School is out, summertime is in full effect and it’s that time of year for families to make the most of these few months. That means a road trip! This could be a long trip for those travelers who don’t mind a 10-hour car ride or for the shorter day trips which are perfect for beautiful weekends that should not be spent indoors. Either way road trips are always better spent with a travel companion. Your furry friends can make amazing travel buddies if they too enjoy the adventure of a car ride.
Now there are a few of you whose canine companion is already a good rider. If you are that puppy parent, then you’re one lucky owner! As for the rest of us we hope to be able to spend this summer traveling with our four-legged friend but how do you teach an old dog new tricks?
Start by identifying what kind of rider your dog is.
- Does Fido get super excited when he hears the phrase “car ride”? Does he run out the door to the car circling it like he is going to get dizzy and when the door opens he just looks at you as to say “no way I’m not getting in there” and when you help he goes completely boneless?
- Then there is the motion sickness rider who has anxiety anytime the car turns on.
- Maybe you have the dog that does not have a problem getting in the car but instead will bark excessively the entire time you are away from the vehicle.
Either way, once you have identified the issue then you can figure out the best way to help your canine friend travel easier. Here are a few steps that can be used to help your dog learn to love the ride:
First-Ensure your furry pal is in a safe environment before any traveling begins. I once read a suggestion from a trainer that said, “the best way to determine what is best is to ask yourself, would this be healthy and/or safe for a human toddler”. This helps make wiser decisions when it comes to preparation and the overall traveling manners you will want to positively reinforce with your canine.
Utilizing kennels during a long car ride can prove to be safe and secure for man’s best friend. This allows them a safe and familiar place to relax during a ride while keeping the potential for injury low since the opportunity for roaming through the vehicle freely is limited.
Seat belt harness are also a great option when it comes to safer travel options for Fido. You can purchase special doggy seat belts, or you can make a safety belt from just a harness and a locking D shaped ring (diy directions are listed below).
Second-Don’t force a dog into a car if there is the option not too. Now if a canine is injured, in danger or in an emergency situation then action needs to be taken to get the animal to safety. For the average car ride or road trip though, it is highly encouraged for you not to force your furry friend into the vehicle. For the dogs that are anxious or unsure of the circumstances forcing a dog to enter a space that has closed doors and no exit could create lifelong concerns and anxiety surrounding car rides. Instead, do your best to ease your four-legged buddy into the vehicle. This may be a slow process, but it is the most important one. It will be easier if you start your pup early but if you have a more seasoned friend then you can use treats, positive reinforcement and other methods to encourage your canine buddy to become more comfortable with jumping into a car.
Third-Once the dog is in the car make sure to make it a fun and positive experience. Canines pair events with outcomes and this is what helps determine if they want to repeat the action or not. The first few times make sure the ride is fabulous. Go to the dog park, end the trip with a new toy or a special treat. This will make them more excited the next time you say, “want to go for a ride?”. If the first two trips your travel companion takes with you is to the veterinarian for shots or experiences something painful and/or uncomfortable then the next time may be much harder to convince the canine to go for a ride.
Fourth- Exercise your best friend before you travel for a long trip (4+ hours). Allow your dog a good outlet for any travel nervousness or anxiety before the car ride begins. Let your buddy walk and sniff as much as possible before hopping in for a long ride. Dogs experience the world through the nose first so encouraging your four-legged friend to plenty of sniff time will help keep he or she calm for the trip. It is similar to allowing a toddler to wear themselves out before getting in a car seat. If all goes well the child will be sleeping most of the trip. Your dog is like a toddler, allow them a little time to wear themselves out and they will rest during much of the trip offering a relaxing ride and experience for you and your furry friend.
Last but not least– If all else fails contact your veterinarian. They may have some helpful tips regarding natural remedies, best practices, solutions or even benefits of medication. If your dog exhibits pacing, excessive panting/drooling, non-stop barking or uncontrolled vomiting the sooner you get extra help for your furry friend the better.
Summertime should be about adventure and fun. Having your furry friend by your side can make for an amazing trip and create lifelong memories!
DIY Dog Seat Belt for Keeping Fido Safe in the Car
What you will need
- Dog Harness
- Locking D-Shaped Climbing Carabiner
- Put the harness snugly on your dog, and walk him to your car.
- Unclip your leash and clip the carabiner ring to the melt d rings of your dog’s harness.
- Buckle the seat belt behind your dog. Adjust the seat belt so that the lap and chest straps are touching. Slide both the lap and chest belts into the carabiner ring and lock. Adjust the seat belt to remove any slack.
- Your dog is now buckled in. Your dog will be able to move around some just like you can when you wear a seat belt, but in the case of an accident the seat belt’s safety features should kick in and the seat belt should lock.