Watching all those happy commercials and family movies with the owner smiling behind the wheel, while the dog enjoys his regular car drive, might make you think all dogs enjoy long drives in the car.
Well, unfortunately, not really. Of course, there are those commercial-type doggies that do love the feel of wind in their fur, but there are also those that never know how to act. Full of anxiety and panic, they simply always fail to calm down and enjoy the ride. And you, unlike this smiling movie character, need at least 3 more hands to keep everything under control in the car. Lucky for you, your dog might not be a natural, but there are things you can do so both of you can stop hating those car rides so much. All you need is some good tips, training and a lot of patience, and you and your dog can start planning your next road trip.
Keep reading for some smart tips on how to stay safe and start enjoying traveling with your dog in the car.
Before you leave, double check if you have everything with you
Especially if it’s a long road trip you’re preparing for, you’ll have to make sure you have everything you and your dog might need. Start by making sure that you’re bringing the usual amount of dog food and water (plus your dog’s bowls) that your dog is used to eating every day. Changing the type and amount of food and water your dog is accustomed to consuming might result in a worse motion sickness. Also make sure your dog has its collar with an ID tag and your home address and contact details, its favorite blankets, and that you have enough waste disposal bags and washcloths so you can clean the car if any accidents happen.
Get your dog used to driving in the car
The earlier you start training your dog and getting it used to car rides – the better. When your dog is just a little puppy, start by taking it for short drives first and eventually start lengthening its time spent in the car. Start by really short drives around the neighborhood, then level up by driving to the vet and eventually to longer distances. This way it won’t be such a huge shock for your dog once you decide to take it for a 6 hours drive to the beach.
Always keep your dog in a crate
This one goes for the dogs that love driving in the car and enjoy hanging their heads out the window. This might look good on a photo, but is a really bad idea. Letting your dog roam free in your car can end really badly since your dog will be less safe and more prone to injuries in case of an accident, and it can actually be the cause of the accident itself.
Get your dog a nice dog crate that is big enough so your dog can stand up, but not too big so your dog will slide every time you take a harsh turn, and that is nicely ventilated and sturdy. Once you put your dog in the crate, fastened it in place with a seat belt on the back seat of your car. If your dog is too big for a crate or simply doesn’t like staying in one, you can always for harnesses that were especially designed to be used with seat belts.
Try to understand motion sickness
The reason why some dogs don’t like car rides is not just because of their inability to relax and stay calm, but also because they might feel really bad motion sickness. Dogs, like small children, can get really sick when driving in a car. In order to know how to control this, you’ll have to try to understand how your dog is feeling. Some of the symptoms of motion sickness in dogs are yawning, whining, fatigue, vomiting and drooling more than usual.
Make regular stops
Even though you might be one of those people that can drive for hours and hours before they need to make a break and stretch their legs, your dog definitely isn’t. Act as if you’re traveling with children and make regular stops, this way your dog will have its potty break, plus an opportunity to spend some extra energy that it was accumulating during the trip and stay calm for longer once back in the car.
Never leave your dog alone in your car
And once you do make a stop, remember to never leave your dog by itself in a parked car. Even if you open your window a bit, it won’t help – a car parked in the sun can develop really high temperatures in no time, and on the other hand, during winter days it can get really cold really fast and your dog can even freeze to death.
Keep your dog calm and entertained
Once you make sure you’re bringing all necessities with you (food, water, dog’s ID, disposable bags and old washcloths), add some of your dog’s favorite toys. This can be a stuffed animal, a bone, or just any other item that never fails to keep your dog relaxed and entertained for longer periods of time, or even short ones, anything will do. You don’t want your dog to feel bored, the more boring the trip for your dog is – the more longer it will seem to the both of you.
Talk to your veterinarian
If you’re afraid that even after changing the way you ride your dog will still not enjoy the trip, make sure you discuss your plans with your dog’s veterinarian. Sometimes vets can prescribe medicine that will help with your dog’s motion sickness and anxiety. Although you should always try to naturally adapt your dog and get it used to traveling in the car, you might want to have some pills with you, just in case.