4 Tips About How to Travel With a Dog in a Car

5 min read
4 Tips About How to Travel With a Dog in a Car - Animals Matter, Inc.

For many dogs, car rides are the greatest events of their lives, and they'd be thrilled to live on the road full-time. Unfortunately, that's not the case for all dogs. In fact, some pups can experience extreme anxiety from the ride. Other dogs enjoy riding, especially if you're headed for the dog park, but they suffer from car sickness. What's even worse is when you begin to feel anxious—now both of you are jittery. Knowing how to travel with a dog in a car can help, but it takes time.

So, what do you do if it's time to take your dog for a ride and they're not up for the trip? Here are four tips about how to travel with a dog in a car and make your next road trip with your dog less stressful.

1. Start Out Small

If your dog is not thrilled with an idea of a car trip on the open road, it's always a good idea to start out small. This means you don't actually get in the car at first. For some dogs that fear cars, you may not even get in at first. Instead, do things they love near the car, like playing tug of war.

Once you get them in the car, get them used to wearing a seat belt or sitting in a car seat. You'll also need to get them used to the vehicle cranking up, the horn beeping, and all those other crazy sounds that make their ears twitch.

Once they become comfortable getting in the car, you can start with short trips. This gives them time to get used to the car moving. This is also ideal for dogs who feel anxious about leaving home. If you make it a trip to someplace they feel safe or enjoy going to, that's even better. Short trips will also alert you if your dog suffers from motion sickness.

Over time, you can work your way up to long road trips. This process for how to travel with a dog in a car is far from fast; it may take weeks or even months, depending on the dog. But knowing you can take a quick trip to the vet for vaccinations without your dog becoming overly anxious is worth it.

2. Use Car Seats and Seat Belts

While it may seem convenient to let your dog have the run of the car, it's not a great idea. In the event of a wreck, your pup could be severely hurt or even killed. That's why investing some money in a good car seat is a good idea.

You can place them in the front or back seat, depending on the style of the car seat. There are even some you can put in the middle console.

In some cases, there are harnesses you can attach to the seat belt. This will allow your dog the freedom to move around some, but not enough so that they're bouncing around the vehicle like Tigger.

If your dog is more into chilling, then a hammock may be just what they need. These are an option for a variety of dog sizes. Even better, it keeps doggy fur off your seats. If your dog isn't into hammocks, then a seat cover can help alleviate some of the stress you feel when trying to clean up the dog fur from your vehicle.

3. Make Things Comfortable

According to the American Kennel Club’s advice about how to travel with a dog in a car, just making the car feel comfortable can go a long way towards making your dog feel safe and lessening anxiety. It can also help lower the risks of car sickness.

Some ways you can do this include:

  • Keep the temperature low.
  • Limit how much food and water they consume a few hours before you begin your epic trip.
  • Provide a cushion bench so your dog can ride in comfort or buckle your dog into a special car seat.
  • Exercise them about twenty minutes before you travel.
  • Lower the car windows to allow in fresh air.
  • Spray pheromones in the car.

There are also medications that can help, such as motion sickness and anti-anxiety meds that can leave your dog feeling extra comfy.

4. Make It Fun

Dogs are often very in tune with our emotions. Because of this, if you feel anxious about how to travel with a dog in a car, your dog will most likely also feel anxious. Instead, try to perk your pup up. Make this seem like the greatest thing of all time.

You can also incorporate their favorite treat or meal, bring that toy they can't live without, or invite someone they absolutely adore. This can teach them that the car is not something to fear. This is especially true for dogs who have been abandoned in the past. They associate the vehicle with losing their family, so they need to learn that they'll always come back home once the ride ends.

Also, don't forget to layer on the praise. Treats are great, but hearing the words 'Good dog' will leave your pup feeling like a real champ. Animals Matter offers a great selection of dog beds, car seats, and other accessories to make a car ride easier than ever, so check us out today.

FAQs About How to Travel With a Dog in a Car

How can I reduce my dog's anxiety in the car?

Start with short car trips. Dogs also love cuddling with others, so if you can have a family member sit next to them, this can be very reassuring. Bring along their favorite toy or dog bed. You can also offer supplements that may make them feel safe. Chew toys are fine, as long as it's not something they can choke on.

How do I keep my dog from getting car sick?

While there is no definitive way to ensure this never happens, you can do a few things to lessen the impact when your dog gets car sick. One is to ensure you don't give them too much dog food before starting out.

Also, be aware of when they're drooling too much. This can signal that things are getting ready to flow in the wrong direction. Finally, stop to let them take frequent potty breaks.

You can also talk to your vet about anti-anxiety treatments and motion sickness pills.

What can I do to make my dog feel comfortable in the car?

Bringing along your dog's favorite toys can make them safe. Having their favorite person sitting next to them could be even greater than bringing their bed along. But the key is to start small. Before you ever crank the car up, take the time to make your dog feel safe while sitting in a car seat. Once you begin moving, they'll already feel comfortable being inside the car, which will pave the way for great joy rides.

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