Our dogs are fantastic companions and are part of the family so when they are afraid of going in the car or get puppy travel sickness, it’s scary for your dog and disappointing for the rest of the family. Having to remember to take cleaning up equipment is a hassle and actually getting the dog to get into the car can become a big problem when they are determined not to get in. And dogs that pace about, scratch at the crate, pant and salivate heavily can be distracting, annoying and are demonstrating that they are distressed.
It’s best to get your puppy used to the car when he or she is very young by gradually increasing the puppy’s exposure to different aspects of travelling in a vehicle.
Firstly, ALWAYS keep your pet restrained. Don’t be tempted to keep him or her on your knee. This is dangerous for both you and your puppy. If you were to have a road traffic accident, either or both of you could be severely injured and having a loose dog in the car can make accidents more likely.
One of our crash tested crates is ideal as it keeps both your pet safe as well as the rest of your family should the worst happen and you are involved in a collision.
Here are our recommendations for preventing puppy travel in sickness in young dogs:
1. Start off by sitting with your puppy in the area where you would like them to travel with the engine turned off. Give your pup treats, lots of praise and bring their favourite toys. Make the car time a fun time, for just a few minutes at a time.
2. Once your dog is happy and relaxed in his or her space in the vehicle, move so that you are now sitting in the front behind the wheel. Toss treats back when they are quiet and calm. A stuffed kong or other treat-dispensing toy is a great way to help them settle and understand that even though you are not right next to them, they are not alone in a scary place. This will help the puppy to build a positive association with being in the car but away from you.
Remember that giving your puppy attention when he or she is whining, screaming or barking will reinforce the behaviour so try and wait before this has stopped before speaking to them or going back to them. Then next time try and make sure it doesn’t happen by providing a kong filled with a higher value filling or giving them something else that they love and will keep them busy. If you have another dog, then his or her presence will help to keep the puppy calm, so long as the older dog is not an anxious traveller.
Keep your energy positive and bright to give your puppy confidence that there is nothing to worry about.
3. Start to progress the training by starting the engine for a minute or so then turning it off. Try and time this with giving the puppy the kong or a treat so that he learns that when the engine turns on, good things happen, instead of feeling scared of the noise and the strange sensation.
4. Gradually build up more of a typical car journey – start by backing out of the drive then in again, then go round the block, then go short distances. Taking the pup short distances to a place that he or she loves will further build up his or her positive association with the car.
If your dog seems scared at any point, go back a step to the point where he or she was last relaxed and work back through the steps very gradually.
It takes only a week or so to get a puppy used to car travel and avoid puppy travel sickness and it is time well invested for lots of easy car journeys throughout the rest of his or her life.
Invest in a crash tested dog crate
Ideally also invest in a crash tested dog crate that will significantly improve the chances of keeping your family safe in the event of a collision. Our crates are the ONLY crates in the world that are crash tested to the same standards as baby seats. They are designed by some of the world’s leading dog vehicle safety technicians who have examined the data from hundreds of crash tests and accident reports. You wouldn’t put your baby in a cheap crate or harness so don’t do the same with your dog.
Find out more about our dog safety crate options in our shop.