Rescuing a puppy or full-grown dog is an amazing and rewarding experience. It is also an important responsibility that requires attention in several areas. Your new pet is experiencing a lot of things for the first time. Depending on their background, they may be more anxious or jumpy than other dogs you have met. This means it is up to you to make sure their transition is a smooth one.
Today, we are going to talk about how to get your rescue dog to feel comfortable in the car. This is important because you want to have the option of taking your dog with you to events with family and friends. If they cannot control themselves in the car, you are going to have to leave them behind. Here are three ways to ensure their experience in the car will be calm and incident free.
Start Short, Build Your Way Up
The key to this specific type of training is to start small, or in this case short. You do not want your dog’s first ride to be a two hour long road trip. Think of your dog in the car like you on the treadmill for the first time. You have to get used to the motion and the speed. If you run on the treadmill too long, you will get tired and sore and not want to go again. The same thing goes for your dog. The experience of riding in a car is something they need to get used to.
If you have the time, start by driving around your neighborhood for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye out for shaking, panting, whining, or any other sign that they are in distress. For the first ride or two, you may want to have someone sitting in the backseat with them. Eventually, that person will leave so your dog can experience what it is like to be alone back there. Before you begin this process, make sure there is nothing in your backseat they can chew or possibly choke on.
Begin With Fun Destinations
A common mistake dog owners make is limiting their dog’s trips to those that end in the vet or the groomers. Most dogs dislike both of these places. If these are the only places you take them, they will immediately associate the car with the negative memories of being at the vet or the groomer. The key is to start them off with fun destinations so they associate car rides with positive feelings and they become excited at the prospect of going somewhere.
A common destination to start with is a dog park. After a few trips, your pup will begin to associate your vehicle with playing with other dogs and running around. You can also take them to your family or friend’s house where you know they will receive positive attention. These destinations prompt your dog to be excited about being in the car. If they are thinking about the possible destinations in their mind, that gives them less of an opportunity to get nervous or anxious about anything else.
Ensure They Are Secure
Our last tip doubles as safety advice as well. When your dog is in the car, they should be secured just like you would a child. Now, we are not suggesting you purchase a car seat. We are however suggesting you invest in a dog seat belt and locking them before beginning your drive. This will still allow them to move around but will avoid them being thrown around suddenly in case of a sudden stop or accident. If they feel secure, they are much more likely to feel comfortable and relaxed throughout your trip.
Depending on the size of your dog and the layout of your car, you may want to consider a dog car barrier. This is a net or gate that prevents your dog from entering other areas of the car. For example, it will prevent bigger dogs from trying to get into the front seat and possibly hitting your stick shift or distracting you while you are driving.
Car rides can be one of the best parts of rescuing a dog. However, it’s important to have a transition plan in place. This ensures your dog is safe, secure, and calm at all times. By following these steps, you will have a pet who will eagerly join you on any road trip you plan on having.