Think about it for a minute. Traveling, however mundane it seems to us, might feel like an alien abduction to your dog. At home they stand or sit; happy, well-adjusted canines, confident in their ability to explore the world on foot. But if your dog is anxious about travel, below are some simple, effective ways to prevent travel anxiety in dogs, so you both enjoy the trip.
If your dog is a puppy, you need not worry — yet. Pups, like kids, are more prone to car sickness. It’s a matter of their inner ear, the part that governs balance, not being fully developed yet. Chances are your dog will get over the sickness and enjoy the trip by the time they’re a year old. That’s not to say you should ignore the problem until it goes away on its own.
4 Tips to Prevent Travel Anxiety in Dogs
- Desensitize them by traveling in baby steps, driving in and out of the driveway, down to the end of the block and back, around the block and so on until a real trip to an actual somewhere becomes doable. Praise them before and after.
- For other modes of transportation, you can place them in their travel crate and drive around so they are accustomed to moving while in their crate.
- Applying oil of lavender to a cotton ball or your dog’s collar can have a calming effect on both your dog and you.
- “Rescue Remedy”, that mysterious combination of Bach Flower remedies, water and, not too surprisingly, brandy, has been alleviating anxiety problems in dogs since the early 1900’s.
Now for a really off-the-wall suggestion. Wearing an E-collar, colloquially known as the “Cone-of-Shame”, soothes some dogs while traveling in a car. Lord knows why having an inverted lampshade attached to your head would cause you to relax and enjoy the ride, but apparently it can and does.
Then there’s T-touch, a massage technique invented by Linda Tellington-Jones, who literally built an acupressure empire around it. Originally designed for horses, she soon expanded the technique to dogs, cats and just about every critter on the planet that’s willing to sit or stand still long enough to be touched. She has numerous books and video courses on the topic and gives seminars all around the world.
But if you’re looking for faster results, you might try calming wear, that comes in many types and sizes.
Imagine a svelte, canine jacket that applies gentle, reassuring pressure to the entire body of the dog. As its name implies, these wraps and shirts can eliminate symptoms of anxiety caused by thunder, firecrackers, crowds and travel.
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If you want to create a homemade version of a calming shirt, you can easily do so with an Ace Bandage and a couple of safety pins. The width and length of the bandage depends on the size of the dog, but the application is easy. You loosely stretch the bandage across your dog’s chest, pass it up and cross it over the withers, then down and under the belly and up to the back where you tie or pin the bandage somewhat to the side to keep direct pressure off the spine. Should our verbal instructions confound you, there are plenty of diagrams and videos on-line to guide you in both in the basic version and more ornate configurations.
Hopefully, these suggestions will allow your dog to become an everyday companion to your travels. After all, no one wants to leave their best friend behind when there’s a world waiting to be explored.