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Part of owning a puppy revolves around travelling in your vehicle, so how do you make sure puppies and cars go well with each other?
Socialising your puppy will involve carting them here and there in your car, so you’ll need to familiarise your them with car travel. If you avoid doing this when they’re young it can often lead to car sickness or a fear of cars leading to destructive or aggressive behaviour.
Before bringing your puppy for a car ride, create a safe space for them in the back seat.
The back seat or hatch area of your vehicle is the safest space for your puppy. Some dog owners will only travel with their puppy in a crate for added safety, while others opt to buy a restraint harness. A dog seatbelt will keep your puppy in a safe spot in the event of a car accident or if someone unwittingly opens the door, stopping your puppy from dashing out into a potentially dangerous area!
The back seat is not only a safety precaution for puppies and cars! This goes with all vehicles any time they travel. If your puppy is in the front, it can create a distraction for you as a driver. Your puppy jumping onto your lap while driving can be extremely dangerous! It’s important to be strict with a puppy staying in the back; putting them into the front from the beginning will make them think it’s allowed.
In the eyes of a young pup, a vehicle can be a terrifying thing. For a good relationship between puppies and cars, start slow.
When you first bring your puppy into your car, allow them to sniff around, giving lots of praise and treats.
Wait a bit before turning the car on, so your puppy can get familiar with their surroundings.
If your puppy has already shown fear of the car, try leaving the door opened and setting some yummy treats just inside for your puppy to find. You can also keep special toys in your car to ease your puppies anxiety.
Puppies and cars should start out with short but eventful trips.
Make your first trip an exciting one, maybe to a park or to visit a friend, so your puppy will associate the car with fun times! Try not to take long car rides at first, so your puppy does not become over anxious or carsick.
Carsickness happens more frequently with puppies than older dogs. The reason for this is due to the puppy’s ear not being fully developed, particularly the parts of their ear involved in balance. This can cause your puppy to become nauseated and vomit. If this happens, it might be best to wait a couple of weeks before attempting car rides. Most puppies will outgrow car sickness.
5 Tips For Puppies and Cars
- Keep automatic windows locked so your pup doesn’t accidentally roll it down.
- Give your puppy a toy that is safe to chew without direct supervision.
- Always unleash your pup so they don’t become entangled.
- Confine puppy to a crate in the vehicle, or purchase a dog seatbelt.
- Do not scold your puppy if they get sick; it’s not their fault!
Cars and puppies can become great allies, so be patient with a fearful pup; once they realise how fun it can be, you’ll have a hard time getting them out of the car!
In cases where you can’t bring your puppy along, read our article on “Puppy Separation Anxiety” to help your puppy transition easier.