If you look at my minivan you can tell I own dogs, if the nose prints all over the back window does not give it away, you’ll soon enough see or hear my husky. My girls reside in the back of my 2001 Dodge Caravan, they stare out of the windows happily watching the world drive by. Before they were so well behaved in the back; however, they used to bounce around the car like rampant children.
Then one day I got fed up, we don’t have the second back seat of our van in. Its been like this for a while, actually since we moved into our house back in March. So looking at my van, after I cleaned up pop off my steering wheel for the millionth time, I kicked my beloved puppies into the hatchback. Safely I secure their leashes to where the back seat should lock in. This prevents them from coming up front and bugging me, or blocking my view with their bodies or their wonderful nose printing, while allowing them to travel with my husband and I still.
The van has become a clean, pop free environment and we’re happier for it. Before you take your puppy for a ride think of both your safety and your dog’s safety. If your dog is nervous when they get in a car this can make your trip, no matter how short you make it, very stressful. Your dog needs to feel safe and secure when traveling. If you have a hatchback car, I suggest putting them in the back and securing them in safely. If they are simply too large to fit in your hatchback, the backseat will have to suffice, but once again make it clear that there will be no dogs allowed in the front seat at any point in time.
Here are some tips that can make your trips more fun for the whole family:
- Start on an empty stomach, empty bowels – If your dog is not used to traveling make sure they haven’t eaten recently (bring food so they can eat at your destination if its going to be a long time, or wait until you get home), and make sure that they urinate as well as have a healthy bowel movement. Your car’s upholstery will thank you.
- Provide entertainment for your pet- This is especially important for all stages of the day if your dog likes to chew when bored, or is teething. A bone to chew on can provide a dog with hours of entertainment and will keep your seats in one piece, and your sanity intact. Our dogs have at least three bones in the car at one time, not sure where they are, but they find them and chomp down.
- Keep the music low- I do it, you do it. Most people enjoy a song and crank the tunes. When your dog is still getting used to the car, loud music will make a dog more nervous than lower sounds. Also dogs have more sensitive hearing, louder music will hurt them and cause distress. So resist the urge to blast that song, your dogs ears will be happy.
- Practice a friendly drive- Road rage plagues many a person. I have it, I will yell at people who cut me off, or do something stupid. However, you should try and keep your cool while your pooch is in your car. Dogs are sensitive to emotions and energies, if you are stressed or angry they will associate the car with a stressful, angry environment.
- Start short- This may sound like a no brainer, but believe it or not sometimes its unavoidable. Shortly after we got Butterball we had to go three and a half hours one way to go rescue a family member. A seven hour drive with your new dog may not be ideal. If you can start with short drives, like to the store and back and once your dog is familiar with the car then try further and further.
- Break often- If you’ve gone two hours, and four coffee’s later and you just have to stop, chances are when you return to your car that your dog will have to go out as well. Make it a practice, that every pit stop you make, your dog should make one too. My husky is particularly picky as to where she…wastes, we’re not sure why, and a pee break with her can literally be 20 minutes of waiting for her to go, getting fed up and sure enough two seconds later in the car we have a mess. Some dogs get over loaded with the strange smells of gas stations, if your beloved can’t seem to find that perfect spot, try walking a bit away from the gas station (if at all possible) and seeing if the grass is truly greener on the other side.
- Tire them out- If your dog tends to be overly excited in the car, try taking a walk first. Tire your puppy out with exercise before you go for your car ride, so they sleep most of the way, will mean that you have a quieter ride. If its just not possible, you can also look for car-friendly crates to contain your overly energetic passenger.
No matter what, as I mentioned things don’t always go as planned. Butterball, our youngest, is a great travel buddy. She enjoys her time in the back, and enjoys finding new scents. Perhaps it was the three hour drive home on my husband’s lap when we first got her, but she seems to travel better than Seraphim does. Each dog will tell you what they are ready for. Just like anything else, practice, praise, and love them, soon you’ll be traveling the roads with your family, dog included.