Many dogs love to ride in the car. You see them often with their noses to the wind and a happy doggy grin on their face. So you know dogs can enjoy a car ride but perhaps you are not sure how to get your dog to enjoy it too. Or maybe your dog enjoys the car ride but misbehaves and causes dangerous distractions, making a trip to the vet or a family vacation difficult. So whether you have a puppy or an older dog, here are a few tips to help overcome or avoid those challenges.
How to Help Prevent Your Pet From Being Sick or Voiding in the Car If your dog has never been in the car or has problems with getting sick in the car, do not give them anything to eat for an hour or two before the ride. And don’t allow them to drink excessively. Allow your dog to take a potty break just before going for a ride. This may help prevent any accidents for those dogs who tend to get overly excited or frightened during the trip.
How to Keep Your Dog Still While in the Car It is recommended for any dog who rides in the car to be secured in some way. There are many great products out on the market made just for the safety of traveling pets including dog car seat belts, dog car safety seats, carriers, and auto barriers. Before taking your dog for a ride in the car, it is a good idea to get them used to the auto safety device you are going to use. Dog car seat belts can generally also be used as a harness for walking. Use the harness for this purpose as much as possible. You can even allow the dog to wear it around the house while under your supervision. If you are going to use a dog car safety seat, allow your pet to use it as a bed first. For dogs who are going to ride in a carrier, try crate training them first. Once the crate becomes a second home for your pet, putting them in the crate during a car ride will be much less stressful for them.
How to Get Your Dog Used to Riding in the Car Once your dog is used to the pet auto safety device, start taking them on short trips. Go someplace fun like the park or the pet store. By taking them somewhere they will enjoy, they will quickly learn to associate a car ride with these special places. You can also take your pet with you to visit a friend or even to a bank or fast-food drive-through. Never take your dog someplace where you will have to leave them unattended in the car. The inside of a car is not safe for a pet, even if it is not hot outside or the windows are rolled down. Not only are there dangers, but it could also cause your pet to get lonely, anxious, or nervous. If your dog already fears a car ride, leaving them alone in it is not going to help.
How to Soothe a Dog Who is Nervous While in the Car Give Them a Familiar Object If your dog tends to be nervous during a car ride, try bringing their favorite toy or blanket. A dog wearing a seat belt or in a carrier can still rest on their own bed. The familiarity of these items may help them deal with the unfamiliarity of the car. Talk to Your Dog Try talking to your dog in a soothing voice while you drive. This may help calm them. However, every dog is different. Some dogs may get more excited by the sound of your voice, in which case you should ignore them. Try both talking and silence to see which works best for your pet. Try not to scold your pet. Positive reinforcement is the best way to make a car ride enjoyable. Do not let your talking to the dog distract you from your driving. It is also recommended that you do not pet them while you drive. Not only can this distract you from the road, it may also encourage the dog to pester you for more attention. And no matter how tempting it might be, you should not allow your dog to ride in the front seat. Most cars are equipped with passenger-side airbags and airbags are not safe for dogs. Airbags are made for adult people, not children or pets. If you are able, have someone the dog knows and loves sit in the back seat next to or near your dog in order to provide extra comfort. Play Music Try playing the radio for your pet. Soothing music may have a calming effect on some pets. But most importantly, the sound of music will help cover the loud and unfamiliar sounds of the road. A passing semi, for example, may be a familiar sound to us, but the rumbling of these big trucks can be terrifying for a dog who has never heard them before. Open a Window Even if the loud sounds of the road are a problem for your pet, open one of the windows near them. This will provide a distraction of new and interesting smells for your dog. Most dogs seem to love this aspect of car rides. Your dog should not be able to stick their head out the window while using a restraint, but they should still be able to catch those exciting scents.
All in all, try to make the car ride as pleasant as possible. Make them comfortable and take them someplace they will enjoy. Play music and open a window to distract them from the scarier aspects of the road. And if possible, have someone sit in the back seat next to or near the dog so that they can provide extra comfort. Some dogs will take to the car right away while others will take more time and patience. Just keep working with them and the next time you plan a long road trip, you and your dog will be much more content.