Here are 6 tips for making car rides for dogs a little easier
1. Create a positive association with the car.
For puppies or older dogs that get anxious in the car, try to create a positive association with the car, teaching them that a car ride can be non-scary, even fun!
Start out with simply putting the dog in a stationary car. Give a few really special treats (hot-dogs, liver treats, chicken or cheese pieces). Then let them out of the car. Repeat for a day or two.
Next step is to put them in the car with the engine running but not moving and provide a lot of praise and special treats.
Then progress to a short ride, perhaps just a half a block or even just up your driveway. Provide treats during the ride, don’t wait until the ride is over.
Slowly increase the length of the car rides as the dog starts to associate it with pleasure.
During this training phase make sure to drive to fun places such as the local dog park, beach or other place that you know they’ll enjoy. Taking them to a fast food restaurant for a take out hamburger is a good idea too, but remember to only give them a small amount as a treat.
After a few weeks you can be sure your dog will look forward to those rides!
2. Bring along a crate or carrier for your dog to travel in.
A crate provides a sense of security and above all provides safety for the dog. It is a good idea to get your dog used to the crate in the comfort of your home before your trip.
3. For dogs that suffer from motion sickness, avoid feeding right before a car ride.
If you have a dog that suffers from motion sickness, avoid feeding just before a car ride. Rather give a light meal a few hours before the start of a trip and bring water for them to drink en rou. Provide lots of rest stops if you are driving a long distance.
If you are not sure if your dog does get carsick, look out for these signs that may indicate a feeling of car sickness
· excessive drooling
4. Open a window.
Open the car window just a little bit and allow the dog to get some fresh air. This helps with nausea as well.
5. Bring an item of your clothing or a toy.
Your scent is calming to your dog so if you bring an item of your clothing or a blanket from home, that may help towards calming an anxious dog. A toy may do the same, giving the dog something to chew on while they travel and provide a distraction as well.
6. Calming supplements and wraps
Try the following natural remedies which have been known to help with anxiety and car sickness
1. Bachs Rescue Remedy. This is a natural flower scent known to have a calming effect. Disclaimer: Please check with your veterinarian before giving any supplements
2. ThunderShirts are like wraps, similar to swaddling a baby and the gentle pressure has been found to have a calming effect on dogs.
3. Ginger is known to sometimes help with motion sickness
4. Pheromones sprays and collars providing a calming scent to make dogs feel at ease. This scent is the same one that is emitted by a female dog just after giving birth to make her puppies feel at ease.
As a dog photographer in Toronto, I have the opportunity to chat to dog owners all the time and find that these are not uncommon situations. It is well worth the effort to find a remedy.
Travelling with your dog should be an enjoyable experience. If you have a dog that experiences anxiety or motion sickness, hopefully the above tips will help! Remember that what works for one dog may not be as effective in another, so keep on trying until you find the remedy that works for your furry friends!