Many of us enjoy taking our dogs with us when we travel, but for some dogs, car rides can be stressful. If your dog is anxious or scared when travelling, there are a few things you can do to help them feel more comfortable. With a little bit of patience and training, you can help your furry friend enjoy car rides more.
1. Introduce Your Dog to the Car In Easy Stages
If your dog has never been in a car before, it’s important to introduce them to the experience gradually. Start by simply sitting in the car with the engine off for short periods of time. Let them explore the vehicle and get comfortable with the new surroundings. Give them treats as a reward for settling. Once they seem relaxed on enough occasions, try taking short drives around the block. Build up to longer car trips over time so that your dog feels comfortable and safe.
As a dog owner, it’s important to have patience when you’re getting your dog used to travelling in the car. You may be sitting in the car with them many times before you’re able to move. Similarly, you may take the short trip around the block a few times before you can go further. It’s important your dog has positive experiences in the car rather than trying to tackle too much too soon.
2. Be Sure Your Pooch is Properly Restrained
For both your safety and your dog’s safety, it’s important to make sure they are securely restrained while travelling in the car. Dogs should always be secured in a harness or crate while riding in a car. This will help prevent them from being injured if you need to brake suddenly or if there’s an accident. It will also help keep them from becoming a distraction while you’re driving. It’s important for them to become familiar with whatever method you used to restrain them too, so introduce this while you’re not even moving.
3, Bring Favourite Toys Along for The Ride
Just like travelling with kids, a journey with your dog will be a better experience for everyone if you bring favourite toys along.
Dogs are comforted by familiar things, so bring along your dog’s favourite toys, blankets, and treats when you travel. This will help create a sense of normalcy for them and reduce stress levels.
In fact, dogs use their sense of smell to find comfort and reassurance. When a dog is feeling stressed or anxious, they will often seek out a familiar scent to calm down. This could be the scent of his owner, another dog, or even a favourite toy. The act of smelling something familiar has a calming effect on the dog’s nervous system – so it can be particularly useful if the car smells familiar to them.
4. Keep Calm!
A dog’s sense of smell is so powerful that they can also smell when you’re scared and will pick up on the fear themselves. Getting your dog used to travelling in the car can be a stressful experience, but it’s important to stay calm during the process. Dogs are very attuned to their owner’s emotions, and if you’re feeling anxious, your dog is likely to pick up on that and become stressed as well. With a little patience, you’ll soon be able to successfully take your dog on all the adventures you’ve been dreaming of.
5. Decide on the Best Time to Feed
Many dogs get car sick, so you will have to figure out what’s best for your dog. You may try to feed them a light meal before setting out on your trip. This can help to settle their stomach and reduce nausea. Some people give dogs a small amount of ginger, such as a ginger biscuit, which can help to alleviate motion sickness. But others find this makes it worse.
You will have to work out what makes your dog feel comfortable. If possible, open the windows or turn on the air conditioning to help keep the air circulating.
6. Plan for Poop Stops
Just like you and your human passengers., on long journeys your pooch needs comfort breaks too.
On long journeys plan to stop every 2 hours or so if you can. Think about where you are stipping. Places that might be fine for humans to grab a coffee and visit the bathroom might not offer the space your dog needs to stretch her legs and do her business.
A bit of research and forward planning will pay off: look for places where there will be some grass for your dog to spend 5 minutes on. And always remember to offer water when you take a break.
7. Happy Endings
Ending your car trips with a walk is something all dogs will appreciate. Your dog will soon learn that a trip in the car ends with fun. This is going to make even the most nervous canine traveller slowly come to be more comfortable with the whole experience.
Travelling with dogs can a lot like travelling with children: if you get off to a bad start it’s no fun for anyone.
But with a little thought and forward planning, you and your pooch can look forward to many happy road trips together.