How to make your anxious or car-sick dog feel better in the car
Some dogs love to ride in the car, while others don’t. Car rides can be a nightmare for dogs who suffer from anxiety and car sickness. Here are some tips to make them more comfortable during your trip.
Prepare for your trip
Before leaving your driveway, you can do some of the best things to make your dog comfortable in the car. Planning ahead can make your next car trip with your dog more enjoyable.
Training is vital to a dog’s happiness in the car. Desensitization techniques and counter-conditioning will help your dog create positive associations with vehicles instead of anxiety.
Make the car fun to be in! Please spend time in the car and give your dog their favorite high-value treats. Once they are comfortable, you can add more steps to your routine. For example, clipping them in their travel harness or turning them on and off the car. Start driving just down your driveway and back. Make sure you take frequent breaks, increasing the length of your drive each time.
If you are ready to go on a road trip, make sure that your destination is something your dog would be excited about, such as a dog park or a favored pet store. You can only sometimes avoid boring errands or vet visits, but you can make the ride seem exciting.
Soon, your dog will jump in the backseat with their tails wagging at a mile per minute! (Until then, learn more about how to use desensitization to get your dog to stop barking at the doorbell and how counter-conditioning can help reactive dogs.)
There are many tools to manage your dog’s anxiety. You can help your dog relax with soothing pheromones and soothing diffusers, herbal calming products, compression garments such as the Thundershirt, and anxiety medication prescribed by a vet. Try a few different methods to find the one that works best with your dog before your next road trip!
You should ensure that your dog feels comfortable in the car if you plan to travel for an extended period. Pack the essentials for traveling, such as food, water, bowls, and leashes. Also, bring a few toys and some poop bags. Consider dog-proofing the car as well!
Seat covers for the back seat will prevent mud from muddy feet or vomit from motion sickness getting on your upholstery. Hammock seat covers keep your dog out of the front seat and in the back. Doggy car seats secured by seat belts are a great option to keep your dog comfortable and safe.
If you will be driving for some time, giving your dog food and water might be tempting. However, avoiding feeding them before getting in the car is best. A full stomach of food can make a ride more bumpy. Ask any person who has motion sickness. It would help to feed them several hours before your departure to give them food time to settle.
Give your dog some good exercise to tire them out. This will help them relax and even sleep in the car. Before you get in the car, let your dog go for a run or have a good time at the park. This will help them start the trip feeling tired and satisfied.
While on the Trip
It’s finally time to get on the road. What to do to make your dog feel comfortable and relaxed on your road trip?
Everyone is ready to leave the vehicle after a long road trip. Rest stops are essential for your dog’s comfort, as they can be used for both potty breaks and stretching their legs. Experts recommend stopping every 1-3 hours, depending on whether your dog is a puppy or an adult with a more relaxed bladder. Plan to stop at a pet-friendly dog park or hiking trail so that your dog can burn off some energy and have a more extended break from the car.
Enjoy the Entertainment
Pack two toys for your dog: one for him to chew on or a chewy treat that will last a long time and another for you to play tug-of-war with. The first will keep your dog entertained while you drive, and the second will allow you and your dog to exercise and release energy during rest stops.
Remember your dog when setting the mood for your road trip! You might enjoy blasting out your favorite rock or pop music to energize yourself, but your dog may prefer something lower-key. You can play classical or indie tracks or songs your dog enjoys.
Keep your car cool, and open the windows for fresh air. If you want to keep warm, bring a sweatshirt. Lower temperatures can help prevent nausea.