If your dog hates riding in a car, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you won’t enjoy the ride either. He may be feeling ill, he may be unsure of what to do inside the vehicle, or he may not be used to the motion. Whatever the case, there are steps you can take as a dog owner to make him feel safer and perhaps even happy during a car ride. To that end, check out the following surefire ways to help your dog enjoy car rides.
1. Turn Mealtime into Car Time
One of the best ways of helping your dog to warm up to the idea of a car ride is to turn a mealtime into car time. For frightened pups, you can set the bowl next to your car (just be sure to keep him secure so he won’t run out into the street). Once your pet is used to the setup, he can be taught to feed in the parked car’s backseat with its door open.
Also, you can consider throwing treats in the car’s open door so that your pet will find them. Soon, he should also feel comfortable enough to play games near your car, eventually recognizing it as a place to learn and discover new things. Finally, keep increasing travel time and go to places your dog enjoys, making sure the trips are positive and upbeat.
2. Put Your Dog's Safety First
A big part of making sure your dog is secure inside your car includes following traffic rules related to pet safety. For example, you may want to make use of a barrier between the boot and the passenger area, such as a dog carrier or a special belt. And of course, you should never have a dog ride along in a truck bed or trailer.
At the end of the day, safety is your top priority for your four-legged friend. Plus, you can avoid potentially violating traffic laws and paying a fine.
3. Find Locations to Take Breaks
Know that long road trips are straining and stressful for your pet. Taking short breaks can help him relax and have a chance to play and run. Before leaving, you may want to look for dog-friendly rest areas or forest trails where your pup can go out, stretch, play and run.
4. Plan A Pet-Friendly Route
Arrange a visit to one or two rewarding places or destinations. As mentioned earlier, your dog might be too scared because of the bad experiences that he had during previous car rides.
To make him feel comfortable, help alleviate his stress. Help him gain positive car ride experiences to build up his familiarity and confidence.
Take him to places he will associate with fun and happiness. Drive him to a hiking trail where he could go for a long walk with you or to a nearby park to play fetch. You can also take him to a canine park where he could play with other dogs.
5. Crate Training in the Car
You should also create a safe area for your pet in the car to protect him from an accident. It would be a good idea to confine your puppy and crate train him while in the car. Doing so will also prevent danger both for the driver and the pet. You may also want to invest in a car barrier, kennel, or special seat belt.
At the end of the day, training your dog to like a car ride is all about making him feel comfortable, so that he can enjoy the trip. Whether it’s a trip to the grooming station, the vet, or anywhere you need or want to take him, make sure he feels safe inside the car and help him associate the journey with a positive experience. For more guidance and information on how to train your dog to enjoy a car ride, consider taking him to a canine behavioral specialist or a veterinary hospital.