Road Trip Guide: How to Take Care of Dog Travel Anxiety

So, thinking of going on your first rodeo with your dog are you? This is pretty much great! When you love your dog as much as I do, you ought to plan a road trip with them. You want to take them with you wherever you go. Whether it’s the short distance or long one. You have to plan things through to make sure your pup makes the journey alive and well. 

And yeah, I’m not even kidding. 

Although the experienced car riders, look forward to the long car rides ahead but if it’s your dog’s first time riding in the car even for a couple of hours then things can take turns for ugly. Dog travel anxiety is not a myth but an ugly reality for every dog parent. 

Symptoms Revealing Car Travel Anxiety in Dogs

So you may need to travel to the other town for a couple of days but can’t leave the dog behind. What to do then? 

Sometimes it may happen that your pet doesn’t like the car rides. You need to develop the essential skills in your puppy by training them with shorter rides to make them habitual. Unfortunately, some of us are unaware of car phobia in dogs. 

The symptoms can vary between dogs and range from mild to severe in any of the form;

  • Shaking 
  • Heavy panting 
  • Pacing (or trying to)
  • Excessive salivation 
  • Hyperactivity (jumping on the seat or move between seats)
  • Barking or whining 
  • Vomiting
  • Urinating 
  • Defecating 

Why does your Dog Fear Car Rides?

This can be very confusing. As a dog parent, you need to understand that as much as you love your dog they are still animals, their reaction to the vehicles is a lot different than that of humans. Even humans are prone to vertigos, right? 

There could be a number of reasons your dog has car phobia like; 

Car Sickness

One of the most common problems is your dog can get car sick. A dog can easily feel nauseated or even vomit during car rides. The ear structure balance may not be fully developed if your puppy is too young or it could be that some dogs simply have the vestibular disease. In adult dogs, stress can also be one of the reasons for motion sickness. 

So if your dog looks queasy to you this could be the apparent reason. 

Unfamiliar with Rides

If a dog isn’t familiar with the car rides, this will and can become a problem for you. Riding in the car can be an odd feeling for your poor dog. Each car has its own smell. Dogs have a sensitive nose so it can mess with their sense of smell (or hearing too). This can result in a frightening experience. 

Previous Negative Experience

Did you adopt your dog from your neighbor or from your colleague? It could be possible their former experience wasn’t a good one. This can develop a negative fear about the car rides. For instance, dogs develop negative experiences or fear about vets visiting it could transfer to the fear of cars. 

Here’s how you can help your dog to overcome car anxiety

Depending on the reaction your dog shows on car rides, here’s what you can do to make things easier for your dog.

  1. Enticing is always a better option than forcing your dog for a car ride. So if you don’t want your dog to pause while you hold the leash tightly, you can lure them with the homemade doggie treats! Praising also goes a long way with them. A dog with mild car anxiety can be taken care of with short training sessions.
  1. Open all the windows of your car so that your dog doesn’t feel trapped. If your dog has a history of confinement then the possibility is the idea of using a dog crate would also make your dog balk right? Using positive reinforcements like dog chew toys or edible treats while the fresh air ventilates the insides of the still car is a good idea. Let the dog get used to sitting inside the car. But do not leave them unsupervised. 
  1. Instead of rushing inside the car and getting the groceries, go on a casual drive. Even driving a bit longer around a block, spending quality time will help. Bonding with your dog comes with a lot of open, car rides is one of them. So you can slowly make your dog more comfortable and familiar with the dog car seat and the car set. 
  1. If your dog’s car anxiety is high, then begin with small trips to the store or to the supermarket. A long trip will have a negative impact (which you want to avoid) so pick food on the driveway or go for a picnic on a car ride. This is the best approach so far. 
  1. Dogs enjoy open areas, so you can take them to the nearest fun destination too. This can be the first long car ride for your dog after you have made them familiar with the car and how to sit still without whining. 

Always remember to be patient with your dog. It’s a living creature with emotions and feelings. Every dog breed is different, some can easily adjust to modern technology while some take some time to be a loving dog parent for your pet. 

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I am William. I hail from Toronto, Canada. I am a pet lover and a travel enthusiast with an avid likeness towards expressing my experiences. I am an entrepreneur as a professional who'd like for people to benefit from my experiences and grow manifolds.