Helping Your Dog with Car Anxiety
Updated: Jun 29
We begin this week’s “RUFF TAILS” featuring a beautiful 19-month-old Mioritic Shepherd named Forrest.
I was born in a shelter and was adopted at 9 weeks. My mom says I am a fierce protector, loyal and very independent. I am leery of strangers and because of Covid, I rarely had any formal introductions to humans. As I have gotten older my mom says I have a mind of my own.
I am training to develop my recall, my off-leash boundary control and leash reactivity with dogs at close range. Mom says I am getting better day by day. My mom says she wants me to have a full and wonderful life.
Welcome to Doggie Dialogue
Many dogs love going for car rides; however, some dogs dread it.
Dogs can have anxiety about car trips, if they have had a bad experience in the past, such as a car accident and/or feeling trapped inside the vehicle.
Some dogs suffer from motion sickness, when in a vehicle. Some dogs will whine, drool and even vomit.
To help with motion sickness, keep your car cool, roll your windows down slightly for fresh air, and you can ask your vet about motion sickness or anti-anxiety medications.
There are even dog pheromones sprays available that mimic the odor of a “nursing mother” dog and can even relax an adult dog.
Puppies tend to adjust quickly to car rides as they are taught at a younger age and become desensitized to the motion of the vehicle.
For a dog who is demonstrating fear of the car ride, start with your dog standing away from your car while it is running.
We recommend keeping the back door of the car open and let your dog assess the situation. Once your dog is comfortable with their surroundings, try to encourage your dog into the back seat of the car, with encouraging words or their favourite treat.
Using this technique links “food and fun” with the car ride.
This can take minutes or “weeks “, do not rush this step. Move at your dog’s pace.
Some of our clients will use a dog crate, or harness, that attaches to the seat belt in their vehicle to safely secure their K9 in a moving car.
When sitting in your car, with your dog, let your dog get familiar with the sights and sounds of the vehicle.
Such as the radio playing, the remote locks beeping, and the car engine running. You can even practice turning on and off your car before leaving your driveway.
In the beginning, start with short car rides and praise your dog as you go. A great reward for “enduring” the car ride, would be to stop a few blocks from your home to let your dog out to run and play.
This will create a positive association with your car rides with a destination of fun and enjoyment.
This will make it easier for you when it is time to go to the groomers, or the vet.