Authored by John Woods
Would you be surprised to know that 56% of pet-owners transport their dog by car, at least once a month?
Not only do visits to the Vet usually involve transporting Fido in the car, many dog-parents take their beloved four-legged friend on vacation with them, or simply decide to go to the lake for the day.
Whilst many dogs cope well during travel, we have put together 5 of the best tips for training Fido to travel in a car, safely.
How to Teach Fido To Travel in a Car
1. Plan Where Fido Will Sit!
Firstly, Fido needs to be safe during transport. Is Fido crate trained at home? If so, it could be easy to transfer this to the car.
Like you would train at home; place the crate in the car with the door or trunk open. Introduce Fido to the crate, let him sniff and explore. Slowly encourage him into the crate with treats or chews.
He needs to learn that the crate is a good place to be, and we know that dogs learn through reinforcement.
If your car isn’t big enough for a crate, you will likely opt for a harness system to fasten Fido in – this is much easier if Fido is used to wearing a harness on a walk. The idea is the same though.
You want to introduce Fido to the car in a positive way. Let him explore and sniff; throw treats into the area where Fido will lay or sit. Fasten the harness and continue to treat him.
It could be worth training both methods, just in case someone else needs to transport Fido one day.
2. Start Slow
Once you’re confident that Fido is happy in his harness or crate, start with short journeys – they don’t even have to lead to anywhere, a trip around the block is fine.
Fido needs to learn that travelling in the car is nothing to be worried about and it’s soon over. Slowly increase the journey length, as long as Fido is coping. When you get him out of the car at the end of the journey, praise and reward him.
For his first few journeys, go somewhere he enjoys; a new walk or to see a relative he likes.
Avoid stressful places; you don’t want Fido to think that every time he goes in the car he will end up at the veterinarians.
3. Avoiding Feeding Fido
Plan ahead; if Fido needs feeding, make sure he has it a good few hours before travelling.
For those humans who suffer with travel sickness, you know there is nothing worse. Add in the fact that dogs can’t tell us they are about to vomit, and you’ll end up with an unhappy pooch and a particularly sweet-smelling car.
Some dogs are still prone to travel sickness no matter how much time has passed after feeding. Veterinarians can prescribe anti-sickness medication, but this is generally only given for long journeys.
4. Plan Your Route
If you are going to be on the road for some time, plan toilet stops for you and Fido.
Take poo bags and some bottled water with a bowl. If Fido knows that his basic needs will be met, he will be much more settled during the journey.
Keep Fido’s collar on in the car so you can easily attach the leash when you let him out.
Teach Fido the wait command for when you remove his harness from the car or open his crate. This will make it much safer if you are stopping in busy parking lots or truck stops.
5. Exercise First
Take Fido out for a walk before any journey. Not only does it allow him to go to the toilet, but it will use up some of his energy. When he gets into the car, he is more likely to be tired and therefore associate the car with needing to be calm.
If Fido sleeps for most of the journey, it’s less stressful for him and for you. A boisterous and energetic dog is a huge distraction to the driver; not ideal when the driver’s attention should be on the road.
Finally, read up on the legal requirements in your State / country. Whilst many places don’t explicitly require dogs to be restrained or harnessed, it can still be an offence to travel with a dog in your lap.
We hope these 5 top tips have given you a good place to start when teaching Fido to travel in a car. Stay patient and help him learn that the car is a safe and good place to be.
PRODUCTS WE LOVE IF YOU DECIDE TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR DOG ↓