Scaredy Dog: How To Solve Your Dog's Fear Of Car Rides

  • 24/11/2020
Scaredy Dog How to Solve Your Dog's Fear of Car Rides.jpgSome dogs love nothing more than going for car rides with their family, but others see this activity as the biggest nightmare. In extreme cases, your dog can even fall physical ill from stress caused by car rides. While most people choose to leave their anxious dog at home when taking the car, that’s not always possible since dogs need to go to the vet or the groomer. Neglecting your dog’s fear can leave long-term consequences, but with patient training and planning, you can train them to relax and enjoy the experience. Here are a few tricks that will help solve your dog’s fear of riding in a car.

Create a safe space

Before you introduce your dog to the car, make sure to create a safe space for them to rest. One of the safest ways for a dog to travel is in a crate. This not only protects them in case of an accident but also serves as a dog’s refuge. Make sure to add some comfort to the crate like their favorite blanket. Also, make sure to create a stable surface for the crate to rest on (you can buy a car leveler or roll up some towels and place under the crate). Some dogs also prefer to see outside, while others do best with a light blanket thrown over the crate to block the upsetting views.

Familiarize the dog with the car

Once you have a safe resting spot for your pup, it’s time to get in the car. Many dogs sense that they will be going somewhere which triggers their anxiety even before the engine starts, so make sure to take baby steps. Load your dog in the crate, give them a treat and let them out. Once they are comfortable with getting in and out of the car, start the engine while you’re walking around the car (arm yourself with treats). Next step is to put your dog in the car, start the engine, turn it off and leave the car. When you see your dog is comfortable, you can pull out of the garage and see how your pup reacts. If they are fine, have a short drive followed by a lot of treats and pets. This will create positive associations with the car and make them happy to get in and out. If your dog has an upset stomach, replace food with praise and pets or toys.

Remove triggers

The biggest issue with cars for some dogs is sounds and sights. Some dogs don’t have an issue with sitting in the car, but the traffic passing by gives them anxiety, others just hate the sound of the engine. If loud sounds are the issue, you can invest in variable exhaust mufflers that can change the volume of your exhaust as you wish. When you’re riding with your pup, you can tone it down, and when you’re riding alone, you can allow that engine to purr as loudly as you want. Every time your dog sees or hears something that frightens them, offer a reward and praise.

Go on a pre-trip walk

Exercise is a great way to increase serotonin and decrease stress, so make sure to go on a short walk 10-20 minutes before a car ride. This will make the trip much more tolerable for the pup.

Try some calming strategies

There are dog-appeasing pheromone sprays that can calm your pup, so make sure to spray some in their crate. Additionally, you can play some calming music. For instance, Through a Dog’s Ear: Driving Edition is music specially composed for dogs to keep them calm yet alert.

Have a fun day organized

Many dogs don’t like car rides because they fear the destination, especially if you only use the car to go to the vet’s or groomer’s. To make things less stressful, you can organize a fun day out and drive to the nearest park for some Frisbee. Or you can hit a local hiking trail with your pup’s best doggy friends.

Talk to your vet

If your dog has extreme car anxiety and motion sickness, you might want to seek veterinary help. You can vet can give you plenty of advice and even include some medication in your dog’s training.

If you have patience and understanding, your dog will definitely grow to love car rides thanks to these tips. Positive reinforcement is the key, so remember to give lots of treats, kind words and pets.

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