For some dogs, travelling in the car is one of the most exciting events of the week. For other dogs however, getting in and travelling in the car can be an unsettling and worrying experience. There are many reasons why a dog may dislike travelling, here are some of the most common:

  • Some dogs may associate the car with unpleasant events (they may have only ever been in the car to go to the vets)
  • They might get travel sick on journeys (it may make them feel unwell even if they don’t vomit)
  • They might not have travelled in a car before
  • The noise of the engine can be frightening (especially for sound sensitive dogs)
  • If not properly secured, dogs can be injured while the car is moving (memory of discomfort)

 

Build it up gradually

Build up a collection of positive experiences involving the car – the more positive experiences a dog has with an object, the better they will feel when they come across it again in future.

Ways to make getting in the car part of playtime and training include:

  • Set a trail of your dogs’ favourite treats leading to and away from the car. Once your dog is happy to eat treats near the car, begin placing the trail through the back doors so the dog is entering and leaving the car as they like (you can keep your dog on lead for this).
  • If your dog loves toys, then you can play fetch near the car with the doors open (be careful not to damage anything!) Once your dog is happy to retrieve the toy near the car try placing the toy into the car for them to go and fetch.
  • You can also try putting a stuffed food toy in the car and see if your dog will settle and eat it in there.
  • Sit inside the car with some tasty treats and encourage your dog to come and sit with you. If they do, feed them a couple of treats and let them leave when they choose to.

 

For dogs that appear to get travel sick you can try giving them travel tablets to alleviate the travel sickness symptoms (medicinal and herbal options are available, your vet will be able to advise what is best for your pet).

Always secure your dog safely before travelling – travel harnesses, dog guards and crates are all suitable options that will keep your dog protected from potential injury during travel. The Highway Code states that when in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.

During longer journeys, don’t forget to offer your dog the opportunity to go to the toilet and have a drink. This reduces discomfort and breaks up long journeys for them.