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Car Sickness & Fear of Riding in Cars

‘Not every dog loves a face-in-the-wind car ride.’

For some dogs, car rides produce a great deal of anxiety. A combination of fear and not understanding what is happening will cause drooling, shaking, or even vomiting in some dogs and cats. In humans, we refer to this as car sickness or motion sickness; however, true motion sickness is a result of an inner ear problem. Some dogs truly do have motion sickness, and for these animals products such as Dramamine can be used under the supervision of a veterinarian. For most dogs, however, the sickness is strictly an over-reaction to the fear and apprehension of the car noise, motion, etc. If your dog would rather be anywhere besides in the car, here is how you can help her overcome the fear of car rides.

car in a car restraint

  1. Get your dog used to the car environment. Get in the car together and have a treat. Talk. Be happy. Make it a fun time. Do not have the car running, just share a treat and make it a positive experience. Repeat this a number of times on different occasions. You may want to feed your dog in the car. If your dog is afraid of even getting into the car, try feeding or giving a treat close to the car.
  2. Get your dog used to the car while it is running.Repeat step one, only this time start the car. Give a treat before and after. If she looks or acts nervous, reassure her that everything is OK. Take your time and make sure she is relaxed before ending the session.
  3. Get your dog used to the motion of the moving car. Once she is used to the car running without any fearful reaction, back the car to the end of the driveway, then forward again to the garage. Give her a treat and praise her. Repetition is the key. The more you do this the more confident your dog becomes that cars are no problem. In fact, to her it becomes a great place for attention, praise, and even treats.
  4. Now it is time to take a short trip around the block. Treats and praise before and after, and calm, reassuring talk throughout the ride are a pre-requisite. Gradually increase the distance traveled until your dog is calm no matter how long she’s in the car.

Some animals still need something to calm them. There are non-prescription products such as Serene-um, Pet Calm, and Rescue Remedy. In severe cases, even stronger prescription anti-anxiety medications can be dispensed by your veterinarian. We suggest using natural remedies when at all possible.

Get puppies used to the car while they are still young and are more receptive to new adventures. Dogs make excellent traveling companions so it is well worth the training now for the years of enjoyment it will bring both of you once you get over this obstacle together.

Source:  Doctors Foster and Smith

And even though your pup loves a ‘face-in-the-wind car ride’…. a few tips to him safe!

Got a pup who loves hitting the road and feeling the wind on his whiskers? Just as you do with your people passengers, follow a few important precautions to keep him safe while riding in the car.

No riding shotgun. Having your pup up front is way too dangerous and distracting, so he should always ride in the backseat. This helps protect your furry friend from making contact with the windshield or being injured by the airbag in the event of an accident. And don’t let him ride in the back of a pickup truck. It’s as unsafe as it looks.

Buckle up for safety. Ideally, your dog should ride in a travel carrier or crate that’s secured to the seat so it doesn’t slide around or tip over. Another option is a travel harness that works like a seat belt — most pet stores carry them.

Go easy on breezy. Letting your dog catch a little breeze is fine; just be sure to leave your windows up at least halfway so that he can’t stick out his head too far. Lock any automatic windows so he doesn’t accidentally hit the “up” switch with his paw.

Don’t leave him alone. Always keep an eye on your pooch and the temperature inside the car; the mercury can quickly rise, even on days that don’t seem terribly warm. Hot temps can put your pup at risk of heat stroke and other health problems.

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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August 20, 2009 - Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, pet products, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

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    Pingback by Take the Stress Out of Car Trips with Your Dog « JustOneMorePet | April 2, 2011 | Reply

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