Some pets travel better than others. There are dogs who can’t wait to get in the car and go for a ride. Others spend the whole trip panting and whining, unable to calm down until you reach your destination. This kind of anxiety can be stressful for both you and your pet, but there are some things you can do to make the trip easier.
Spending a long period of time in a small space can be part of the anxiety of travel, especially for active dogs. Before heading out on your trip, take your dog for a walk around the yard or around the block to give him a chance to go to the bathroom and stretch his legs. If your trip is going to be particularly lengthy, try to make the walk a bit longer to compensate. Taking a walk can also help your pet work off some of his energy so that he may be more calm in the car.
Travel in Comfort
There are many ways to make car travel more comfortable for your dog. Simply spreading some soft blankets on the back seat can help make being in the car easier. Special seat covers and in-car dog beds are also available so that your pet can travel in comfort. If you have reason to be especially concerned about your dog’s safety, you may wish to purchase a travel harness that attaches to your car’s seat belts to keep your pet in place. These are useful for small dogs, dogs who are prone to pacing, and in situations where you may have to make sudden unexpected maneuvers while you’re driving.
Know Your Pet’s Personality
Even if you’re already familiar with how your dog handles travel, it’s important to be mindful of the environment of your car as you drive. You may be used to listening to certain music, making phone calls on a headset, or driving in a particular way. However, any of these things may make your dog nervous depending on his personality. Loud noises and sudden stops or swerves may upset your pet, especially if he’s already worked up about having to travel. A good rule of thumb is to drive as if you have a small child as a passenger. Be both mindful and safe when it comes to your driving habits, and it will help keep anxiety to a minimum. Talking quietly to your pet or cracking a window for fresh air can also ease the tension.
Keep It Familiar
Your dog’s anxiety may not end when you arrive at your destination. Pent-up energy from the trip and a variety of other factors can make it difficult for him to calm down. This is when having some familiar things around can be a big help. Bring a toy or two that your dog enjoys playing with, along with his food dishes. If he has a small dog bed or pillow that he’s used to sleeping on, consider bringing that along, as well. These things will give your dog a little bit of home wherever you go, including familiar smells that may help keep him calm. Also consider taking another short walk upon arrival to give your dog a chance to familiarize himself with the new location.
Travel anxiety isn’t unusual for pets. The enclosed space, strange surroundings, and high speed of cars can be disorienting. By being prepared and making a few considerations before you travel, you can make trips easier for both you and your dog.