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Blog of the Week: How To Deal With A Dog’s Car Sickness

How To Deal With A Dog’s Car Sickness

You would be surprised at the numbers of dogs that come in our door who get sick in the car. A fairly common issue, car sickness really limits what you can do with your pooch. Luckily for us there are some things we can do to help remedy that issue. Keep in mind that motion sickness in dogs like in humans may take a while to subside and in some cases may require medication to control but here are some tips that may help you.

First thing we need to do is make sure the area that the dog is riding in is safe and as easy to clean as possible. I recommend having your dog in a sturdy crate (Ruff N’ Tuff crates have held up in crash tests) so that if your dog does get sick it’s contained in one area. If a crate won’t fit in your vehicle then I recommend the use of a harness and tether system with towels or other easy to clean items that protects your upholstery. It may also be a good idea to not feed or give water to your dog just before a car ride as that can upset their stomach.

Anyone that has ever had seasickness can tell you that once that has been experienced just the sight of a boat makes them queasy. Once experienced the memory is tainted with negativity, that’s why a dog once having experienced car sickness will usually begin to excessively salivate (a sign of queasiness) as soon as they get into the car. Once you suspect your dog of having motion sickness then we should begin to take proactive steps. Try making the car as fun as possible, make it a game of getting in and out of the car without driving anywhere. Work on that for a while, try not to rush it, we want the dog to view the car as a game and not as a source of their discomfort. Continue this exercise until they stop salivating in the car and/or they begin to find the car fun. Then reintroduce car rides in a slow fashion. Turn on your vehicle let it run for a second or two, then turn off your automobile and go back to playing with your dog. Next time, turn on the car, go through the routine of buckling your seat belt, starting the car, and putting it into gear. After you turn off the car go back to the normal up and out game we’ve established. This long drawn out effort is to make sure there is no other associated trigger for that motion sickness. The third time you’re going to pull the vehicle out of the driveway before returning it and just like before, begin and end the exercise with that fun game. Begin to slowly increase the length and duration of the drive while still making the car ride as fun as possible.

Remember to be patient during this process and if necessary elongate any of these steps to assure success. Repetition is the recipe for the realization of our goals not only in dealing with car sickness but in all areas of training. Patience is also a much needed ingredient, take pride in every micro achievement that leads you in the right direction. Without each and every prior step our goal would not be attainable. Don’t worry if your not successful at first, without failing we cannot learn what doesn’t work. To quote Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

– Josh Decker, Dog Trainer

Article written by Josh Decker

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Matthew Duffy is well known for his renowned dog training services, books and DVDs, and online video training sessions through memberships. Matthew uses "genuine control without the rigidity of formal commands." Bring on the dogs!