Tips On Teaching Your Dog To Travel Calmly In Cars

Travelling with dogs

For lots of dog owners, they prefer nothing better than hanging out at home with their pooch, or taking their dog for a walk. However, there are times when you need to transport your dog, whether it be for a vet appointment, to a boarding kennel or dog sitter or even across the ocean on holiday.

Some dogs have a big fear of transport and still others suffer from travel sickness, making travelling with dogs a tricky business. Read on for some tricks and tips to help with making your dog’s journey, and yours’ the most stress free it can be.

Get Your Dog Used To The Car

Before you take your dog on a journey in the car, get him used to it by simply sitting in a stationary car. Take a chew toy in with you and sit calmly so that your dog realises that nothing terrible will happen in the wheeled house! Allow him to wander around the car whilst unharnessed to familiarise himself with the new territory.

Something Familiar

Place a bed or familiar smelling blanket or piece of clothing in the car where your dog will be travelling. This will help him relax in the new environment

Secured Within The Car

Get your dog used to being secured in a stationary car. The law states that dogs must be under control and secured in any car. This can mean using a harness that attaches to a seat belt, a crate, or a dog guard that prevents the dog from distracting the driver. Work out what works best for your pup BEFORE you are travelling at 60mph down a motorway with a howling and frightened dog.

Prevent Car Sickness

If your dog suffers from car sickness you can try travel sickness pills or spray a calming scent before any journey. Both can be purchased at pet shops or at vets.

Start With Short Journeys

Once your dog feels comfortable in a stationary car, start by making very short journeys. Praise your dog during the ride if he is being quiet. If he shows signs of anxiety, speak to him in a reassuring voice. At the end of the car journey, give your dog a treat or take him for a run – get him to associate the car with fun stuff!

Over Excitement With Car Journeys

If your dog becomes overexcited at associating the car with good stuff, back up a little and just drive straight back home until he approaches car journeys calmly.

Obedience Commands

Practice obedience commands in the car on quiet side streets. Giving a dog structure and familiarity can help calm stressful situations.

Barking In The Car

If your dog barks in the car, make sure you wear him out before a journey. Where possible, take him out for a walk or run so that he is more likely to doze during the car journey.

Be Aware Of Your Dog Whilst Travelling

On any journey, stay aware of your dog. Make sure he isn’t fed less than 3 hours before a long journey and keep water in the car. If it is a hot day, attach shields to windows to help him remain cool. A dog who is thirsty, too hot or desperately needs the loo on a journey will start associating the car with bad things, taking you straight back to square one.

Take Breaks Whilst Driving

If your journey is a longer one, try to stop every hour to stretch your dog’s legs and give him a drink. If the journey is over 4 hours long, give your dog a good walk of twenty minutes or more.

Ensuring your dog knows what he is getting into, and preparing adequately for his needs on car journeys should help him acclimatise to travelling. If your dog still has issues with being in a car, you can ask for mild sedatives from your vet, although these should only be used as a last resort. Happy Travelling!

Featured image source flickr