Does Rover wreck your road trips? An anxious dog can make travelling a pain in the neck. If your furkid is panting, restless or whining, they are anxious. If it’s a one-off event, they might need a toilet stop. An ongoing pattern is usually anxiety-based but, before you cancel all canine-friendly holidays, check out a combination of anxiety dog medication and training to solve it.
Methods To Comfort Your Dog
Does your dog associate your car with trips to the beach, the park or the dreaded vet? If trips have only been to the vet, then Rover will dislike the concept of the car.
As with most training, familiarising puppies with training or new scenarios (like car travel) is the best time to start. Link the travel to positive things like playtime with a toy or a tiny treat like a calming chew or calming bite.
If your Rover is already anxious, there is still hope as you can use a desensitising process. Firstly, don’t rush any training, don’t expect quick results, and be prepared to keep at it for months. Repeat, repeat, repeat and always be calm and gentle. Combine the desensitising process with helpful anxiety dog medication like an organic calming spray, calming chews and an anxiety jacket that makes your pooch feel more grounded and stable.
Desensitising Method Phase 1
With the car in a fully parked position (engine OFF), get into the back of the car (where the dog will sit ‒ never put a dog in the front) and coax your dog up to the car with treats and praise. Avoid a high pitched voice. Use their favourite foods, calming treats and calming snack bites.
Even if they just make it to the door, give them a treat and praise. Don’t force them past their current boundary. Do this many times (on different days/weeks) until they are trotting happily up to the car door to get a treat./p>
For the next sessions, try some calming spray on their fur or rub it into their paws. Your aim is now to get them to put their front feet into the car to stretch to get a treat. Start with praising them at their door attempts and keep trying to coax the front feet in until, one day, the whole dog is in the car. Spray the car interior before these sessions with the calming spray. Note: The car is still not to be started.
After a few ‘whole dog in car’ events, attempt sitting in the driver’s seat and coaxing the dog onto the back seat. Spray the seat with calming spray. Lob a few calming treats and snack bites onto the back seat and praise them. Give them an anxiety dog toy to play with in the car.
Desensitising Method Phase 2
It’s time to switch the car on briefly. Wait for ten seconds, then switch the engine off. Give your pup a treat and praise them. Each time extend the length of time that the engine is on.
If at any stage there is a sign of anxiety (ears back, lip licking, cowering, etc.), turn off the engine, stay calm, give treats and praise them. Go back a step in the training and then try this new level in a slower, less intense way.
Keep building on this ‒ drive into the garage, then reverse down the driveway, then go round the block. Don’t make the first long trip to a vet!
With lots of positive things to excite and uplift the car experience, your Rover will one day be a road trip rockstar!
Click here to read about our top ten picks for the best anxiety dog medication.