Car rides are an unavoidable part of owning a dog. You have to take your dog to the vet, drive to the dog park, and be able to herd your dog into the car at a moment’s notice. While many dogs love car rides, many can get car sick or suffer from anxiety. Even those who love car trips can have their own problems if they jump around, bark, or are too small to get in the car on their own. What can you do to make a car trip more enjoyable and safer for your best pal?
If car sickness or barking is a problem, there are a few things you can do. Talk to your vet about anti-nausea medication and try not to feed your dog right before taking a trip. Sometimes sickness can be induced by discomfort and anxiety. Providing your dog with some of the comforts of home might make a trip more enjoyable for your dog. Dogs can bark if they are confused, upset, or bored. This can be cured by giving your dog something to keep busy with such as a toy or a chewy treat. Nylabones and Kong toys are common options for keeping a dog busy for long trips but be sure to lay down a towel, or you run the risk of getting drool everywhere. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to lay down a towel to help pick up messes if they occur. Paper towels, wipes, and washcloths can be kept in the car for clean up when needed. We all know you love your music, but your dog probably doesn’t. Your dog’s hearing is much better than your own, so playing at more than a medium volume will actually hurt your dog’s ears.
As far as safety goes, there are a few things you should consider. While it might be cute for your dog to sit on your lap or in the passenger’s seat, it can interfere with your driving if you are distracted. It can also be dangerous for your dog, if you make a sharp turn or if you get into an accident. Yes, it can be scary to think about, but it should be something to consider. We have seatbelts for this very reason. What can you do to keep your dog safe? There are leashes that hook to your dog’s collar or harness and connect to a car’s seatbelt buckle. Even if you don’t want to invest in this, restraining your dog in some manner will help keep you distraction-free and your dog from moving about the vehicle. Make sure the leash is long enough to let your dog lie down and turn around, but not long enough to move from the back seat to the front seat or to get tangle. Focusing on the road is one of the best things you can do to keep your dog safe. Texting, talking, or being otherwise engaged can put you at a greater risk of an accident, putting your dog in danger. Stay alert and remember it’s not just your life at risk in these situations.
Dogs can be wonderful car companions. They love driving with the windows down, won’t complain about the type of music you listen to (at a respectable volume), and are always down for the drive-through. They won’t be back seat drivers and will listen patiently as you yell at the person who didn’t use a blinker. Pay them back by keeping them safe and alleviating some of the anxiety car rides can cause.