When you’ve just bought a puppy or rescued a dog from a shelter, you may be worried about how you’re going to get them to adapt to your everyday lifestyle. One of the main concerns that many dog owners face is how to make their dog feel comfortable traveling in the car. While it is a great feeling to be able to take your four-legged friend with you on exciting adventures, an unsettled dog can become a stressful experience for both of you.
Getting your dog to stay calm in the car may seem like an impossible task, but with a few tips, you can make the experience far more relaxed. Here are some of the best tips to keep your dog calm while traveling.
1. Try shorter trips first
If your dog isn’t used to confined spaces, they’re bound to freak out at first. Therefore, taking them on long road trips immediately wouldn’t be the best idea. You need to allow them to get used to their surroundings and understand that nothing bad is going to happen to them. The limited space and lack of movement can cause stress in your dog, so start off with shorter trips first before tackling longer journeys.
2. Bring treats
One of the best ways to get your dog to calm down is to bring along some treats to reward their good behavior. Once they start to settle down, praise them by using a high-pitched tone of voice and follow this with a treat. Over time, they will start to associate these actions with good behavior, and you may start to notice how quickly they calm down when traveling in the car. If your dog has very high-stress levels, you could buy some special calming treats for dogs that reduce anxiety in your pet with a very gentle calming ingredient. These treats have been found to manage behavior such as excessive barking and chewing, as well as a loss of focus and generalized anxiety disorder.
3. Rest stops
Make sure you plan out your trip beforehand and make a note of locations where you can stop to give your dog a rest. This gives you the opportunity to walk them, allow them to go to the bathroom and top up their water bowl to keep them hydrated and ease any further distress. If you are off on a long journey and need to stay overnight, research pet-friendly hotels beforehand.
In the summer months, your dog may become overheated. Always be aware of the temperature in the car if you notice it’s getting a little warm. Your dog’s temperature will escalate much quicker if they’re traveling in a crate, than if they were on the seat or in the footwell. In the winter months, make sure your dog is kept cozy and warm by turning on the heater and laying down some soft blankets to lie on. When your dog is either too hot or too cold, it will certainly play a part in their anxiety levels.