As the temperatures rise, we like to spend our weekends outside the house and often also outside the city: relaxing on the beach, hiking in the mountains, camping or simply visiting your friend for a barbecue party. As Beirut turns into a broiling hot and dense dungeon we like to get into the car and escape – but of course not without our furry companions. But what if you have one of those dogs that just doesn’t travel well in the car?
Car sickness, excessive slobbering, barking or whining are common signs that your dog suffers from car travel anxiety. Don’t worry, however, as there are many solutions for helping your furry one get over his anxiety and become your best road trip companion. Careful planning and patient training can literally teach him to “relax and enjoy the ride.”
1. Make the car an exciting place
For dogs that aren’t used to riding in a car, the motion and vibrations can be scary. You have to slowly introduce the car and create positive associations. To help familiarize your pup, always lure your dog into the car, never force. Your first goal should be getting your dog into the car easily. Reward your dog at every step with treats. Don’t drive anywhere at first—just practice getting in the car with an exciting reward.
Once your dog jumps into the car by himself, take a few short trips and make sure their destination is positive (not the vet!) . Eventually your dog will start to see riding in the car as something fun and not scary and you can go for long rides.
2. Create a cosy and safe space within your car
If your dog travels in a crate, the backseat, the back or the front depends on your preferences, your dog and your car type. A crate is the safest option but if your dog is not used to being in one, you’ll have to start with crate training. If the backseat is your choice, better cover it with a blanket or a seat protector to avoid your seats to become dirty,hairy and smelly. Now, add items your dog likes, for example his favorite blanket or a toy. To be as safe as his humans, a doggy
3. Exercise before the trip
Exercise decreases stress and increases feel-good hormones to tire out your dog helping him to better tolerate the car trip. Time walks to happen 10 to 20 minutes before you load the car and hit the road.
4. Play Calming Music
There are Youtube channels and playlists like this one with calming music to soothe your pup during stressful situation. Downside: You’ll go crazy after some time.
5. Use medication
If your dog suffers from inevitable car-sickness or has severe anxiety and you have to take a trip, you should pay your vet a visit and find out if there is any medication available.
6. Address certain triggers
Certain sights and sounds may terrify your dog when he’s in the car. To counter your dog’s fear, offer a generous reward every time he sees or hears the thing that frightens him, regardless of the trip being short or long.
7. Be safe
Drive slow, take breaks (bring a water dispenser or travel bowls) and if possible get your dog a doggy seatbelt. We know it sounds funny given the fact that the seatbelt isn’t exactly popular with people in Lebanon but if you care about your and your dog’s safety in case of an accident. Make sure to attach the seat belt to a harness and never any kind of collar.
For you to be successful, you need to be willing to work this out with your dog in his own time. If you are rushing to go somewhere, this is not the time to get her over the issue.