Car rides with your dog are fun. Plenty of dogs enjoy the opportunity to go on an adventure, see the world, and have the wind blow on their nose if they’re so lucky. But before you can do that, it’s important you’ve acclimated your dog and yourself to driving with each other.
Some dogs feel anxious or get sick while driving, and their human companions need to learn how to help them get through this. Similarly, people need to learn how to drive safely for their selves and their dogs. Here are four tips that will help you prepare yourself and your dog for car rides together.
“While you’re teaching your dog to associate car rides with fun, you also need to teach good habits!”
- Make Driving a Fun Experience
The most important thing you can do for your dog in preparation for car rides is making them a comfortable experience from a young age. Puppies are curious beings that want to explore the world, but some things can also be overwhelming. Initially, car rides can be one of those things. Make sure that when you first take your puppy on car rides, you are reassuring and comforting them.
Next, ensure that your destinations result in fun activities for your dog. Puppies inevitably go to the vet more, so they may start associating car rides with that, for example. This is not fun. Mix up your car rides and take them to dog parks, hiking trails, or other places where they’ll have a good time. That way, when they get in the car, they are excited because they know they are going somewhere to have fun. This will help your dog as it gets older.
2. Plan Ahead
For dogs that get motion sickness or anxiety while driving, you need to plan ahead. Sometimes the two are related, and you can prepare by making sure your dog has exercised before and is calm, and by altering their eating and drinking habits by having them eat and drink well in advance or reducing how much they eat and drink. This reduces motion sickness and keeps your dog calm. Puppies are especially more prone to motion sickness, and it’s smart to have towels and other cleaning supplies handy in case they have an accident.
If you plan on going for a long car ride, it’s especially important to plan ahead.
3. Teach Good Habits and Practice Good Habits
While you’re teaching your dog to associate car rides with fun, you also need to teach good habits. You do not want your dog chewing the interior or running from seat to seat. This is unsafe for you because it’s distracting, and it puts your dog at risk of getting hurt. You want to teach them to stay in his or her place.
At the same time, you need to practice good habits. Stay consistent with how you want your dog to behave and where they should sit. Reinforce good behavior regularly with treats and praise. Do not let your dog distract you, stay focused on driving for the safety of you and your dog.
Speaking of safety, there are a few things you can do to keep your dog safe in the car.
“Reinforce good behavior regularly with treats and praise.”
You can keep a crate in the back that is fastened down, so it doesn’t move around. Put your dog in the crate and drive with him or her this way. This is especially good for dogs that are already comfortable in crates as it helps reduce anxiety.
Although the crate is best for keeping your dog secure and one place, you can also use a dog seat belt or harness. Both attach to a regular belt via the collar. You fasten the seatbelt while the dog sits in front of it. Both the seat belt and harness will keep your dog in place. The harness is seen as the more comfortable and secure option, but you should use what best suits your dog.
Remember to be consistent in the way you travel with your dog in a car. Reinforce good behavior, keep them and yourself safe, and make sure you’re having fun.