Dogs are a big part of the family and it’s only natural to want to take them on holiday with you, but what do you do if your dog is anxious about car travel or has never been in the car before?
Here are a few tips we use to get our dogs used to travelling in the car.
Get your dog used to the car with long trips
Begin getting your dog used to travelling in the car as early as possible.
We recommend a few long distance trips rather than a lot of short journeys, as a long trip gives your dog chance to get used to the movement of the car. Dogs who suffer from travel sickness often become anxious when they have to get in the car so a lot of short journeys can make the issue worse.
Feed your dog in the car
If your dog is anxious about getting in the car, give them their daily meals in the car while it is stationery. This will allow your dog to start viewing the car as a positive place and help them get used to jumping in and out of it.
Keep your dog secure
The Highway Code says that your dog needs to be restrained to prevent injury and distraction; ‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitable restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you if you stop quickly.’
We recommend using a crate or a dog guard in the boot and harnesses if your dog will be sitting on the seats.
If your dog is not in a crate, ensure they have enough room in the boot and that any luggage in the boot with them is secured to prevent injury.
You don’t have to keep stopping
Your dog has no problem lasting the night without going to the toilet so there is no need to keep stopping every hour. That’s not to say you shouldn’t stop at all but you don’t need to stop frequently as it may unsettle your dog if they are anxious.
Don’t reprimand your dog for being sick
If your dog is sick do not tell them off for it because they cannot help it. Remember to take things to clean up with if your dog is sick in the car.
Don’t respond to your dog’s anxieties
Ignore any anxious behaviour from your dog because comforting them will reinforce the idea that they have something to worry about.
Place your dog’s bed or blanket in the car to help them get comfortable. Make sure you take plenty of water and a travel bowl to allow you dog to drink when they need to.
If you are going on a particularly long journey, take food with you. We recommend allowing a couple of hours between when your dog eats and when you continue travelling as this will allow their stomach to settle, which is important if your dog suffers from travel sickness.
Consider taking your dog’s favourite toy to keep them occupied with.
Make sure your vehicle has plenty of ventilation to keep your dog cool. You can buy reflective sheets to place over your dog’s crate to help keep them cool if it’s hot when you’re travelling.
If your dog is likely to get muddy or wet, take towels to dry them off with and to protect your car.
Make sure you give your dog as much time as possible to get used to travelling in the car to help both you and your dog have an enjoyable and stress-free journey. Happy holidays!