Safe Car Trips with your Dog are Paramount
With the increasing number of travel and holiday destinations accepting dogs, the need for safe (and fun) car trips with your dog becomes a top priority.
The first thing to be aware of when it comes to dogs and cars, is that for many dogs, the feelings associated with going for a ride in the car are not good. Others love to go along for a ride from day one. The negativity often occurs because the only time that they often go in the car, is to the vets, which is not necessary a good thing in their opinion. For your dog to want to go for a car ride, they will need to be able to associate a good experience with it. (Image above by The Consumerist via Flickr other article photos by the UCLA Shutterbug.)
Preparing For Successful Car Trips with Your Dog
- It is best to get your dog used to the car at an early age. Start by placing your puppy in the back of the car with the engine off. Ensure that you place a sheet or blanket in the backseat first, to catch dog hair and other messes that they might make. Now give them a treat. You will need to repeat this several times before you even go for a car ride.
- Once your dog begins to associate the car with a good experience (the treat), start the engine while your dog is sitting in the car. If they seem comfortable, go for short 5-minute car trips with your dog.
- Please note it is important for any dog to be secured when riding in a car. There are many products for this purpose, such as dog car seat belts, dog car safety seats and carriers. What ever device you intend to use, get your dog used to it before going for a drive.
- If short car trips with your dog are working successfully, it is time to extend the drive. Make sure that you choose a destination the your dog will like. Remember, we want them to associate the car with a good experience. For example take them to the local dog park. Never take your dog someplace where you will have to leave them unattended in the car. Even with the window partly down, it can get extremely hot in a car and it is not uncommon for pets to suffer heat stoke and death.
- Finally, don’t let your dog ride with his head sticking out of an open window. This can lead to eye injuries.
Guidelines for Longer Car Trips with Your Dog
- Get a health check at your vet before going on an extended trip. Make sure all their vaccinations are up to date
- To avoid your dog throwing up in the car, do not feed them for several hours before your journey. Make sure they have access to plenty of water at all times. Ginger is also a good holistic remedy… in capsule form or even a few ginger snap cookies. (Car Sickness in Dogs).
- Make sure your dog goes to the bathroom before any long trips.
- As a precaution, in case your dog runs away while you are traveling, make sure that your dog has a strong collar, carrying an identification tag with the dog’s name, your name, and your home/mobile phone number. Include any other important tags, such as a rabies vaccination tag and your dog license. Bring a recent picture of your dog along with you.
- Leaving your pets in the car is never a good idea! Not only because of heat and cold, but also because people steal them. Try to take a second person with you on an extended trip and if you must stop somewhere make sure it is only for a minute or two and try to park your vehicle where you can see it and your pets.
- Keep the car well-ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
- Never let your dog ride in the back of an open vehicle. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injuries or death.
- Stop frequently for drink, exercise and potty breaks. Please clean up after your dog.
- To keep your dog healthy and happy, bring along a supply of their regular food and some local, or bottled water. Be sure to bring any medications they need.
What to do if your Dog is a Nervous Traveler
- Give Them a Familiar Object – Bring their favorite toy or blanket. These familiar items help them to deal with the unfamiliarity of the car.
- Talk to Your Dog – Some dogs are soothed by hearing your voice while others can get more excited. Try both talking and silence to see which works best for your dog. It is best not to scold your dog, but to use positive reinforcement. If you are talking to your dog to calm them, do not allow this to distract you from driving. Similarly, petting a dog while driving can be a distraction and they will only pester you for more.
- Play Music – Turn the radio on. Soothing music can have a calming effect on some pets. The sound will help cover the loud and unfamiliar sounds of the road.
- Open a Window – By opening one of the windows near them, you can provide a distraction through new and interesting scents for your dog.
By applying these guidelines, you will be well on your way to having successful car trips with your dog.
We recently had to relocate and ended up driving a small U-haul with a few of our belongings that we would need until having our pod delivered, so decided to rent a 10-ft truck and a car hauler for our car.
Our four pups were our most important and prized concern. After pretty much everything was packed up and the pod was off my husband went to pick up the truck. When he pulled up I almost fell over. The truck came with two bucket seats. I had only ever seen or rented a U-haul with a bench seat. There was a big enough area between the two seats to stack the cushions 4 high from the couch that we had no sold. Things always end up happening for a reason… It was a big enough area for all four of our Chihuahuas and Chiweenies to lie down at the same time and it put them up high enough so they could see and extended the area by stuff a sweatshirt or two over the drink holder area.
Our greatest fear was how the trip would be for our one who was now four and had suffered from car sickness since he was a puppy. I was prepared with bags and clean stuff. He never got sick once on the trip or since. We think being higher up helped him and maybe seeing cured some anxiety that he had?
We made regular stops and had water and snacks for in-between, and we just ate fast food or stopped at markets or road stands for some fresh fruits and veggies along the way. We stayed in pet friendly motels along the way. It really turned out to be a great experience for six of us!!
Temperatures Are Rising: Be a Dog Defender: Help Save Animals This Summer! Cool Ideas for Hot Dogs – Please be proactive and vocal… you could be saving a life and definitely saving animals of a lot of suffering!!