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Car travel with your pet dog

Many dogs do not enjoy travelling by car, it is an experience they find frightening and stressful. You can avoid any potential nightmares and make your car journeys, whether long or short, as pleasurable and free from stress and anxiety possible with the application of some simple foresight and planning.

Your pet dog should be home trained before you think about taking car journeys with him, able to recognise his own space for sleeping and obey your basic commands, this can make it easier for him to transfer his familiar home experiences to this new “car environment”.

Attempts at introducing your dog (puppy or adult) to the new idea of car travel should be taken slowly, you should start with a basic introduction to his new travel area, ideally the back seat or behind that if convenient and open. Try placing some familiar possessions here to make him feel at home. Initially don’t start the engine and leave a door open while you pet and talk to him. When you think he seems comfortable being in the car you can start taking him for some short rides, try going to places he might be familiar with and likes, however it is essential to vary the journeys you take, don’t just use the car to visit the park or your vet, dogs will learn by association and if they associate a car journey with just pleasurable or stressful visits they may get over-excited or become anxious and stressed on any subsequent journeys.
As soon as you feel your dog is at ease with these short journeys and likes the idea of getting into “his favourite spot” in your car he will be ready for longer journeys, which will require some advance planning.

When taking longer journeys it is better if your dog is made secure whilst travelling, try using a harness, doggy seat belt, carrier or crate (if your car is big enough), all are readily available to buy. One of these methods will help restrain any bored dog who might want to move around too much.

One of his familiar blankets to make him feel comfortable is also a good idea and can encourage sleep. Take some toys, both old favourites and even a few new ones.

Your journey should be planned to allow time for comfort stops, all dogs will need to stretch their legs with a short walk, get some fresh air and take toilet breaks.

You should carry plenty of liquids and food for your dog and try not to feed him for a few hours before you leave also try to feed only small amounts of food when on the journey.

It is essential your dog has sufficient ventilation, even if your car has air conditioning try to leave a nearby window open slightly, but must not be wide enough for him to get his head out which is both dangerous for the driver and the dog.

At any stops you make, where you take your dog out of the car ensure he is put on a secure lead before allowing him outside.

Another thing to consider is consulting your vet before undertaking your first long journey, vets are usually happy to offer advice and even supply any suitable medication that could alleviate stress, anxiety and possible car motion sickness.

Some dog breeds will be happier travelling in cars than others, choosing the right dog breed could save you, the owner, a lot of stress and anxiety.

Following these suggestions will hopefully make your journey stress free and you can realise the pleasure of a car journey with a happy and contented dog; no one constantly asking questions, telling you the best route to take, commenting on your driving or asking how much longer will it be?

David Bates

Pettrendy The Pet Dog Information Site

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