- Introduce your puppy to the car at an early age, and do lots of short journeys – to fun places. If your dog only ever gets put into the car to go to the vets, he will associate the car with unpleasant experiences (unless he loves going to the vets).
- Some dogs do suffer with motion sickness! You should discuss this with your vet if you think this is the case, as your dog will find it hard to learn new behaviours if he is feeling sick and stressed
- Flicking lights/shadows may affect some dogs, so a window screen may help these dogs settle.
- Make sure your dog is comfortable; a proper travelling crate/carrier ensures your dog is safe too. Some can also be closed to provide shade, but still provide ventilation. Harnesses can also be used if the dog is happy to sit quietly.
Most young dogs get over motion sickness, but some still dislike car travel – even though they no longer actually feel sick. Their behaviour (drooling, shaking, panting, pacing), which may have been in response to feeling uncomfortable and/or fearful may have become entrenched and associated with any car journey – so it is “switched on” every time they are put in a car.
Here are some suggestions for changing these learned behaviours, but if the problem is severe, it is recommended that you work with a qualified behaviourist, who will be able to help you ensure you are rewarding desirable behaviours at the right time, that you are not pushing your dog too far in any training session, and that veterinary advice is sought where necessary.
- Try just sitting in the car with the dog without going anywhere! Play with their favourite toy or give them their favourite treat for giving you calm behaviour. Gradually build up the length of time you do this. If your dog will not even get in the car, then start out by rewarding him for even approaching the car and showing any interest in it.Once your dog is happy to sit in the car try just starting the engine without actually going anywhere.
- The next stage would be to only do short drives – to a favourite walk, so they start to associate the car with that.
- Gradually introduce short trips to the shops, to visit favourite people, or just a drive round the block for the sake of it – so that he/she learns it is not always going to be along drawn out journey.
- Once your dog starts to relax more in the car, occasionally introduce a longer drive – but remember small steps work best!
- Try using DAP spray or a DAP collar (obtainable from most Vets or on the internet) this helps to calm some dogs!
- Try a Thundershirt – a snug fitting coat which calms some anxious dogs..
IF THE BEHAVIOUR IS FEAR BASED AND HAS BEEN PRACTISED BY THE DOG FOR A LONG TIME, HE/SHE IS GOING TO FIND IT DIFFICULT TO OVERCOME HIS/HER FEAR. TIME AND CONSISTENCY WILL BE NEEDED TO TEACH AN ALTERNATIVE BEHAVIOUR, AND DESENSITISE THE DOG.