How Can I Calm My Dog’s Anxiety in the Car?

As a dog owner, you’ll appreciate the significance of outings with your dog, those precious moments which are forever cherished. Outings often mean taking your beloved pet with you in the car, something which can be unsettling for pets who experience anxiety in this setting.

If your dog dreads the thought of riding in a giant moving machine, suffers from motion sickness, or is anxious because of a bad experience, there are ways you can alleviate the issue and condition your dog to ride with you in a calm and comfortable fashion.

Ensuring your dog is a first-rate passenger is a top priority, so how exactly can you calm your dog’s anxiety in the car?

Teach Your Dog to Love the Car

Regardless of age, any dog can be counter-conditioned to associate car journeys with positive things. This usually requires patience as part of a gradual process, with the ultimate goal of shifting your pet’s emotional response to a positive one.

This can be achieved by introducing great things your dog loves. Where and when you choose to do so will largely depend on where your dog’s anxiety starts. For example, if the anxiety begins on the driveway, so will your treatment.

You should select a starting point from where your dog is most comfortable before proceeding step-by-step. The trick is to introduce something beloved as your dog starts to experience anxiety. For example, a special toy, calming chews for dogs, a meal, or even a special game will work.

This will not only distract your dog from their usual feelings of anxiety, but most importantly, it will slowly teach your dog to associate the car with good things. Again this can be achieved as part of a step-by-step process, perhaps starting with the driveway before moving into the car once your dog is ready.

Only move onto the next logical step once you notice a sense of relaxation. If you feel like you’ve gone too quickly, you can always retreat a few steps or even start again from the beginning. It could be a matter of minutes or weeks, but what’s most important is you move at your dog’s pace.

Pair each step of the car journey with a treat, like when you close your car’s doors or make the remote locks beep. Remember to be as outwardly positive every step of the way, tossing treats, or playing tug of war. The final step will be turning the car on and off with your dog inside. When your dog begins to associate the sound of the engine with fun, food, and games, you’ll be well end route to altering your dog’s perception of the car.

However, what about actual journeys?

Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Riding in the Car

So now your dog looks forward to getting in the car, what about adding motion to the mix? Short distances are a great place to start before building the time spent bit by bit. Make every trip as pleasant as you can, praising your dog while driving and vocally encouraging positive behavior.

It’s great if you can enlist a helper to offer rewards, especially considering road safety is a must! You should also introduce opportunities for your dog to get out and explore the outdoors, before returning home after creating the most positive car journey of all.

When destinations are fun, and the journey itself is a satisfying one, your dog will begin to look forward to car journeys. Where not every destination will be a positive one, remember to take plenty of treats to soften the eventual blow of visiting the vets, for example.

Preventing Motion Sickness

If your beloved pet experiences motion sickness, you can utilize the following tips to get them back on track:

–       Keep the temperature cool

–       Allow fresh air into the car by opening the windows

–       Exercise your dog prior to the trip

–       Limit food and water intake prior to the journey