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Safety and Training Tips for Taking Your Dog for a Ride in the Car

My dog Pierson Wearing Seat Belt Riding in the Car
Helping Your Dog Ride Comfortably and Safely in the Car

Many dogs love to ride in the car. You see them often with their noses to the wind and a happy doggy grin on their faces. So you know dogs can enjoy a car ride but perhaps you are not sure how to get your furry pal to enjoy it too. Or maybe he enjoys riding in the vehicle but misbehaves and causes dangerous distractions, making a trip to the vet or a family vacation difficult. So whether you have a puppy or an older dog, here are a few tips to help overcome or avoid those challenges.

If your pet has never been in the vehicle or has problems with getting car sick, do not give him anything to eat for an hour or two before the ride. And don’t allow him to drink excessively. Allow him to take a potty break just before the drive. This may help prevent any accidents for those dogs who tend to get overly excited or frightened during the trip.

It is recommended for any pet who rides in the car to be secured in some way. There are many great pet travel products out on the market made just for the safety of your furry traveling companions including dog car seat belts, canine car seats, pet travel carriers, and auto barriers. Before taking your best friend for a ride, it is a good idea to get him used to the safety product you are going to use. A seat belt for dogs can generally also be used as a harness for walking. Use the harness for this purpose as much as possible. You can even allow the dog to wear it around the house while under your supervision. If you are going to use a canine car seat, allow your pet to use it as a bed first. For dogs who are going to ride in a pet travel crate, try crate training them first. Once the crate becomes a second home for your pet, putting him in the carrier during a car ride will be much less stressful for him.

A Pet Travel Restraint Such as Seat Belt or Carrier Provides Safety

Once your furry pal is used to the travel safety device, start taking him on short trips. Go someplace fun like the park or the pet store. By taking him somewhere he will enjoy, he will quickly learn to associate a car ride with these special places. You can also take your pet with you to visit a friend or even to a bank or fast-food drive-through. Never take your best pal someplace where you will have to leave him unattended in the vehicle. The inside of a car is not safe for a pet, even if it is not hot outside or the windows are rolled down. Not only are there weather dangers, but it could also cause your pet to get lonely, anxious, or nervous. If your furry pal already fears a car ride, leaving him alone in it is not going to help. And another thing you have to worry about is someone teasing or even stealing your dog while you are shopping.

* Give Him a Familiar Object - If your pet tends to be nervous during a car ride, try bringing his favorite toy or blanket. If he's wearing a seat belt or secured in a carrier, he can still rest on his own bed. The familiarity of these items may help him deal with the unfamiliarity of the vehicle.
* Talk to Your Dog - Try talking to him in a soothing voice while you drive. This may help calm them. However, every dog is different. Some may get more excited by the sound of your voice, in which case you should ignore him. Try both talking and silence to see which works best for your pet. Try not to scold him. Positive reinforcement is the best way to make the ride enjoyable. Do not let your talking distract you from your driving. It is also recommended that you do not pet your furry pal while you drive. Not only can this distract you from the road, it may also encourage him to pester you for more attention. And no matter how tempting it might be, you should not allow him to ride in the front seat. Most vehicles are equipped with passenger-side airbags and airbags are not safe for animals. Airbags are made for adult people, not children or pets. If you are able, have someone your furry pal knows and loves sit in the back seat next to him in order to provide extra comfort.
* Play Music - Try playing the radio. Soothing music may have a calming effect on some animals. But most importantly, the sound of music will help cover the loud and unfamiliar sounds of the road. A passing semi, for example, may be a familiar sound to us, but the rumbling of these big trucks can be terrifying for a dog that has never heard them before.
* Open a Window - Even if the loud sounds of the road are a problem for your pet, open one of the windows near them. This will provide a distraction of new and interesting smells. Most dogs seem to love this aspect of car rides. Please note, he should not be able to stick his head out the window while using a restraint, but he should still be able to catch those exciting scents.

All in all, try to make the ride as pleasant as possible. Make him comfortable and take him someplace he will enjoy. Play music and open a window to distract him from the scarier aspects of the road. And if possible, have someone sit in the back seat next to or near him so that they can provide extra comfort. Some dogs will take to the car right away while others will take more time and patience. Just keep working with him and the next time you plan a long road trip, you and your dog will be much more content.

Your dog can learn car rides are fun.
Keep him safe and comfortable on your next trip.

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