Many pets get anxious when they have to take a trip in the car. There are a variety of reasons why your furry friend might be less than excited to get in the car with you. Some pets feel claustrophobic in the car, some get motion sickness, and some pets might just be fearful because the car is only used to take them to places they’d rather not be like the vet or groomers. Whatever the case, here are some steps you can follow to help your pet feel more comfortable in the car. Even pets that are generally laid-back and care-free will benefit from these acclimation and coping tips. And remember some pets that may seem to tolerate anything are really just good at dutifully hiding their discomfort from their owners.
1. Make your pet comfortable being by the car. Your pet should be comfortable by the car before you try to take them in a ride in the car. Reward your pet with a treat for simply being by the car. Ignore any negative behavior.
2. Have your pet sit in the car with the engine OFF. Once again, reward your pet for being good while in the car. Do not give any attention to negative behavior.
3. Have your pet sit in the car with the engine ON. As before, acknowledge and reward good behavior while ignoring negative behavior.
4. Drive around the block with your pet. Rewarding positive behavior and ignoring negative behavior.
5. Slowly increase the length of your trips. Remember to reward good behavior and do not pay attention to bad behavior.
6. Keep your window rolled down a little. This will help claustrophobic pets feel more at ease.
7. Use the car for “good” trips too. If you’re only using your car to take your pet to the vet or groomers, they may associate your car as a prelude to go somewhere they don’t like and act anxious as a result. Try driving your pet to the park or go on a short drive around the neighborhood and feed him/her treats after the ride has been completed.
8. For “quick fixes” consider a calming supplement. There are all-natural calming supplement that will ease discontentment in dogs, especially during car trips. For more information on Calming an Anxious Dog, click here.
9. Bring a “touch of home” with you. Familiar things like your pet’s bed or favorite blanket can make them feel more comfortable.
10. Ask your vet for a sedative. This should be used as a last resort to calming your pet.