Does your dog hate riding in your car? How can you tell?
Well, if Fido is a big fan of the open road, he’ll jump right in when you’re ready to ride. If your pup shows hesitation, anxiousness, or gets car sick in your Subaru, chances are he’s just not that into it.
Car rides are a common dog phobia. Being jostled around in a moving vehicle can be jarring for pets—and their negative reaction to hating the car can be distracting, and a potentially unsafe, for the driver. Want to help your dog overcome the fear of riding in cars? The key is patience and a lot of positive reinforcement. Here are a few tips to get started.
6 Tips for Lowering Your Dog’s Anxiety During a Car Ride
1. Use positive reinforcement to lure your dog inside.
Even the thought of riding in your Subaru can be triggering for your dog—especially if they’ve previously had a bad experience with cars. What you can do to reverse this is to associate the car with positive things. For example, your pup may be less anxious if you distract them with a stuffed treat toy. Do this every time you go on car rides—eventually Fido will associate car rides with the stuffed treat toy and his anxiety will calm.
2. Have a special bonding time before starting the engine.
Don’t just jump in the car and go. If this is your dog’s first car ride, let them get acclimated first. Loading your dog in the car, give him a tasty treat, and let him feel out the area. Then, let him out of the car immediately. This will help him understand that the car isn’t a kennel and that he will be returning home soon. Next, put him back in the car and start the engine; if he seems calm, give him another treat.
3. Start with small trips and work your way up.
Need to run an errand across town? Load up your pup and start with a small trip like this. Give him treats as the trip progresses to remind him he’s a ‘good boy’. Gradually work your way up to longer distances, like driving up to Mount Rainier National Park for an afternoon hike.
4. Take your dog to fun destinations.
Dogs are kind of like children. They love long car rides if it ends in Disney World, but hate them if they end at the dentist’s office. If your pup can associate the car with going to a fun place, they’re going to be more excited about the trip itself. If you only ever take your dog in the car when it’s time for his annual checkup, he’s going to associate the car with his sterile veterinarian’s office.
5. Consider riding on an empty stomach.
Does your dog get carsick really easy? Think his car anxiety stems from nausea? Dogs with a history of motion sickness are likely to tense up at the idea of getting in the car out of fear of being sick again. Consider coaxing them into the car with words of affirmation, instead of treats—and only drive them around on an empty stomach. Over time, as you take rides without nausea, your dog should become accustomed to their newfound lack of nausea. They may even begin to enjoy the ride.
6. Give them a calming suppressant.
Sometimes, coaxing them into the car and showering them with affection isn’t enough. Travel anxiety in pets is a very real thing and many vets may prescribe some type of calming suppressant—like sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs—to get them from point A to point B. Don’t want a prescription medication, consult your vet about over-the-counter medications, too.
As you work through this struggle, be patient and consistent with your pup. Keep things positive and don’t let him go into all-out fear mode. All dogs are different, but with continuous work, you two can make car rides fun again!
Suburb Service: Seattle’s Go-To Subaru Repair Shop
Looking to keep your Subaru cozy for your pets? Want to make sure your car can always get you and Fido where you need to go? Schedule your regular maintenance appointment with us now or have us look at a repair you need fixing ASAP. You can now schedule your appointment online or give us a call at 206-364-8089. Show your Subaru some love.