Just as some people get nervous when boarding a train or a plane, our dogs may be experiencing the same feeling. Some dogs will show resistance when you try to get them into the car, whine the whole time.
As the owner or handler, it is your responsibility to figure out the reason behind such behavior, and train your dog accordingly.
Sick and tired
It is not uncommon for dogs to be wary of traveling because they get sick. They may be feeling nauseous, and sometimes vomit in the car.
If riding in cars makes your dog feel queasy and unwell, car rides may not be the most exciting activity.
Typically, sights, sounds, and smells are exciting for dogs. However, the smell of a car or the sound of the engine may be unfamiliar with your dog.
Dogs do not appreciate unpredictable movements, so scenes whizzing by may be frightening for your pet.
Other than car sickness and unfamiliarity, your dog may be afraid of cars, and rides may be frightening.
Car terror can lead to long-term effects if you do not intervene at the early stages. Some dogs will get anxious just by seeing the car, without the engine running.
To help your dog get over car anxiety, start by breaking down a car ride. First, get your dog into the car and into their area, and reward them for cooperation. Let them out. When your dog can comfortably get into the car, you can try to run the engine.
Do this when the dog is around, but not inside.
If your dog can bear to be around car noises, you can get them into the car and start the engine. If your dog is exhibiting signs of anxiety, immediately turn off the engine and reward them.
Once they are comfortable, try to pull out of the driveway and return. If your dog seems okay, you can try to drive around the block.
Ensure to reward your dog with every activity. Not only will it alleviate their anxiety, but it reinforces the idea that cars are associated with treats and rewards.
Associate rides with fun destinations
If your dog has a problem with car rides, then going anywhere they do not like may seem like an absolute nightmare. Your dog’s dislike for car rides may be stemming from the dislike of the destinations linking car rides.
It may be places like a grooming facility or the vets’ office. Thus, it would be of great help if your dog can associate car rides with fun adventures such as the dog park or a hiking trail.
Make the ride comfortable
There are several things you can do to make the car ride a little less uncomfortable. For example, depressurize the vehicle by lowering the windows.
Use a face harness to ensure that your dog faces forward when the car is in motion. By looking sideways or backward, they will notice the scenery moving in the wrong direction. Such situations will trigger motion sickness.
Please wait a while after feeding your dog before you can get them into the car.
If your dog is a rescue from the shelter, there is a probability of past traumatic experiences involving cars. Car phobia can be triggered by abandonment issues, or trips to unfamiliar places, such as new homes.
If your dog has an experience of being hit or injured by a car, or they are victims of a car accident, they may be car-phobic.
If notice that your dog is hesitant towards car rides, do not be aggressive or compelling. Please do not yell at your dog or force them to approach a car. Instead, you can try to lure them with their favorite treats or toys. You will require a lot of patience with severe cases of car phobia.
Focus on comfort
Creating comfort and familiarity within the car will help to alleviate your dog’s anxieties or phobia. Put a favorite toy or blanket in their seat or carrier.
If your car is creating size or physical hindrances that make accessing the car problematic, help out. If your dog is small, you can carry him into the car. For larger, heavier dogs, try putting up a ramp or use portable steps so they can easily and quickly climb in.
Furthermore, if it during the hot season provide cool air and ventilation while colder seasons will demand warmer conditions. If your dog travels in a crate or carrier, there will be a limit on circulation.
If your dog has a severe car phobia problem, it may take a lot longer to train them. During this while, car rides may be miserable and unpleasant for everyone.
To prevent this, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety or motion sickness medication. Some people will prefer to knock-out their dog during drives, but that depends on you.
For the sake of safety, do not take medication advice from friends, or try to medicate your dog on your own.
Exercise is a great way of reducing stress and calming an anxious brain. Take your dog out for a walk or engage them in their favorite activities a few minutes before you take a car ride.
Whenever your dog shows signs of car sickness pull over and let your dog out until they feel better.
Try spraying dog pheromones in the car before traveling. They are available in as diffusers, collars, and sprays. They mimic the odor of a nursing dog, and they are effective enough to relax an adult dog.
Teach your dog adaptive behavior
Sometimes, car phobia is not a big deal, and basic training may solve the issue with a few sessions. Other than conditioning your dog to like car rides, you can train then to tackle their fear.
The “paws up” is a common technique that is proving to be effective in treating car phobia in dogs. Train your dog to put their paws up, and then jump onto something.
This exercise creates a new task for your dog to master while strengthening the bond between the two of you.