Do you have a dog that absolutely hates to go on car trips? Maybe they associate the ride with going to the vet, or, if they’re a shelter dog, worries that you're going to drive away without them. Traveling with your pet, however, doesn't have to be a nightmare. It might take a little preparation, but you can help your dog learn to love riding in the car with you.
Ride Together Often
If you know that your dog doesn't like riding in the car, give them more opportunities to develop a positive association with the process. Hop in the car together and go for a drive to the park together. Visit a pet-friendly pet store. Go to places that you know your dog will enjoy. If you don't have a destination in mind, a short trip around the block and a quick return home will help convince your dog that riding in the car isn't as bad as they thought.
Even if you're just going on a short trip, you want to know that you've packed with your dog in mind. Take along a water bowl and water bottle, your pet's leash, and plastic bags in case your pet does their business while you're out. If your pet is anxious about the car ride, consider including a favorite comfort object; a blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal that smells and feels like home can make your dog much more comfortable. Also, if you have a large dog who will be riding in the cargo area, or you're hoping to protect your seats from unwanted dog hair, consider putting down a mat or blanket for your pet.
You would never dream of transporting a child without restraining them properly. You might not even be willing to start your car if the adults in it aren't wearing a seat belt. Offer your pet the same safe consideration. Whether you purchase a specific seat or harness for the purpose of transporting your pet in the car or choose to place your pet in their crate while they're in the car, make sure that you're putting your pet's safety first. Any time you're on a car trip, no matter how short, you should make sure that your dog is safe and protected. Also, make sure that your car is ready for your pet to go for a ride. Turn off power windows so that your dog can't accidentally roll one down. Remove anything that can't be chewed on or that your dog shouldn't eat. Do you have a chocolate bar stuffed underneath the seat where they'll be riding? A box of raisins that a child left sitting out? All of these things should be cleaned out before you put your dog in the car.
Think It Through
When you're traveling with your dog, you naturally assume that he'll be just as well-behaved as he is at home. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Many dogs will take off running after they've been let out of the car, and they might not always come back when you call. To prevent this, make sure that you clip on your dog's leash or harness before you take them out of the car. Have a firm grip on it, especially if you have a large dog! You shouldn't leave your pet unattended in the car, but if you need a moment to arrange things—putting out a food or water bowl, for example, or making sure that another dog and owner have had time to clear the area—then it's acceptable to leave your dog in the car for a few minutes as long as you're close.
Traveling with your pet doesn't have to be a headache. As long as you prepare ahead of time, it can be a wonderful experience for both you and your dog.