Packing up the car for a day’s outing with our dog should be something to look forward to. Unfortunately for some dogs this isn’t the case.
Some dogs react badly when in a moving car, from whining to barking and even vomiting, all of which make the journey distracting and unpleasant for both dog and owner.
Some problems of car travel for dogs
- Motion sickness and feeling nauseous
- Associating the car with an unpleasant experience (going to the vets or kennels)
- Movement chasing
What can we do to help our dogs? Ten useful tips
- If your dog salivates, pants and looks miserable, it’s likely they feel sick. Ask your vet about medication that addresses this problem.
- For fear, associate the car with pleasant experiences. Give them treats in a motionless car. Play with them by opening all the doors and throwing a ball through the car for them. This encourages the dog to enter the car to retrieve it.
- Gradually build up their confidence. Follow step 2 but begin starting the engine.
- Work towards moving the car a short distance. Provided they do not show fear, slowly increase the journey time. Remember to continue with the rewards.
- For movement chasers, consider using a covered travel crate. You can find a useful guide to crate-training your dog here.
- Adaptil spray is a pheromone product that may help induce calm behaviour. It has also been shown to reduce stress and nausea. Spray it on a blanket in the car a few minutes before travelling or on to a bandana that your dog can wear during the trip. Bach's Rescue Remedy can hav a similar effect.
- Avoid feeding before a car journey but make sure they have had a small drink half an hour beforehand. Don’t forget to take water with you.
- For some dogs, feeding them something that contains ginger about an hour before leaving can also prevent vomiting. Ginger is a plant with natural anti-sickness properties and there are several pet remedies that contain it. If you don't have a natural ginger product to hand, a ginger biscuit will do the job.
- For over-excitement introduce car travel on the way back from a walk. You could also try taking them on short journeys but to nowhere in particular. This will help them stop predicting an exciting walk so they do not become over-aroused.
- For the dog that only usually goes to the vets in the car - try and take them to pleasant destinations too!
- Remember: Dogs should always be harnessed or secured during travel to prevent injury and interfering with the controls.
Does your dog suffer from car sickness? If so, how have you dealt with it? Give us your tips below.