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August 4, 2008

killerdriving.jpgMany dogs love to ride in the car. You see them often with their noses to the wind and a happy doggy grin on their face. So you know dogs can enjoy a car ride but perhaps you are not sure how to get your dog to enjoy it too. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, here are a few tips to help help your dog enjoy the car ride.

First, you need to consider using a pet auto safety device such as a pet car seat, dog seat belt, or pet carrier. If you use a pet auto safety device for your pet, you need to allow your pet time to get used to it. If you are using a pet car seat, for example, allow your pet to use as a bed for a short time before putting it in the car. If you are using a dog seat belt, put the safety harness on the dog (without the buckle strap attached) and allow them to wear it around the house (with supervision). If you are using a crate, crate train your pet first.

Tip #1 – To Help to Prevent Vomiting or Voiding in the Car
* Do not give them anything to eat for an hour or two before the ride.
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Don’t allow them to drink excessively.
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Allow your dog to take a potty break just before going for a ride.

Tip #2 – Take Short Fun Trips
Once your dog is used to the pet auto safety device, start taking them somewhere they will enjoy.  This will help them learn to associate a car ride with these special places.
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Go to the park.
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Visit the pet store.
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Take your pet with you to visit a friend.
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Take your pet with you when you are only going to a drive-through such as at a bank or fast-food place.
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Go to a coffee shop or restaurant where you can sit outside.

Never take your dog someplace where you will have to leave them unattended in the car. 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 dangers, but it could also cause your pet to get lonely, anxious, or nervous. If your dog already fears a car ride, leaving them alone in it is not going to help.

Tip #3 - Distract Your Pet
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Give your dog a familiar object like their favorite toy or blanket.
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alk to your dog while you drive, but don’t use a soothing voice. Talking to them in a soothing voice may confirm their thinking that the car ride is a bad thing. Use a regular tone of voice and talk as if nothing is wrong. However, every dog is different. Some dogs may get more excited by the sound of your voice, in which case you should ignore them. Try both talking and silence to see which works best for your pet. Try not to scold your pet. Positive reinforcement is the best way to make a car ride enjoyable. Do not let your talking to the dog distract you from your driving. It is also recommended that you do not pet them while you drive. Not only can this distract you from the road, it may also encourage the dog to pester you for more attention.
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Try playing the radio for your pet. Soothing music may have a calming effect on some pets. 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 who has never heard them before.
* Open a window. Even if the loud sounds of the road are a problem for your pet an open window may provide a distraction of new and interesting smells for your dog. Most dogs seem to love this aspect of car rides. Your dog should not be able to stick their head out the window while using a restraint, but they should still be able to catch those exciting scents.
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If possible, have someone sit in the back seat with your dog.  They can provide a distraction that you, as the driver, can not.  This person, however, should not use a soothing voice and comforting manner.  Remember, you want your dog to think that riding in the car is no big deal.

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