Desensitizing or counter-conditioning your dog to car travel may take some work, but it can be accomplished. Helping your dog overcome the stress and anxiety of travel will mean that he can accompany you on trips more frequently and will allow you to spend more time together.
The best way to ease your dog’s travel anxiety is by taking several short trips before embarking on a long haul. Here are additional tips to make your dog’s travel more enjoyable and reduce motion sickness:
- Withhold food 12 hours before travel. An empty stomach will help reduce nausea and the need for frequent potty breaks that are often unwelcome, especially during long car rides or airplane or train travel. Be sure to provide access to fresh water whenever possible. Water bottles that hang on the carrier’s door are a good option for many pets.
- Use a carrier or dog safety harness. Anxious dogs can both hurt themselves and cause accidents. A carrier is often viewed as a “safe place” for many dogs.
- Keep the car cool and quiet. Play soft classical music and keep the temperature cool.
- Include the sweet smell of home. Add a t-shirt or blanket with your scent to your dog’s carrier. In addition to smelling like home, nothing is cozier than mom or dad’s shirt.
- Offer special trip toys. Giving your dog new toys that he only gets to play with when he travels can help him associate travel with fun.
Traveling in a confined space in a motor vehicle can be frightening for a dog and requires time to adjust.