Tackling Your Dog's Car Anxiety
Posted by Kaitlyn Manktelow on 08/11/2017
Your dog is your best friend, which means you want to bring him/her with you everywhere. But do you have one of those dogs that just doesn’t travel well in the car? Car sickness, excessive slobbering, barking or whining are common signs that your dog suffers from travel anxiety. Don’t worry, there are many solutions to helping your dog get over his anxiety and make him your best road trip pal.
Make the Car an Exciting Experience
For dogs that aren't used to riding in a car, the motion and vibrations can cause them to be fearful of traveling. To help familiarize your pup, always lure your dog into the car, never force. Your first goal should be getting your dog into the car easily. Use a reward like a favorite toy or a treat, if your dog is very food driven. Don’t drive anywhere yet, just practice getting in the car with an exciting reward.
Once your dog proactively jumps into the car, now try some short trips. Make those first short trips only related to very positive experiences like going to the park or a dog-friendly beach. Eventually your dog will start to see riding in the car as something to enjoy, not fear.
A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog
Give your dog plenty of exercise before even getting in the car. A run or a long walk can get rid of extra energy, meaning your dog will be more tired and calm in the car. If you are planning to do this, bring water to keep your dog hydrated while in the car. Consistently tire your dog out each time before a car ride until they grow used to the car.
Added Pressure Can Be Soothing
The car itself can be very intimidating, but that might not be the only reason for your dog’s anxiety. For some pups, unfortunate and traumatic incidents can trigger negative feelings and memories. If your dog was involved in a car accident, hit by a car, abandoned at a shelter or had a bad experience at the vet; riding in a car can trigger unhappy memories or feelings for your pup.
One solution for these anxious canines is using pressure to soothe and calm your dog. This can be an over the counter prescription like a Thunder Shirt or even just using a Dog Car Harness. The Harness will add pressure soothing your dog while keeping them safe and securely strapped in. All sized dogs should always use a crash-tested harness while in the car, but smaller dogs may also additionally benefit from enclosed spaces. Using a pet carrier or dog booster seat can also give your pup an extra sense of security while travelling.
If you think an over the counter prescriptions might help your dog more; some vets recommend trying Zylkene and Composure. Check with your vet first before using any medications.
Make Your Pup Feel at Home in the Car
Dogs, like humans, can have comfort items that make them feel more at home and help get rid of uneasiness they may be feeling. To make your pup feel more at home in your car, bring some of these comfort items. These may include, a dog bed, some favorite toys and a favorite treat. Remember your dog is most likely scared of the car, so you want them to be as comfortable in it as possible.
Did you know simply changing the conditions of your car could help ease your pup’s anxiety? Cracking open some windows to give your furry best friend a breath of fresh air and using soothing music such as, classical music can alleviate some of their stress.
Dealing With Canine Motion Sickness
For some unlucky pups, another symptom of their travel anxiety can be car sickness. There are different prescription medicines that can work for this issue, however it varies from dog to dog. This is why it is very important to talk with your Vet on which method might work best for your canine.
Messes are an unfortunate reality of car sickness. However, this doesn’t mean that you should have to pay for your car to be professionally cleaned each time an accident happens. Using a car seat cover can help protect you from expensive cleanings or stains. An added benefit is many dogs find comfort in the materials from these products, allowing them to be even more calm.
Traveling with dogs may seem stressful, but it doesn't have to be! Check out these tips on pet travel safety and this video on traveling with dogs.