At Just Dogs we are often asked for help with dogs that do not travel well. It is important to understand whether this is being created by general car sickness (i.e. motion sickness) or by the stress of travelling.
This article from the wonderful Clicker Training.com website from Karen Pryor offers an extremely useful step by step guide about how to ease your dogs stress brought on by travelling.
Motion Sickness - If it is motion sickness we recommend crating your dog or using a car harness to minimise the amount your dog is moving around. We would also suggest trying either Travel Sickness Tablets or a piece of ginger or a ginger biscuit. Ginger is known to help alleviate motion sickness and a number of our customers use this method sucessfully to help manage their dogs difficulties in the car. Some customers have reported that using the tablets/ginger to start with has allowed them to gradually wean their dogs off them to a complete cure. Others say that without the tablets their dogs can still become sick. One of our customers uses the tablets for long journeys only.
Stress in the car - Car Sickness can sometimes be associated with stress and anxiety linked to travelling. In these instances the quick fix of the Travel Sickness Tablets will not work. A longer term approach is likely to be required to help your dog feel more comfortable when travelling. We always recommend that when introducing a new dog to the household that regular trips in the car to good places and with lots of positive reinforcement with treats etc is important to help avoid longer term problems with travelling. If your dog is very anxious build up the steps for travelling very slowly. Start with praising and rewarding your dog when near the car. When they are relaxed with this stage then the next time build up to letting them jump in and out of the car without starting the engine, again with lots of praise and rewards. Following this step move on to starting the engine but not moving. When you do start to go out make sure it is a short journey and to somewhere the dog will enjoy. Don't move onto the new stage until you are certain your dog is relaxed and happy with the step before and always remember frequent rewards should be given - this is not a quick fix and generally can't be achieved in one day! If you need further assistance we would recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified dog behaviourist.
Remember these important points:
- Ideally don't feed your dog for at least a couple of hours prior to travelling
- Avoid loud music when the dog is in the car to reduce adding to possible stress
- Be aware of how you are driving (going round bends fast is likely to stress your dog and increase chances of nausea).
- Set your dog up for success - lots of rewards for relaxed behaviour and don't try to progress through the training too quickly!
The picture above is of one of the Just Dogs Pups Max - as you can see he is happy in the car - in fact he is keen to have a go at driving himself!
Copyright Note - We are happy for these articles to be shared but would ask that these are credited to us as it has taken us a long time to pull together all this information and research and it is our own wording so we would be upset to see this being reproduced without the appropriate credit.