Road trips with your fur buddy present the perfect opportunity for exploring the great outdoors together and having some fun, quality bonding time.
But it can be an equally tiring and stressful experience if your dog gets anxious about traveling and runs at the sight of your car.
Signs that your dog is anxious
Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat when they’re overcome with anxiety. So it can be difficult to tell when your buddy is freaking out. Some common signs of discomfort your dog will exhibit are panting, excessive drooling, shaking, and pacing.
It’s important to learn to recognize these signs so you can address them quickly and ensure that your pet feels comfortable and has a good time with you wherever you go.
6 tips to ease your dog’s travel anxiety
1. Practice beforehand
If your dog has never been in a car before or has only been in it to go to the vet, then it’s vital that you first condition them to view the car as a safe and welcoming place.
Encourage them to sit inside the car with you and go on short trips to get them used to the idea and sensation of a moving vehicle. This will also reduce bouts of motion sickness on the actual trip. Provide positive reinforcement by giving them lots of praises, belly rubs, and yummy treats to let them know that they’re doing a good job.
2. Tire them out pre-trip
Dogs tend to fidget a lot when they get anxious, so it’s best to get them exhausted prior to the trip by taking them on a long walk or playing with them for a while.
This can help them get rid of excess energy and stay calm during the ride. Who knows, maybe they’ll even feel inclined to take a peaceful nap after all the running around.
3. Create a comfortable space
Staying cooped up inside a car is as uncomfortable for dogs as it is for humans. But you can make it a tad easier for your buddy by getting a comfortable bed or a dog hammock. You can also put their favorite blanket and one of your old t-shirts next to it so it smells familiar.
It’s important to make sure your dog is safe as well as comfortable so investing in a quality doggy seatbelt will keep them protected and keep you from worrying about them.
After ensuring your dog is comfortable and securely strapped in, you can partially crack open the windows so your dog can enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. As long as music doesn’t increase your dog’s anxiety, consider turning on some soothing music to create a relaxing atmosphere.
4. Bring along their favorite toys
Our fur babies aren’t the best when it comes to dealing with new stimuli and change. Being in unfamiliar surroundings would cause most dogs to become nervous and upset. But having things they’re familiar with, such as their favorite toys, can help alleviate their anxiety to an extent.
You can keep them distracted with some interactive toys like a small sniffing mat or a kong toy filled with their favorite treats so that they’re too occupied to focus on anything else.
5. Try calming sprays and collars
Calming sprays and collars contain special scents called pheromones which are naturally secreted by mother dogs while nursing. They can help your dog feel a sense of security and become less anxious as a result.
Alternatively, you could also try supplements and medications that are specially designed for dealing with fear and anxiety. Your vet will be able to assess the situation better and offer a suitable solution with a prescription or an over-the-counter option.
6. Consider a companion
If you’re traveling solo with an anxious dog, it can become dangerous because you won’t be able to simultaneously comfort your pet and drive. Besides, if you have to take a rest stop and have to leave your bud alone in the car for some time, they might get separation anxiety, which will only sour the experience further for them.
In this case, you should consider bringing along a friend or a family member so your pet doesn’t feel alone in the backseat and has someone to reassure them when they start getting agitated and let them know that they’re safe.
Create wonderful memories!
Road trips are best enjoyed with your best friend and it can be an enriching experience for both of you if you prepare well in advance. By patiently working through your dog’s fears and anxieties, and being persistent in your efforts, you can have a memorable trip that will always bring a smile to your face.
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