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Take the Stress Out of Car Trips with Your Dog

Dog in car

Safe Car Trips with your Dog are Paramount

Image by The Consumerist via Flickr

With the increasing number of travel and holiday destinations accepting dogs, the need for
safe (and fun) car trips with your dog becomes a top priority.

The first thing to be aware of when it comes to dogs and cars, is that for many dogs, the feelings associated with going for a ride in the car are not good.  Others love to go along for a ride from day one. The negativity often occurs because the only time that they often go in the car, is to the vets, which is not necessary a good thing in their opinion. For your dog to want to go for a car ride, they will need to be able to associate a good experience with it.

Preparing For Successful Car Trips with Your Dog

  • It is best to get your dog used to the car at an early age. Start by placing your puppy in the back of the car with the engine off. Ensure that you place a sheet or blanket in the backseat first, to catch dog hair and other messes that they might make. Now give them a treat. You will need to repeat this several times before you even go for a car ride.
  • Once your dog begins to associate the car with a good experience (the treat), start the engine while your dog is sitting in the car. If they seem comfortable, go for short 5-minute car trips with your dog.
  • Please note it is important for any dog to be secured when riding in a car. There are many products for this purpose, such as dog car seat belts, dog car safety seats and carriers. What ever device you intend to use, get your dog used to it before going for a drive.
  • If short car trips with your dog are working successfully, it is time to extend the drive. Make sure that you choose a destination the your dog will like. Remember, we want them to associate the car with a good experience. For example take them to the local dog park. Never take your dog someplace where you will have to leave them unattended in the car. Even with the window partly down, it can get extremely hot in a car and it is not uncommon for pets to suffer heat stoke and death.
  • Finally, don’t let your dog ride with his head sticking out of an open window. This can lead to eye injuries.

Guidelines for Longer Car Trips with Your Dog

  • Get a health check at your vet before going on an extended trip. Make sure all their vaccinations are up to date
  • To avoid your dog throwing up in the car, do not feed them for several hours before your journey. Make sure they have access to plenty of water at all times. Ginger is also a good holistic remedy… in capsule form or even a few ginger snap cookies. (Car Sickness in Dogs).
  • Make sure your dog goes to the bathroom before any long trips.
  • As a precaution, in case your dog runs away while you are traveling, make sure that your dog has a strong collar, carrying an identification tag with the dog’s name, your name, and your home/mobile phone number. Include any other important tags, such as a rabies vaccination tag and your dog license. Bring a recent picture of your dog along with you.
  • Leaving your pets in the car is never a good idea!  Not only because of heat and cold, but also because people steal them.  Try to take a second person with you on an extended trip and if you must stop somewhere make sure it is only for a minute or two and try to park your vehicle where you can see it and your pets.
  • Keep the car well-ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
  • Never let your dog ride in the back of an open vehicle. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injuries or death.
  • Stop frequently for drink, exercise and potty breaks. Please clean up after your dog.
  • To keep your dog healthy and happy, bring along a supply of their regular food and some local, or bottled water. Be sure to bring any medications they need.

Mother's Day - 24 Days Old First Ride In A Car

What to do if your Dog is a Nervous Traveler

  • Give Them a Familiar Object – Bring their favorite toy or blanket. These familiar items help them to deal with the unfamiliarity of the car.
  • Talk to Your Dog – Some dogs are soothed by hearing your voice while others can get more excited. Try both talking and silence to see which works best for your dog. It is best not to scold your dog, but to use positive reinforcement. If you are talking to your dog to calm them, do not allow this to distract you from driving. Similarly, petting a dog while driving can be a distraction and they will only pester you for more.
  • Play Music – Turn the radio on. Soothing music can have a calming effect on some pets. The sound will help cover the loud and unfamiliar sounds of the road.
  • Open a Window – By opening one of the windows near them, you can provide a distraction through new and interesting scents for your dog.

By applying these guidelines, you will be well on your way to having successful car trips with your dog.

Leaving CA  - We Are Sooo Ready to Leave

Images by the UCLA Shutterbug

We recently had to relocate and ended up driving a small U-haul with a few of our belongings that we would need until having our pod delivered, so decided to rent a 10-ft truck and a car hauler for our car.

Our four pups were our most important and prized concern.  After pretty much everything was packed up and the pod was off my husband went to pick up the truck.  When he pulled up I almost fell over.  The truck came with two bucket seats.  I had only ever seen or rented a U-haul with a bench seat.  There was a big enough area between the two seats to stack the cushions 4 high from the couch that we had no sold.  Things always end up happening for a reason…  It was a big enough area for all four of our Chihuahuas and Chiweenies to lie down at the same time and it put them up high enough so they could see and extended the area by stuff a sweatshirt or two over the drink holder area.

Our greatest fear was how the trip would be for our one who was now four and had suffered from car sickness since he was a puppy.  I was prepared with bags and clean stuff.  He never got sick once on the trip or since.  We think being higher up helped him and maybe seeing cured some anxiety that he had?

We made regular stops and had water and snacks for in-between, and we just ate fast food or stopped at markets or road stands for some fresh fruits and veggies along the way.  We stayed in pet friendly motels along the way.  It really turned out to be a great experience for six of us!!

Related: 

Stress in Dogs (Pets)

Pet Car Sickness and Fear of Riding in Cars

Orange County Sheriffs Ask People To Buckle Up Their Pets

Cruelty Alert:  Pets Suffering from Heatstroke in Parked Cars

Don’t think for a Minute that Dogs Can Survive in a Hot Care

Temperatures Are Rising: Be a Dog Defender: Help Save Animals This Summer!  Cool Ideas for Hot Dogs -  Please be proactive and vocal… you could be saving a life and definitely saving animals of a lot of suffering!!

Honda’s Dog Friendly Element Revealed – Gets Humane Society Approval

Honda’s Dog Friendly Element

Source:  Just One More Pet

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April 2, 2011 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, animals, Chihuahua, Chiweenie, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, pet fun, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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