Most dogs love car rides, especially when it ends with a visit to the park. These are the dogs you see cruising with their owners down the street with their heads poking out the windows. Some have even learned to open and close the windows themselves, forcing their owners to apply locks to keep them safe. Then, there are other dogs in Saugus who tremble at the thought of getting into the car.
Small dogs seem especially susceptible to travel anxiety compared to their larger colleagues. Some hide under the seat or get motion sickness. Others might insist on getting into your lap while you drive. This not only introduces distractions while you’re driving, but they may also get down on the floor and make it impossible for you to operate the brake, gas, or clutch pedals.
So, what can you do when dogs hate car rides? How can you keep both you and them safe?
1. Start Early
The American Kennel Club acknowledges that it is easier to teach a dog to travel well when you’ve had them from puppyhood. If you adopt a young pup, start them off as soon as possible. Take them to the pet store when picking up their kibbles and plan frequent trips to the park. As they grow older, car rides become just another part of their weekly routine. Note that puppies tend to be more susceptible to motion sickness, but they do grow out of this over time.
2. Take Practice Trips
Even if your dog is older, all is not lost. Practice makes perfect —most times. PetMD recommends taking short trips in the car before planning any longer ones. These trips are about more than just getting your pooch used to the ride though. You should also make some observations and experiment with a few setups. Does Fido like looking out the window or hiding under the seat? Will he take well to the carrier or will you need to start off with a harness strap-in? Learning his preferences helps you to fine-tune his travel experience for longer trips.
3. Add Perks
To fear the car less, your dog must have a reason to like it. Some dog parents have enormous backyards and only need to bring Fido in the car when going to the vet or groomer. This causes their dogs to associate the car with an uncomfortable experience. Add more favorable reasons for car rides and include a few perks. Bring treats and a special toy. Throw in a destination he’ll actually love, like a hiking trail. If someone else is riding in the backseat, they can also play games with your pooch to keep him entertained.
4. Use Carriers
Some dogs in Saugus have such excellent road manners that they have free roam of the vehicle while traveling. However, if you make a sudden stop or end up in an accident, Fido could go flying through the windshield. This is why so many fur parents now strap dogs in via a harness. An even better solution is to use carriers. PetMD recommends a carrier that is large enough for your dog to lie down and stretch out to increase their comfort. Adding toys and treats to the carrier and leaving it about the house long before trips help to teach dogs that it’s not such a scary place after all.
5. Address Motion Sickness
There are some older dogs that never quite get used to being in a moving vehicle. This is especially true if they missed the opportunity to ride in the car with humans when they were puppies. The AKC provides the following tips to make traveling easier for them:
- Ask your vet about any recommended medicines.
- Give him plenty of exercise for 20 or so minutes before the trip.
- Reduce food and water intake before starting the trip.
- Use special dog pheromones in the car.
- Let fresh air in through the windows.
- Keep the car cool.
6. Plan Potty Breaks
Many people who drive for long hours are so used to it that they never stop. They can do a full 16 hours or more without much more than stopping for gas. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s very uncomfortable for Fido. Even if he loves car rides, he won’t appreciate being cooped up in such a small space and getting no bathroom breaks. When you stop for gas, take him for a quick walk to stretch his legs, work off some pent-up energy, and use his outdoor restroom. Remember to bring doggie bags to pick up after him and always keep him on a leash.
In the Meantime …
Helping your dog to overcome his travel anxiety won’t happen overnight. It might be weeks or even months before you can take him on a trip without feeling absolutely guilty for his suffering. Until then, you may have no choice but to leave him at home.
The good news is that there are pet sitters in Massachusetts that will not only keep an eye on him and your home, but we’ll also bring in your mail and take him for a walk. For more information about our services at Dog Gon Good Time feel free to give us a call at 781-780-4985.