A road trip becomes more fun with your beloved pup around.
However, it can be quite an ordeal if your dog tends to get anxious in cars. If this is the case, you need to figure out why your dog has car anxiety prior to your trip.
What causes dog anxiety?
In most cases, your dog’s anxiety may be more about the destination and less about the car itself specifically when you’re always heading to the vet or the groomer’s whenever you head out. It may also be due to motion sickness or the sound that your car makes when you drive over raised strips.
To make the journey pleasant for both you and your dog, below are tips that will help you keep your pooch calm throughout the entire trip.
1. Provide comfort
As much as possible, make your dog comfortable. Don’t smoke or overheat the car during travel as this may cause your pooch to be nauseous. Consider taking along things that your dog finds comforting such as a blanket and his or her favorite dog toys.
Your aim here is to make your car feel like a second home to your pooch so that he or she won’t feel anxious riding in it. Other ways you can make your dog comfortable may also involve:
- Regulating car temperature by opening the sunroof or window to allow in some fresh air.
- Playing some soothing classical music to reassure him or her and provide a relaxing atmosphere.
- If your dog is inside a crate, make sure it is flat and level, and cover it with a towel.
2. Ensure safety
Comfort should always go hand in hand with safety. The fact that your car is moving at a high speed may be the reason why your pooch is anxious, simply because he or she doesn’t feel safe. When you travel with your dog, see to it that you bring along a crash-test approved safety device.
- Small dogs – travel pod
- Medium-sized dogs – harness
- Large dogs – crate or dog car seat belt
A safety device doesn’t only secure your pooch in place but will also prevent him or her from distracting you while driving.
3. Take someone else with you
If you’re the one driving and your dog is still not used to being in the car, take another person with you whom your pup is comfortable with.
Your dog may end up distracting you while you are driving as he or she may get restless and start to move around, whine, or bark a lot in the car which can be extremely dangerous. If your pooch is sitting in the rear side, have someone pat him or her every so often as this spot causes undue stress.
If you have a driver, be the one to calm your dog by reassuring him or her that it’ll be alright. Use a calm tone of voice and don’t show annoyance or panic.
4. Place your dog in a car spot where he or she can see outside
Seeing what goes on outside the car usually help most anxious dogs. Depending on your pooch’s type or breed, you can make use of any of the following methods:
- Small dogs – Consider using a travel pod which can raise your dog up in a safe way so that he or she can see what’s outside the window.
- Medium-sized dogs – Use a crash-tested harness and place your pooch on a back seat so he or she can see the view outside.
- Large dogs – Place your dog in a crate to keep him or her safe while he or she enjoys the journey.
5. Visit your vet
Your pooch will respond well to medication if he or she truly has car sickness. However, make sure to visit your vet first to get the right medicine and dosage that your dog can try before the trip. If your pooch is prone to car sickness, avoid feeding him or her a few hours prior to your travel time.
Even with the medication, your pup may still feel nauseous in the car but you can at least prevent the horror of having to clean up a huge mess. Instead of giving him or her a huge meal, smaller treats given at certain intervals will keep your pooch sated enough to be comfortable during travel.
Enjoy road trips together with your pooch
Car travel anxiety in a dog stems from him or her not clearly understanding what’s happening, or associating trips with an undesirable destination.
As early as possible, start exposing your pup to positive experiences in a car. This way, your dog will learn to willingly get in the vehicle in anticipation of a good and exciting road adventure.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.