Traveling with a canine can be a stressful experience. Dogs are not built for travel and they are easily agitated when they are in a moving vehicle. Hence, it would be useful to learn a few tricks to keep your dog calm when you are in a car or any kind of vehicle, for that matter.
How to calm a dog in a car? Here are 5 different ways on what you can do to make the experience less stressful for you and your canine.
1. Allow Your Canine To Get Used to Cars
Among the numerous reasons why your dog may have bad experiences with short trips is that they associate cars with negative things. It is important to help your canine get used to the feeling of being in a car so that they will feel more at ease inside the vehicle. At first, try to take your canine inside the parked vehicle for just a few minutes a day.
It is advisable to give treats to your dog when they behave inside the car. This way, they will associate being inside the vehicle with good things. Never do this activity when the weather is too hot or too cold or else your dog will have horrible memories about the experience.
Once your dog is accustomed to being in the car, take short trips. Going to a shop nearby or the next block with your dog in the car should be your next step. Try to take your dog on longer rides before the trip. Although it may be necessary to take long drives during your actual travel, your dog will have an idea of what it should do during these moments.
My friend, Janet from Family Tent Center, she has a big pit bull. She once told me how she got the dog to go camping with her. Firstly, she got the dog to the car, brought him to a playing ground where the dog can play happily. She did it several times and that made the dog see car like a positive thing.
2. Restrain Your Dog
Some dogs feel more comfortable when they are secured while driving. In the same way that there are seatbelts for humans, dogs also feel more at ease when they are restrained. Travel carriers, harnesses, and crates could be great choices when you have a canine in the car that needs transporting. The need for this kind of equipment does not imply that you are a bad driver but the security is what some dogs need so they would stay calm.
Irrespective of the type of restraint you plan to use, make sure that it is comfortable for your canine. Speaking of restraints, it is advisable to use them especially when you are driving because a loose dog who is not too accustomed to cars may distract you.
3. Pheromones and Homeopathic Preparations
Another option that is open to you when you have a dog in the car is to use their sense of scent. Among the best calming techniques that many dog owners swear by is pheromones and natural scents to decrease your dog’s anxiety.
Q: What type of behaviors do pheromone products target?
A: Dog pheromone products are used for general stress, separation anxiety, noise phobias, such as those caused by storms or fireworks, and travel, …. However, Hunthausen says dog pheromones are not effective for aggression problems in dogs…
(Read more at http://pets.webmd.com/)
Pheromones sprays and collars which can be bought from your vet’s clinic or from pet stores calm canines and make them feel at ease. This scent is the same one that is emitted by a female dog that just gave birth. These pheromones make her puppies feel at ease and you can use the same to make your dogs comfortable inside a car.
If you are not too keen on using pheromones, you can also use homeopathic solutions. There are plant and flower essences that could make it easier for your pet to stay calm inside the car. Traveling while using these scents might help your canines relax although it may not be applicable for everyone.
4. Bring Toys and Clothes
If you want another way to keep your dog behaved while you are traveling, bringing some toys with you can be a great idea. In a way, dogs are just like little kids. You need to give them treats to make sure that they will be on their best behavior while riding with you. Carrying a few toys, especially the ones they like best, could help them stay in a good mood while traveling.
While this suggestion worked for some pet owners, it does not work every time. If your pet has a tendency to chew on stuff, this may not be the best idea as it can give your dog indigestion. Aside from that, the pieces of the toy could be lodged in their stomach and this is bound to cause more problems. So, if you give your doggie some toys to keep them calm, be sure to keep an eye on them.
5. Use medication
Irrespective of the amount of training that a dog goes through, there are some cases where they could not stand the stress of traveling. In this case, your best option is to rely on medication to make sure that you can bring them along without hassles. While drugging your dog is not the best idea, it remains to be a good option although this should be your last resort.
If you are planning to use drugs to keep your dog calm, you need to consult your veterinarian first. There are a number of medicines that you can use on your dog to make sure that it remains calm, here are some of your choices
- Sedative: If you are having trouble bringing your dog with you because they become agitated easily, then sedating them could be an option. This will decrease their level of awareness about their surroundings so they do not feel excited constantly.
- Antihistamine: If your dog gets anxious about being on a car or they get car sick easily, then this is a good choice. This can help your canine deal with those issues and more.
- Others: Aside from these two, your vet may also prescribe anxiolytics or neurokinin receptor blockers. The former acts a bit like a sedative while the latter can help with vomiting and carsickness.
” While these options may seem to be great ones, always ask your vet first. Do not use any type of drug for your dog unless there is explicit approval from your vet. “
In conclusion, traveling with your dog is a great experience. However, you need to make the necessary preparations to make the experience less stressful for you and your pet. Always do your research and keep in mind that what works for one dog may not be as effective in another.