How To Train Your Dog For Road Trips
Taking your pup with you on a ride across the country sounds like a dream, in theory. However, car rides can sometimes be quite frightening for a dog, especially a puppy. With summer upon us, now is the right time to start training your dog for all the adventures that await you. With some time, patience, and repetition your dog will be cruising the vistas just as well as you can. Happy traveling!
How to Make the Car Appealing to Your Dog
Riding around in a jerky, fast-moving object doesn’t sound great to most pets right off the bat. Just like with any other type of training, you have to sweeten the deal a little bit. When you first get your dog, you’ll want to start taking them in the car with you as soon as possible. The more you take your pup with you, the faster they will get used to riding in the vehicle. Although no dog wants to be scared, so you’ll have to think like someone who’s never been in a car before. Loud noises, music, and quick movements can be truly upsetting for even the largest of dogs.
Before you step foot into the car, create an area just for your dog. Blankets, a bed, toys, food, water, and a buddy should all be inside of the car before your dog gets in. Having another person in the front seat will make your doggy feel much more at ease, especially during the first few rides. Another way to help your dog enjoy the car is to reward them for good behavior. Grab lots of treats and reward them when they are calm and quiet. There’s no such thing as too many treats. Once he/she realizes they get special goodies when they are good in the car, they will always be excited to go on a ride.
Tips While You Are Driving
Even though your pet should never go hungry or thirsty, try not to overfeed them to keep them comfortable. Many animals are prone to motion sickness, and they just can’t hold going to the bathroom as well as humans can. Try to break up your pet’s eating so they only chow down when you do. A good rule of thumb is breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your pup should be able to wait a few hours before another snack, but too many hours and they might get anxious.
Another great tip is to tire out your dog before you start driving. Take some time before you put him/her in the car to romp around the yard and get out all of their wiggles. A dog with pent up energy will not be a happy puppy to be around. This also applies to stops. Take your dog out whenever you get out of the car and let them walk around for a minute. This is a good time for eating, drinking, and a little bit of play when there is time.
Finally, never ever leave your dog in a hot car. It has been proven that a car can heat up 40 degrees in just one hour. Scientists also found that cracking or rolling down the window is not effective at slowing the speed of rising temperatures. Some breeds are more susceptible to hot weather than others. For example, I personally own a Boston Terrier, which is known for overheating. Their short snouts and coats make it almost impossible to wick away heat and moisture. The fact of the matter is, dogs just can’t regulate their temperature like humans can. So, just don’t do it.
Pet Safety in the Car
In some states, it is actually illegal to drive with your dog in the front seat, even if you have them secured in place. Make sure you do your research about the laws of your state as well as the states you will be traveling to. A safe alternative is to create a playpen for your dog in the back of your car. Of course, all pups should have access to food, water, air conditioning, and the restroom. Keep this in mind when making your doggy as comfortable as possible in their “safe space”. Many pet stores sell car seat barriers that will keep your dog away from any dangerous areas of the car.
Lastly, be careful about letting your pup stick their head out of the window. Although, it’s probably okay for a short time, you just never know what could happen. Prolonged exposure to winds can potentially cause lung problems and eye issues. Not to mention, if the window is rolled down a little too far the poor guy/gal could fall out. Make sure to keep an eye on your dog at all times and keep lots of toys in the car for entertainment.
Hotels & Camping Spots
When you’re planning on staying out of town with your dog, check to make sure that the area is pet-friendly first. Many hotels only allow service animals and not just companions. If the establishment does okay your dog for entry, make sure you understand what that means for your dog. If your animal isn’t used to being around other pets, that could be scary and dangerous for them and the other animals at the hotel. If you have some time, it’s worth getting your dog used to other people and animals before going on your trip. Frequently walking your dog and taking it to the dog park will help their anxiety levels when introduced to someone new.
Camping areas are popular among summer road trippers. Yet, many dangerous things are lurking in the trees. No matter how well-trained your dog is, always keep an eye on them when they are outside. Animals should always be kept on a leash for their own safety. It’s always a good idea to be aware of what types of animals are native to your area. It’s not uncommon for wild cats, foxes, wolves, and even bears to check out an interesting campsite. As an added precaution, sprinkling a deterrent or repellent around your camping area could save both you and your pet some unnecessary stress from unwanted intruders.
Taking the time to make your dog comfortable in the car goes a long way towards your happiness and your dog’s. Patience, repetition, and reward are the key to any good training session. If you want a companion that will loyally travel with you no matter where you go, just follow these steps, and you’re sure to have an adventure with your pet that will last a lifetime.