How to Make Traveling More Comfortable for Your Dog
If you have a poor traveler it can make road trips rotten for you but can also distract your attention from the road. Anxious dogs, old dogs, puppies and dogs with pain or balance issues can all struggle with being in a car but there are many things you can do to help him feel safe and secure.
Here are 10 simple things to try:
1. Where in the car your dog travels is important for his comfort and safety. The safest and most stable place, in terms of limited sideways movement, is the back seat or middle of the car. Here your dog is out of the crumble zone if you are rear-ended or if he gets motion sick he will suffer less due to the relative stability.
2. Most dogs, like people with motion sickness, feel better facing forward or backward whilst traveling. Orientate your dog’s crate so this can happen or ensure the back seat is wide enough by filling in the gap behind the front seats. The seats are normally too narrow for our canine passengers to rest facing forward and they can also feel worried about falling off into the foot well.
3. If your dog is noise sensitive check for sounds that could be upsetting like car reversing sensors, wind through bars on the roof, the noise of the air conditioning etc.
4. Make sure any bedding or car seat covers are non-slip. If your dog can’t balance well on stationary ground, imagine the difficulty he will have if the bed or car seat cover you ask him to travel on slips underneath him when the car takes a corner or you stop abruptly.
5. Your dog needs to be restrained to whatever legal requirements your country states. Often these means a car harness but these need to be fitted so your dog can still move to settle himself. Car harnesses and seat belt straps should allow him to comfortably settle in the position he needs and also allow him to turn around.
6. Remove air fresheners from your car. What smells nice to you will be overpowering for your dog.
7. Crack a window before closing the final door. Cars are so well built now that the pressure can be uncomfortable for his highly sensitive ears.
8. If your car picks up a lot of static, try a static strip to see if this helps. They are relatively cheap and easy to fix.
9. For dogs reactive to movement outside the car or scared of things you pass, try to soften or block his view. Cover the crate or use sunscreens or window socks to limit visual input.
10. Check your driving skills and behaviour. Could you drive smoother around corners, brake less abruptly at stop signs? How about your emotional state? Don’t shout at other road users or get annoyed, your dog will pick up on this and become upset.
If these 10 tips have made you think about how you can improve yourdog’s traveling experience but you want to know more, Toni Shelbourne and Karen Bush’s book HELP! My Dog does not Travel well in the Car is available from Amazon in paperback and kindle.
Animal Behaviourist, Tellington TTouch Practitioner, Real Dog Yoga Instructor & Author
Toni has worked with domesticated and wild canids since 1989. After a long and successful career with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, she started her own business as a Tellington TTouch Companion Animal Practitioner. She is now one of the highest qualified Practitioners in the UK.
In 2001 her skills in TTouch took Toni to the UK Wolf Conservation Trust were she meet a pack of socialised wolves. She went on to work with them for over a decade as a Senior Wolf Handler and Education Officer for the organisation. In more recent years, Toni has gone on to become a Real Dog Yoga Instructor, (Visit www.therealdogyoga.co.uk to find out more) and updated her qualifications in behaviour with the International School of Psychology and Behaviour, for which she is also an affiliate. She is now a full member of The Association of INTO Dogs as a certified canine behaviourist. She teaches all over the UK and abroad, works with clients' one to one, and writes. Toni lives in Oxfordshire, England with her husband and their dog MrP.
In more recent years, Toni has gone on to become a Real Dog Yoga Instructor, (Visit www.therealdogyoga.co.uk to find out more) and updated her qualifications in behaviour with the International School of Psychology and Behaviour, for which she is also an affiliate. She is now a full member of The Association of INTO Dogs as a certified canine behaviourist. She teaches all over the UK and abroad, works with clients' one to one, and writes. Toni lives in Oxfordshire, England with her husband and their dog MrP.
Over the last two decades, Toni has been developing her writing. She spent two years editing and writing features for Wolf Print, the UK Wolf Conservation Trust's international magazine. She went on to write for national dog magazines, rescue society newsletters and blogs. Her first and second book, The Truth about Wolves & Dogs, (Hubble and Hattie 2012) and Among the Wolves (Hubble and Hattie 2015) have been a great success. Her latest writing collaboration with co-author Karen Bush sees a series of books entitled HELP! My Dog is…. Titles include, HELP! My Dog's Scared of Fireworks, HELP! My Dog doesn't Travel Well in the Car, HELP! My Dog is Destroying the Garden and HELP! My Dog has a Canine Compulsive Disorder. All are available in paperback and eBook format on Amazon. Toni and Karen have many more titles planned under the banner of Skinny Dog Books – named as they both own sighthounds and the books are small and concise.