One doggy question asked loads by concerned clients these days is “My dog hates going in our car yet we’d love to take him with us now that the good weather’s arrived. How can I stop him hating the car and treat his car-sickness?”
Now it could simply be that he’s just sick because of his actual fear of cars. Like with humans, vomiting can well be a reaction to fear, and most dogs simply don’t understand the purpose of the car – the big smelly tin-box which shakes and bumps along.
I often wonder what they must be thinking. Like most people, dogs are frightened of what they don’t know. I mentioned smell because a dog has a far greater sense of smell than us humans. So try to get your dog to associate your car with pleasure. Encourage him to sit in the car when stationary. Maybe even feeding him his regular meals actually in there?
Once dogs associate the car with food you’ll be well on the way to success! Better still, invite your dog to sleep in your vehicle, making him comfortable with his own box and blanket, and allowing plenty of fresh air in (but not with windows too far open so he can get out). Now he is starting to think the car is his house, he starts to like it…a place to eat, a place to sleep…Great!
Once your four-legged is used to your four-door, then start the engine and leave it running for a few minutes each day. He thinks it is a strange sensation but it doesn’t hurt him.
The next stage is a short run, say a mile or two, but make sure at the end of that short run there’s something enjoyable like a walk; then return home having a favourite treat ready. Once your dog associates the car with pleasure and not fear, you will have conquered the problem. Dogs have associative memories, and they rarely reason as we humans do…or are supposed to do.
If you’re dog is happy, yet still suffers from travel-sickness, then try feeding them a ginger biscuit on an empty stomach – it’s a great cure for nausea. Please remember also that dogs should always travel in the back with a wire partition between the dog and driver, or please employ a specially designed car-harness.