Generally speaking, dogs suffer from travel anxiety. In most cases, it occurs because they find themselves in a new environment, especially when you put them in the backseat of your car for the first time, and they don’t know where they are going and what is happening next.
Yes, some pets have no problem with this, and they eagerly jump in the backseat the moment you open the door. However, this is very rare, and the chances are that your dog will face the same problem. Luckily, there are some things you can do to try to calm them down, and we will list them in the following article.
Introduce them to a carrier or your car
If you are not really sure how your pet will react to this new environment, you should give them some time to get familiar with it. We are not saying that you should just put the dog in, but instead, give it the opportunity to observe it. Place a carrier somewhere where the dog can see it, but still be far enough from it, so it doesn’t feel fear. Then, you should start approaching the object step by step. Make sure to reward your dog with a treat every time they move closer to the carrier. This training exercise will take some time, which is why you should begin doing it in advance, but it is also the best way to prevent travel anxiety.
Give it time to adjust
Once you are confident your dog isn’t afraid of the car, it is time to start going on trips. Obviously, you should start with short drives. A short drive around a block is perfect for the first time. Then, you can gradually increase the duration as your pet becomes used to them. Don’t forget that dogs are prone to travel sickness because of all the movements, so you should make sure to avoid bumpy roads and try to make the rides smooth and as comfortable as possible. It goes without saying that you should reward your friend with a treat or special cuddle time after each of these trips.
Make a comfortable environment
Keep in mind that these trips are a completely new thing for your pet, and one of the ways you can try to calm it down is to ensure they feel comfortable in the backseat. Firstly, you should put the pet’s favorite blanket or a pillow, and don’t forget to bring toys as well. These are the things the dog is already familiar with, so the entire transition will be more comfortable.
Next, it is absolutely crucial to ensure the heat and humidity in the car aren’t too high. You may be able to tolerate this, but your dog certainly won’t be able to. So, you should turn on the air conditioning if it is too hot and crack open the window so that the fresh air can circulate. However, be careful not to crack the window too much. If the dog can stick its head out of it, you can rest assured it will do it, and this is something you should prevent during the adjusting stage.
Cover or uncover the windows
This trick may or may not work, and it ultimately depends on your pet’s personality and preferences. For example, some dogs will get overstimulated and overexcited after looking through the car window for a while, and then they can get really agitated. On the other hand, others enjoy observing their surroundings and can get distressed if there are no distractions. We can’t really tell you which one of these will work, so you should test both of them and observe the dog’s reaction and behavior to see which option they enjoy more.
Do not feed the dog beforehand
This is probably the worst thing you can do. After the meal, the dog needs some peace and quiet to digest all the food. As you can assume, your car is the worst place for this. If you feed it just before the trip, the chances are that the dog will vomit pretty soon. Not only will your pet be uncomfortable, but you will be the one who has to clean everything. Plus, the dog will probably remember the awful feeling and event and won’t be so eager to jump in the backseat any more.
Take breaks often
It doesn’t matter how long your trip will take. When you take your pet with you, you need to plan numerous breaks along the way. The dog will need a short walk every few hours, and you cannot expect it to sit quietly for long periods of time. Due to this reason, you should take some time to plan your route beforehand so that you can stop at rest stops and get some refreshments. Also, make sure that the collar and leash are secured around the pet before you let it out of the car. Its safety needs to be your number one concern, and rest stops are always crowded, meaning that the dog can get scared easily and try to run.
Consider professional transportation
Lastly, if your dog suffers from severe travel anxiety, so none of the abovementioned tips didn’t work, or if you are moving long-distance, you should consider using this service. Companies like Smoosh® Dog Transport use top-notch vehicles designed specifically to ensure your best friend enjoys the best experience.
Now, we understand that entrusting your dog to strangers may be a source of great stress for you. However, these companies enable you to track their movements so that you know where your pet is at any moment. Plus, they will take great care of the dog and make sure that it is comfortable, so there is nothing you have to worry about. Take your time to investigate these businesses in your area and learn about the services they offer. It won’t take you long to realize that this may be the best alternative.