, bed, or piece of clothing in the car, this will help your dog relax in the new environment. It should be used by the dog regularly, so its smells will be familiar to the dog.
2. Get your dog used to a stationary car
Start with the car parked and with the engine off. Open a door and encourage your dog to jump into the stationary car. Give your dog some positive attentions, for example an extra tasty treat, or your dog’s favorite toys. You could feed your dog meals in the stationary car, and then let the dog come out and do something pleasure, just like take the pup for a walk.
3. Talk to your dog to reassure it
Talk to your dog calmly and tell it how good it is being, do not show panic or annoyance if it is doing something you don’t want it to do.
3. Secured within the car
The law states that dogs must be under control and secured in any car. You could use a harness that attaches to a seat belt, a crate, or a dog guard. Work out what works best for your pup, we suggest trying a travel pod for small dogs, harness for medium dogs, and crate for large dogs.
Many dog harnesses are designed to double up as a seat belt harness. You can start walking your dog with the harness so that he is accustomed to the feel of it. If your dog doesn’t mind the feel of the harness, he should more easily accept being attached to the seat belt.
You could let your dog trying crates or carriers in the house, if he gets used to resting in them, he will like it. Don’t lock your dog into a crate, it is not a prison. If the dog feels happy in his crate, your journey will run all the more smoothly.
If you are using a dog guard, put a blanket or bed in the back so that your dog feels comfortable. Ensure that the guard is fitted properly and will not collapse if your dog pushes against it.
4. Prevent car sickness
Some dogs suffer from motion sickness, so you need to prepare some travel sickness pills or a calming scent before any journey. Both can be purchased at pet shops or at vets. Human anti-motion sickness medications are not approved for use in dogs. The best medication for motion sickness is a prescription drug called Cerenia, which is available as an injection or tablet.
The most obvious sign of motion sickness is heavy drooling. Strings of saliva hanging from the dog’s lips is a sure sign of motion sickness. All dogs react differently but some hang their heads and look troubled, others may try to pace, and some will whimper.
Don’t over heat the car or smoke during the journey, consider using pheromones in the car, such as an Adaptil collar on the dog. This gives off hormones that reassure the dog and reduce anxiety, and may well help with his distress at being in a vehicle.
5. Check your supplies for the journey
Take a bag of supplies with you, it should include treats for rewards, drugs for motion sickness, a good strong leash, fresh cool water and a bowl to drink from, a toy or two, and plenty of cleaning up materials, such as cloths, spray cleaner, poop baggies etc.
6. Start with short journeys
Now you can start by making very short journeys. Praise your dog during the ride if he is being quiet. If he shows signs of anxiety, speak to him in a reassuring voice. At the end of the car journey, give your dog a treat or take him for a run.
Initially, starting the engine, letting it run, then turning it off. Then try backing out of the driveway, and straight back in.
Watch your dog for signs of distress or nausea. If this happens, stop the car, take the dog out and let it walk around for a bit to give it relief. Complete the journey and next time don’t go so far.
7. Avoid giving your dog too much food
A good compromise is to feed the dog 3-4 hours prior to travel. If your trip is short, you can wait to feed your dog when you get to your destination. Your dog may feel sick even if its stomach is very empty, so do not have him too hungry.
8. Be aware of your dog whilst travelling
Stay aware of your dog, a dog who is thirsty, too hot or desperately needs the loo on a journey will start associating the car with bad things. If your dog becomes overexcited, back up a little or drive straight back home until he approaches car journeys calmly. If your dog barks in the car, take him out for a walk or run so that he is more likely to doze during the car journey.
9. Give your dog enough opportunity for breaks
Have a look at your route and plan in some stops to allow your dog to stretch his legs, have a drink and a toilet break. Try to stop every hour, if the journey is over 4 hours long, give your dog a good walk of twenty minutes or more.