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February 14, 2012

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Many dogs love to ride in the car. You see them with their heads out the window and tongue’s-a-lolling. But not all dogs love to ride in the car. My new dog Pierson does okay in the car, but he doesn’t love it like my dog Maya does. So what can I do? What can you do so that your dog loves to ride in the car?

Take Short Trips
Take your dog to the pet store, drive-through bank, drive-through food, dog park, just to name a few. Stay close to home so that your dog doesn’t get car sick.

Go Somewhere Fun
Your dog would love to get a treat at the pet store or run around in the dog park. Go as often as the weather allows. If you have a friend your dog plays well with, take your dog when you visit your friend.

No Food Beforehand
Try not to give your dog his meal one to two hours before a car trip. Your dog may be okay on short trips, but not always.

Don’t Sooth Your Dog
By consoling your dog on the trip, you aren’t reassuring him that everything is okay. You are confirming his beliefs that a car trip is bad. Ignore his behavior or talk in a normal voice. If your dog is used to the radio, turn it on. Otherwise leave it off.

Don’t Yell at Your Dog
Likewise, don’t yell at your dog when he is in the car. Yelling just confirms his belief that riding in the car is a bad thing. If he is misbehaving, ignore him. If you can’t ignore him because he is all over the car, consider putting him in a dog car harness.

Allow Your Dog to Look Out the Window
If you have a small dog, don’t put him on your lap so he can see out the window. That is not safe for either you or your dog. Put him in a pet car booster seat. If you have a large dog, you may have a hard time looking out the window if he is huddled in his seat. Open a window to encourage him to look out. Don’t force him. As he gets more used to the car, he may eventually be tempted by a scent outside and lift his nose to look out. The more he looks out the window, the less likely he is to get car sick. Don’t force him to look out, though.

Give Your Dog Something that is His
To help my new dog Pierson enjoy the car, I give him his favorite blanket. It has his scent all over it and it smells like home. I could give him a toy too, but I’d prefer that he look out the window so he won’t get car sick.

With time and patience, your dog will come to love riding in the car. Then both you and your dog can enjoy those trips to the dog park. You may even be able to take him on longer trips when you go on vacation. I speak from experience when I say that vacationing with my dogs is much more enjoyable (and less expensive) than leaving them behind.

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