How to Make Your Pets Like Car Rides: Solving Unfamiliarity and Negative Experiences (Part 2)
Motion sickness is just one of the problems that your pets can experience when riding inside a vehicle. Two other causes that prevent them from liking car rides are unfamiliarity and negative experiences.
Humans aren't the only ones who get uncomfortable with unfamiliar surroundings. Dogs and cats do too as well, especially when they're inside a vehicle.
And it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Your car's interior is a cocktail of sensory overload for your pets: your air freshener, the vibrations on the floor, people talking, your "scratchy" carpet, and even passing motorists are just some of those things that can make them feel overwhelmed and frightened of car rides.
The trick here is to lessen the sensory experience as much as possible. Put them in a crate and place a cover around the entire box--even the area where they're facing.
Try not to play any music--or play those that are relaxing and calming, like classical music. Have their favorite toy with them when you travel, and dim the lights by placing objects that can block out the light.
You can also help familiarize your pets by placing them inside your car frequently and increase the duration they spend inside slowly. For instance, you can be with them inside the vehicle for two minutes first, and then build from there. Make sure to give them treats when they behave well inside the vehicle.
There are some dogs or cats that associate cars with bad experiences. These are the ones who probably got ran over by a vehicle, or associated it with frequent vet treatments or even getting abandoned.
Car phobia is not an easy thing to cure, especially if they're deep-seated cases. But before you solve it, make sure to have your pet checked by the vet to make sure he or she is in good shape. Oftentimes, the reason for deep-seated anxiety can stem from medical causes, so make sure to rule out any possible illnesses first.
Once your pet's given a clean bill of health, you need to build up positive reinforcements as well. For instance, you can give them their favorite meals inside the car. Then you can do this with the engine running (while your vehicle's stationary). Once your pet gets comfortable with it, then you can do this while the car's moving for a few minutes.
It's important to make these drives as pleasant and fun as possible. Always make sure to end the ride with something they find enjoyable, like playing catch or walking around the block. And remember to give them treats whenever they behave.
Riding the car with your pets can be a great experience--just make sure they enjoy it as well. The good news is you can always find ways to make them like it better. All it takes is a bit of patience, lots of treats, and some trial-and-error on your part, but they're all worth it in the end.