Anxiety about riding in the car is a fairly common issue for dogs, and can result in undesirable dog behaviour, including carsickness, whining, vomiting, and pacing in the car, which is distracting to the driver. How can you help your furry friend to become more comfortable with riding in the car, so that there are fewer problems?
The trick is to associate a car ride with good things in your dog’s mind. If you only got to ride in the car when going to the doctor for shots or to have someone soak you in water and come at you with scissors and nail clippers, you would be afraid to ride in the car too! So how can you condition your dog to associate car rides with good things?
Accept that this is often a slow process, and start slowly. Walk your dog around the car, getting them comfortable with being beside the car. Then, slowly progress to letting your dog get into the car, and sit in the backseat with them with the engine turned off. Be sure to bring their favourite toy or treats, and reinforce their good behaviour with good things. You could also try feeding them in the vehicle.
Once your dog seems more comfortable with being in the car, try turning the engine on and letting it idle, before taking very short trips of just a few minutes at a time to a place your dog will enjoy – a dog park, a new neighbourhood to walk in, family or friends (of the furry or the human nature) to visit, etc. Gradually increase the length of your trips as your dog’s behaviour in the car improves.
Many dogs have shown significant improvement in their behaviour in the car, as well as a decrease in instances of carsickness, using this method. If your dog is still restless in the car you could try crating your dog as this gives them a sense of security. Improving your dog’s behaviour is always a training and conditioning process, from stopping jumping and digging to carsickness and separation anxiety. Be patient with your pup, and they will reward your efforts.
To read more great advice on helping your furry best friend lead a happy, healthy life, contact us.