Car rides can be an anxious experience for your pup, or they can be enjoyable! At some point your dog will have to take a trip in the car so it’s important to properly prepare them for this and to do it in a way that will decrease their anxiety and increase positive associations with road trips.
Starting Out Young
Like training and socialization, it’s important to familiarize your dog with riding in the car at a young age. To begin, let your pup explore your vehicle and get accustomed to it while it is off and parked. Let your pup sniff around, sit in the seats, and get used to any harness devices you may use in the car. You can even bring your dog’s favorite toy or treats in the car to ensure it’s a positive experience.
Next, repeat this but with the car turned on. Allow your dog to get used to the noise of the engine and even the radio.
Short and Frequent Road Trips
Once your pup is accustomed to your car when it’s in park, start by taking short and frequent trips. This could be just driving down the block and back. It’s also important to drive at a slow speed. Not only is this safe but hopefully this helps avoid any car sickness your dog may have. Taking weekly trips is also a great idea.
Another important tip is to take your dog to enjoyable places, not just to the vet. Visit friends, go to the park, or even the pet store to get a treat or new toy. This will ensure your pup creates a positive association with riding in the car, not just unpleasant memories of going to the vet.
An essential and vital part of getting your dog ready for riding in the car is making sure they are secure and safe in your vehicle. Just like we can suffer injuries in a car crash, so can our pets. You can purchase specially designed car harnesses and doggy seatbelts for your furry friend. It’s also advised that your dog rides in the backseat to minimize distractions. According to the accident attorneys at Haug, Farrar & Franco, PLLC, checking on pets in the car is considered a form of distracted driving, and could prove fatal if a collision occurs. Some other safety precautions you should take include ensuring your dog isn’t riding in direct sunlight and bringing food, water, and a leash on your trip.
Another important thing to mention is never leave your dog alone in the car. In the summer, temperatures can quickly reach fatal levels and in the winter your dog could suffer hypothermia if left alone in your vehicle.
Properly preparing your dog for riding in the car is important to do in order to decrease anxiety and fear and create positive memories and associations with car rides. Make sure to start familiarizing your dog with car trips early on and be consistent with taking them on short and frequent rides. Further, make sure that you take the necessary safety precautions so that your dog is properly secured in your car and so that you are prepared for any type of emergency.