Dealing with car sickness in dogs
Does your dog get car sickness? My mother’s new puppy, Leo, gets car sick and he is actually afraid of getting in the car. Did you know that only 5% of doggie car sickness cases is motion related? The majority of car sickness in dogs is usually related to stress or to a bad memory a dog has in relation to a ride in the car. Perhaps the strongest memory of any dog is of their very first car ride when you brought your new puppy home. Your dog may relate car rides with the stress of being taken away from their mother, brothers and sisters or maybe some other traumatic event. This means that rides in a car bring on strong mental and ultimately physical reactions such as vomiting, frothing of the mouth and constant swallowing and licking of the lips.
So how do you solve this problem? The most effective way is to recondition your dog into relating the car rides with enjoyable things! Here’s how:
1. Work out how long your dog is in the car before they get sick. As an example let’s say it takes your dog 15 minutes.
2. Drive to a park that is about 5-10 minutes from your house, preferably one that your dog is familiar with.
3. Have someone else in the car with you so that they can soothe your dog with pats or distractions such as their favourite toy. Keep your pup happy all the way to the park.
4. At the park, do all the things that your dog loves and enjoys like fetching a ball or playing with other doggies. You don’t need to stay at the park long but it must be as fun as possible for your dog.
5. After this, drive your dog home soothing them all the way and when you get home do some more fun and enjoyable things with your dog like you did at the park.
6. Finish the session with their meal or a treat.
Repeat this exercise daily or ideally several times a day if you can. Once the dog is excited to get in the car then you should extend the length of the trip slightly each time. Once you can drive with your dog for 30 minutes with no signs of stress then you have the problem pretty much solved! Some dogs may take a little longer than others so remember to be patient. The aim is for as many happy car rides as possible to increase your dogs association of car rides as something fun!