Travelling with puppy can be an excellent adventure.
But before you start planning that amazing road trip together (or that drive to the vet’s), remember that a car can be a very strange thing to a puppy. The enclosed space, the movement and even the engine sound can be alarming for a puppy not used to travelling. There are a few things you can do to make car trips easier for your pup. Here are the basics of driving with dogs.
Can puppies travel in the car?
Yes, they can, but different dogs will react differently. While some puppies bound in and out of cars without a care in the world, others find it a little nerve-wracking. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to make travelling with puppy more comfortable.
How to teach a puppy to ride in a car
The sooner dogs experience travel, the better. The more confident they are, the more comfortable and less stressed they’ll be. Ideally, you want your puppy to get used to cars as soon as you bring them home.
How to keep your puppy safe while travelling in the car
Dog car safety is about keeping your puppy protected and looking after the driver and passengers too. Take time to train your puppy to be calm and quiet so they don’t distract the driver or be a nuisance to other people in the car.
Use a dog barrier or harness
If your puppy is riding in the car with you, use a dog barrier or harness to keep your furry friend safely contained. If your only option is to have your puppy sitting on the car seat, make sure they’re wearing a harness. Harnesses are like dog seat belts that come in different sizes and attach to ordinary car safety belts. It can take a bit of getting used to so you might want to try it in the house first, praising your dog for wearing it, before using on your journey.
Head in, not out of the window
It might look like great fun, but if you do it often, they could get an eye irritation or, worse, get injured by something you drive past. They could also slip out of their harness and jump out. It’s fine to open the window a bit so your dog gets plenty of fresh air. On warm days you can use a window guard that lets you open the window more without allowing your dog to jump out.
Hot weather precaution
If the weather’s hot buy shades that attach to the windows to prevent strong sunlight coming in. Window guards and sunshades are great for when you’re moving but even with the windows down and with sunlight protection, cars can heat up very quickly. NEVER leave your dog in the car on warm days, as it can be fatal.
What to do if your puppy is anxious about car travel
If your puppy gets particularly nervous in the car ask your vet about using synthetic pheromones which are available in different formats – including dog bandanas! The scents are believed to be similar to the reassuring pheromones that mom dog emitted naturally when they were a puppy, so it should calm them down and keep them relaxed.
Also provide them with some kind of familiarity in the car to make them less stressed, like s favourite toy or blanket that smells like home. This is especially helpful for young puppies.
Car sickness in puppies
This is very common although some dogs do grow out of it. If your furry friend gets queasy in cars put waterproof sheeting where they sit or lie and always carry lots of paper towels and a cleaning spray in case of puppy motion sickness.
Don’t travel when they’ve got a full stomach. It’s best to hold off feeding your dog two to three hours before you travel as a precaution. Always walk your dog just before you drive off so they’re not anxious about having an accident. If car sickness in puppies is frequent, ask your vet for advice.
Remember, be patient and aim for gradual progress. Soon your puppy will become familiar with the car and know what to expect when they hear the door shut and the engine running - a great journey with a travel companion they love.