“Let’s go for a ride, Lucky?” Are these words music to your dog’s ears? Or does the thought of getting in the car frighten your pooch? Some dogs only experience a car ride to go to the vet, so they may associate the car ride with something scary instead of something exciting. If you are planning to take a road trip with your canine friend, there are a few things you can do to guarantee your dog enjoys a stress-free ride.
Before the road trip, it is important to start getting your new rider or anxious dog used to the car. First off, simply let your dog get in and out of the car while it’s parked. Reward him with treats for his attempts. Once he is comfortable with just being in the car, turn on the engine and let him continue to get in and out until he is at ease. Then take him for a short ride. You may want to introduce a doggie seat or seat belt system at this time. This could make him feel secure, but also will make sure he is still and isn’t free to roam the car and cause any distractions. The seat would also protect him if you are in a car accident. You may even want to consider a carrier or crate. Once he is alright with the short ride, take him for a ride to a place he will enjoy like the dog park or pet store. He will now associate positive experiences with the car ride.
Even if your dog loves car rides, you will want to keep a few other things in mind for all dogs. Never leave your dog unattended in the car for a long period of time; and if you do leave them in the car for a few minutes, be sure to leave the windows cracked. Make sure your dog is wearing his identification. Refrain from feeding your dog or allowing them to drink excessively before the onset of your trip, at least for a couple of hours to be safe. Some dogs can begin to feel sick from a car ride. Sometime simply cracking the car window will begin to circulate the air and prevent your dog from feeling ill. If you notice your dog is frequently experiencing motion sickness, you may want to contact your veterinarian for possible remedies. Also, be sure to have your dog go to the bathroom before loading into the car and stop for breaks often on long rides so he can relieve himself and stretch out a bit. You may want to research the pet-friendly stops available on your route.
Whether your dog is the anxious type or loves the car, keeping these few things in mind, along with a little preparation prior to taking that road trip together, will ensure that you both experience a wonderful vacation.