Now that Summer is here and we all start to turn our attention to going on holiday. Packing up the car for a day’s outing with our dog should be something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, for some dogs this isn’t the case.
Problems of car travel mainly involve:
Motion sickness and feeling nauseous
Associating the car with an unpleasant experience (going to the vets or kennels)
So what can we do to help?
If your dog salivates, pants and looks miserable, it’s likely they feel sick. Ask your vet about medication that addresses this problem. www.cerenia.com is a product that can help. There is also some useful advice on car travel on their website.
For fear, associate the car with pleasant experiences. Give them treats in a motionless car. Play with them by opening all the doors and throwing a ball through the car for them. This encourages the dog to enter the car to retrieve it.
Gradually build up their confidence. Follow step 2 but begin starting the engine.
Work towards moving the car a short distance. Provided they do not show fear, slowly increase the journey time. Remember to continue with the rewards.
Adaptil spray is a pheromone product that may help induce calm behaviour. It has also been shown to reduce stress and nausea. Spray it on a blanket in the car a few minutes before travelling or on to a bandana that your dog can wear during the trip.
Avoid feeding before a car journey but make sure they have had a small drink half an hour beforehand. Don’t forget to take water with you.
For over-excitement introduce car travel on the way back from a walk. You could also try taking them on short journeys but to nowhere in particular. This will help them stop predicting an exciting walk so they do not become over-aroused.
For the dog that only usually goes to the vets in the car - try and take them to pleasant destinations too!
Remember: Dogs should always be harnessed or secured during travel to prevent injury and interfering with the controls.
I am a qualified Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) and Association of Behaviour & Training Council (ABTC) Registered Clinical Animal Behaviour Counsellor. I am also a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC). I have a special interest in education and hold a recognised professional teaching qualification. I am available for one to one behaviour consultations, covering problems with dogs, cats, rabbits and parrots. I also offer CPD courses to the veterinary profession, pet professionals, local RSPCA centres and pet owners. Courses include: Animal First Aid, Animal Behaviour and other animal care related topics.