Bringing your dog along on a car trip can be challenging. Changes in their routine can leave pets confused and reacting to their environment in a different way. Carsickness and travel anxiety are also common among pets. Your dog can get anxious, pant, or even vomit in the car – and this can disrupt your travel plans and schedule.
It’s a good thing, then, that there are different ways to help your canine become more accustomed to traveling.
Here is a step-by-step guide to preparing your canine for your upcoming road trip.
Step : Train your dog to be calm inside the car
Here’s something you should do a few days or even weeks before your scheduled trip. With the car parked, get into the back seat with your furry friend. Praise him and give him treats. Depending on how stressed he becomes inside the car, stay there for a few seconds or minutes.
Continue doing this every day or every other day, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend inside the car. This is crucial because this will help get your dog to associate the vehicle with happy, positive experiences, and he will be comfortable in the vehicle when the day of your car trip rolls around.
Step : Strap him in
Never let your dog ride loose inside the vehicle, especially if you let him stay in the back of your pickup truck. Instead, keep him safe and comfortable by keeping him inside a crate or carrier, or strapping him into a harness. Remember that your dog will be less anxious if he feels safer in the car.
There are crates that are specially designed to keep your dog safe and comfortable inside the car. You should buy a crate that is large enough for your pet to turn around inside and comfortably recline. Don’t buy one that is too large, thinking that your canine will be more comfortable in it, because he’ll be tossed around every time you will change lanes.
Since dogs aren’t excited about being in an enclosed crate, make sure to buy one weeks or even months before your scheduled travel date. Give your dog enough time to make friends with it (in the same way you helped him become more familiar with your vehicle).
Leave the crate out where he can frequently see and smell it with the door open. Let him explore the crate by placing toys and treats inside. This will help him see the crate as his personal comfort zone.
If it is impossible or inconvenient to have a crate, a harness is another great option for keeping your dog safe and comfortable while traveling. All you have to do is strap your canine in the same way you strap in your child or fasten the seat belt.
Dog carriers for travel are designed primarily for containment and not for comfort. But you can always outfit it with soft beddings or a blanket to make your pet comfortable. Avoid using thick beddings though because this may prevent him from breathing easily, especially if he has a snub nose.
The right dog travel crate, harness or carrier is indeed the best and safest way to keep your dog safe and comfortable while traveling. It also keeps the other passengers safe during travel.
The best dog restraint will depend on the comfort level of the restraint, the size of your canine, and the kind of vehicle you drive. Some great options include plastic carriers, portable dog homes, and foldaway pet carriers.
Step : Take short trips
After getting your dog used to the car and his restraint, take short trips within your neighborhood to enhance their comfort level. It is highly recommended that you visit fun places, such as the pet store, dog parks, and to the home of a friend who also has a dog.
Again, do this on a regular basis and gradually increase the travel distance. For instance, you can visit the same places, but take the longer route this time. This will help make your canine think that your real trip is just another activity.
Most dogs associate car travel with a vet visit, which makes them feel anxious and stressed each time they ride a car. But by helping your pet associate positive experiences with being in a car, you can actually change his behavior and keep him comfortable throughout the trip. This will surely be a huge advantage if your holiday destination is quite far, or even if you are planning to move interstate soon.
Be patient and go slow. Train your beloved pooch to stay calm inside the car and practice traveling before the journey. And don’t forget to keep him feel safe and comfortable by putting him in a quality crate, carrier or harness.