If a family road trip with the dogs to the beach, or to a camping destination is what you long for, you’ll want to make sure that everyone on board is going to cooperate.
Dogs aren’t always the best travel companions. If your dog goes nutz, shakes and stirs when getting in the car, it’s either because they’re excited or because they’re nervous. Excitement has a tendency to die down after a while in the car, especially on road trips, but nervousness and anxiety can last the whole trip.
If your dog is anxious in cars he/she may shake uncontrollably, move around in discomfort or even vomit. If this is the case, your dog has associated the car experience with something negative (usually, a trip to the Vet). The goal we should be focused on, if we want behavior to improve, is to turn the car ride experience into something positive.
To do this:
1st: Make your dog as comfortable as possible. Prepare a space for your dog to rest in the car with a familiar blanket from the house. Pack a to-go doggie bag with his/her favorite toys and treats as well.
2nd: Turn off any music and reduce the amount of loud, and unfamiliar noises in the car. Some dogs even do better when you play soft classical music. 🙂 Crack the windows and let some fresh air in as well. Think of it as if a child, scared of flying, had to ride on a long plane ride for the first time. The experience is very new, so familiarity is important.
3rd: Once the car is comfortable to them and you’ve been on the road for a while, stop and stretch your legs. Your dog will want to get outside for a potty break and appreciate the break. When you return to the car you should start noticing an improvement in your dog’s behavior.
4th: Repeat. Whenever you get a chance, repeat the steps above and take your dog to destinations that they will enjoy. Dog parks, pet stores and dog friendly restaurants across town are a few example destinations that will help your dog become more acclimated to comfort when riding in your car.