While many dogs eventually will learn to love the words, "Let's go for a ride," some dogs will hesitate and run the other way. Though a ride in the car is often thought of as a fun activity for dogs, it can be anxiety-inducing for some. With some love, training and patience, a ride in the car can be made more bearable for your buddy. Taking proper safety measures for your dog will ensure a pleasant experience.
When it comes to your dog's anxiety, ask yourself how you react to it and to him. As his caretaker and close companion, your dog takes cues from you, so your own reaction to his anxiety is just as important. In other words, don't coddle or nurture the anxiety-ridden behavior of your dog while in the car. Rewarding the behavior with love and affection may cause your dog to continue the anxious behavior instead of calming down.
Exercise Before Hopping in the Car
If you know you have to take your buddy to the vet later in the afternoon, a brisk walk around the neighborhood before getting in the car might not be a bad idea. This will allow your dog to release some energy and put him into a calmer state after exercising. Once it's time to hit the road, he will be ready to drift off for a nap instead of feeling hypersensitive to everything in his environment.
Take baby steps when it comes to car trips. Take a few minutes each day to simply sit in your car with your dog while it isn't moving and offer him a treat or two. Pet him and relax. After doing this for a week or so, move on to short car trips. Start with a very short car ride -- only to the end of the driveway and right back up. Offer a treat to your buddy before getting out of the car each time. Next, try one time around with the block with your buddy. Once he gets out of the car, reward him with a treat and tell him what a good boy he is. Once you work up to longer car trips, such as 10 to 15 minutes, make sure the destination is a "happy place," such as a park.
Comfortable, Secure Car Rides
When traveling with your dog in the car, keeping him safe is a priority. Your dog should feel safe and secure while in the car as well as comfortable. Use a seat belt designed for your dog or put him in his crate, advises the ASPCA.
By Pamela Miller
About the Author
Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.