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How to travel safely in a car with your dog

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By Karren Williams, pet advisor at Swell Pets 

Most dogs love nothing more than a ride in their owner’s car. You can often see just how excited they are as they look through the windows in amazement. But for other dogs, a car journey isn’t quite as fun, and they’ll lie down, hide under blankets and remain quiet throughout the trip. Some even suffer from motion sickness, making transporting your dog from A to B a difficult task. But these challenges are easily conquered with a few changes.

Good associations
Perhaps one of the best tips that we can offer is to ensure that your dog associates car journeys with happiness and fun. For many, the first car journey that you take with your dog is a trip to the vets to get injections. This is rarely a pleasant experience and is one that can make dogs fearful of car journeys for a while afterwards.

So in order to prevent your dog from being filled with panic and worry upon seeing the car, make sure that the first few journeys that you go on are fun and enjoyable. Take your dog out for a walk or give it a treat as soon as you step foot out of the car and your dog will automatically feel relaxed and at ease. Your behaviour can heavily influence your dog’s feelings towards something. If you pamper them too much and offer them too much sympathy, they can feel like something is wrong. Instead, act normal and positive to show that there is nothing to worry about.  

Be safe
Safety is another important thing to take into account when going for a drive with your dog. If you don’t have a large boot with a window, then your dog will be best off sat on a seat. But make sure they are strapped in. Dog crates can be another great way of travelling with your pet. They’re secure and also something that many dogs associate with safety and comfort. When first introducing your dog to the crate, don’t pressure them to go inside, instead open the door, place a treat inside and allow them to wander in themselves. Don’t immediately close the door either, allow them to get used to going in and out as they please to prevent them from feeling restricted. Once your dog is used to using the crate in the home, introducing one to your car should be an easy transition.

Cool dogs are happy dogs
Always remember that cars can be very warm places, particularly for a dog. For long journeys, Rosewood Road Refresher Bowls from Swell Pets are great for keeping your dog hydrated without the risk of spillages. The bowl has sloping sides that curve inwards to prevent water from going to waste when turning corners or breaking suddenly. Your car also needs to be properly ventilated with the windows open, particularly if it is a hot day.

Car-sick canine?
If your dog suffers from motion sickness, then specialist herbal tablets can be taken to reduce the effect caused by movement. It’s also recommended that you don’t feed your dog for at least two hours before your journey to minimise the likelihood of sickness.

Finally, this may sound like an obvious one, but never ever leave your dog alone in the car. Even if you’re just popping into a shop for a short while, it doesn’t take long for a dog to overheat when in such a confined and warm space. It’s not worth the risk!

For a selection of dog crates, visit: Swell Pets.

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