Problems with your dog in the car?

POSTED ON: Wednesday 9th March 2016
AUTHOR: Caroline Clark

Now that Spring is in the air we all start to turn our attention to going on holiday.  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.

Problems of car travel mainly involve:

  • Motion sickness
  • Associating the car with an unpleasant experience (going to the vets or kennels)
  • Over-excitement and movement chasing

So what can we do to help?

  1. If your dog salivates, pants and looks miserable, it’s likely they feel sick. Ask your vet about medication that addresses this problem.  www.cerenia.com is a product that can help. There is also some useful advice on car travel on their website.
  2. 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 them. This encourages the dog to enter the car to retrieve it.
  3. Gradually build up their confidence. Follow step 2 but start the engine.
  4. Work towards getting them in the car and when they can tolerate that, move it a short distance. Provided they do not show fear, slowly increase the journey time. Remember to continue with the rewards.
  5. For movement chasers- consider using a covered travel crate. Remember to follow the tips for crate training: https://www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk/how-to-crate-train-your-dog
  6. Adaptil spray is a pheromome 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 or on a bandana a few minutes beforehand
  7. For over-excitement, introduce car travel on the way back from a walk, or..
  8. Take them on very short journeys but to no where in particular.  That will help your dog to stop predicting that they are going somewhere exciting so they gradually become less aroused every time they go in the car
  9. For dogs that are fearful of car travel because it represents a trip to the vet – try taking them to exciting places too!
  10. Remember: Dogs should always be harnessed or secured during travel to prevent injury and interfering with the controls

For dogs with severe problems it is a good idea to get some help from a suitably qualified behaviour counsellor who can help with desensitisation and counterconditioning techniques.

If you need more specific work with your dog contact me.