Essential Tips for Car Traveling With Your Dog

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Traveling together can be quite rewarding for both you and your dog. They will make you feel safer and you will help them experience and explore the world. Most importantly, you will bond like never before. Imagine it now – you and your dog on the open road, cosy evenings, exciting adventures, and loads of brilliant dog portraits and action shots to look back at when you get home.

Delightful as this may sound, many dog owners would rather like to avoid the trouble of traveling with their faithful friends. Just as any training, this too takes time, effort and even some creativity. Below, you can read useful tips on how to go about this problem when traveling by car.

tips for travelling with dogs

Essential Tips for Car Traveling With Your Dog

Break the Fear of the Unknown

Dogs do not understand the concept of cars or traveling, for that matter. All their experience is immediate – boredom, anxiety, fear, anger – because they don’t know what traveling means. To reduce the anxiety of car traveling, it would be best to make your dog prepare and make positive associations. 

First and foremost, take them on shorter rides a couple of times before taking them to longer distances. Make sure you always reward them for good behavior in the car by giving them a treat, petting or praising them. Also, avoid doing this when you feel like the weather might upset them or make them uncomfortable in some way. 

Finally, you can make positive associations and take them somewhere they can have fun a couple of times, like a park or a playground. This will help them see the positive connection between your car and the future destination. Positive feedback is key here, but make sure to gradually cut down on treats. You don’t want to get them used to this, because they will protest as soon as you betray their expectations – which is just additional trouble. 

Make Them (Feel) Safe

You shouldn’t let your dog travel without additional security. That is both a formality and something to help them feel safe during travel. It is important to keep in mind that your dog could have some unpredictable reactions during the trip, whether he’s nervous or excited. 

There are a couple of ways you can deal with additional security. According to your dog’s restraint tolerance, you can use a dog safety leash or belt, a car harness, a transport crate, and perhaps consider a separation net between backseats and the driver. If you’re unsure of what these are, Pet Life makes some of the nicest dog harnesses and leashes you can look up.

Most dogs are agitated with transport crates and may feel caged. Safety leashes are quite simple for use and allow for some freedom of movement, but may not be very resistant if your dog is a larger and heavier breed. A harness might be the best option, being both comfortable and completely safe. If your dog isn’t used to these, they will need some time to adjust before they become comfortable.

Mind the Manners

Just as with anything else, you’d want them to know how to behave while on the road. The keyword here remains safe. Just as they can’t sit in the front seat, for this reason, you should discourage restless and unpredictable behavior in the backseat, as well. 

You can help them out with this by taking them for a long, exerting walk before a big trip, as this will prevent them from getting bored and restless too quickly. And you’ll be sure that they have relieved themselves, so they won’t become upset anytime sooner.

Highways and parking areas are stressful environments for dogs, so bear in mind they might show unpredictable behavior. Make sure they’re always restrained in situations that might cause them stress or give them motion sickness. Another thing to keep in mind is the window. Although this can be quite soothing to them, don’t let their heads pop through windows. The blowing wind can lodge various dust particles in their mucous membranes, ears, and nose, which could cause irritation.

tips for dogs in cars

You shouldn’t let your dog misbehave in the car

Look Out for These Signs

Most dogs won’t like it at first and might become grumpy, nervous or quiet. However, it is important that you make a distinction between the expected peeves and potential indication that your dog needs to see a vet. Here are some signs to watch out for that might indicate your dog is experiencing motion sickness or anxiety.

Motion Sickness

Vomiting might be the most evident and dramatic form of motion sickness, but it is not always the case. Excessive drooling should draw your attention if your dog isn’t prone to it. Whining can be a call for attention, so it’s important to discriminate between attention-seeking and call for help. Even yawning and lip-smacking is something to keep an eye on. 

Generally, it is always a good idea to travel on an empty stomach, as this will reduce the chances of them vomiting. Still, they may feel nauseous, so letting some fresh air in and making frequent stops should alleviate additional pressure. Just in case, consult your vet and bring along meds. If you suspect your dog might suffer from motion sickness, something to soothe their nerves or stomach will do the trick. 

Travel Anxiety

Of course, if your dog feels nauseous, they are more likely to feel anxious during the trip. Only after you’ve dealt with motion sickness can you tackle their problems with anxiety and stress. When it comes down to these issues, keep in mind the above-mentioned strategies. 

Additionally, aim to distract them with toys or music, just to keep their minds off of their surroundings. Finally, the smells of the car can affect their mood big time. If your dog tolerates herbal smells, maybe try out essential oil diffusers with soothing scents. This will both help them relax and keep the car smelling good afterward.

After you’ve overcome their initial discomfort and familiarized them with manners and formalities, you’ll get to enjoy your trip the way only dog owners can. Soon, you’ll feel the charms of traveling with your faithful friend, as it is truly a unique experience, unexpectedly beneficial and tremendously joyful.


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