Some dogs will go running to the car before you even finish asking if they want to go for a ride. Unfortunately, not every dog is as agreeable. Others will scamper to their crates or curl up in their dog beds as soon as they hear your keys jingle. For those dogs who have trouble traveling in the car, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to take them to the vet or the dog park; they don’t want to go.
If you’re wondering how to travel with a dog who has trouble riding in vehicles, don’t panic: it’s possible to change your dog’s behaviors. You may be able to get your canine to, if not outright enjoy a car ride, at the very least tolerate one. Here are some common causes of car anxiety and coping strategies to try when it comes to traveling with your pooch.
Why Your Dog Hates Car Travel
A car isn’t frightening to you; it’s familiar. You know what to expect when you press your foot down on a pedal, and when to expect it. Most dogs spend much of their lives indoors, or outside on a leash. A car represents an entirely new, strange space to them. It’s an environment over which they have no control, and they’re bound to be on edge if they don’t feel comfortable.
You’ll be able to tell easily if your dog isn’t happy in your car. Your canine might bark for the entire ride, pace, pant, or even vomit. That’s no fun for either of you–or for your car seats! The source of your dog’s discomfort could be anything from motion sickness to nervousness, so it’s important to understand what the signs of discomfort mean, and how best to handle them.
Like people, dogs can get motion sickness while traveling in a moving vehicle. Unlike people, dogs can’t tell you when they don’t feel well. It’s up to you to be aware of the common symptoms of motion sickness in your dog while on the road:
- Licking or smacking their lips
- Drooling more than usual
- Whining or whimpering
Some good news about motion sickness: also like people, dogs tend to suffer from it more when they’re younger. Some dogs will outgrow it entirely. But if they don’t, or they learn that a car ride always means something negative like vomiting or a trip to the vet, you could have a hard time getting them to ride in the car comfortably. You probably wouldn’t want to get into a car if you threw up every time, either!
How to Smooth Out Your Dog’s Car Ride
Luckily, there are quite a few different ways you can adjust your routine to make travel more comfortable for you and your dog. It may take some trial and error until you find the method that works best, but a happy pooch will also mean less of a headache for you as you drive to your destination. Take some time to explore these different options so you can better understand and adjust how your dog approaches car rides.
Make Your Car a Fun Place, Not a Scary One
When you take your dog somewhere in the car, is that destination usually a positive or negative experience? Maybe you only ever drive your dog to the vet. Your furry friend will learn pretty quickly that a ride in the car leads to a stressful situation, like a checkup or shots. Before you know it, you’ll have accidentally caused your dog to associate the car exclusively with the vet. With that comes increased stress, barking, and overall resistance to riding in the car.
The key here is to change that association. Teach your dog that the car doesn’t always mean you’re off to the vet, but that you might be going somewhere fun! Take your dog for short drives to a nearby dog park to show it that a ride in the car can be a good thing. Make sure to bring along treats to encourage your dog during the actual ride.
Help Your Dog Relax in the Car
A dog travel crate could provide the perfect way to keep your canine content in the car. If your dog was crate-trained properly at home, it knows that its crate is a place of safety, somewhere it can sleep soundly without fear of attack. You can create a smaller version of that environment in your car to make your dog feel just as safe when zooming down the highway.
Alternatively, you can purchase a harness that works like a seatbelt, keeping your dog safe during the ride as well as keeping it from pacing nervously throughout the car. To help your dog relax further, you might want to bring some of its favorite toys or something that smells like home to increase the sense of safety in your car. If nothing seems to make your dog relax in the car, it might be worth taking a trip to the vet to find out if the problem might go deeper.
Utilize Wapiti’s G.I. Tract Supplement to Make Car Rides Easier
You might have the calmest dog in the world or one who loves car rides, but even those dogs can have stomach troubles in the car. If you’re looking for a way to soothe your dog’s upset stomach while travelling, give Wapiti Labs’ G.I. Tract supplement a try. Our all-natural herbal supplement reduces occasional stomach discomfort in dogs. It also helps support digestion and bowel health, while harmonizing the stomach and resolving food stagnation due to undigested food.
Contact us to learn more about our all-natural products and how they can help your pup!