There are many things to take into consideration when traveling with your pet. Especially if your pet is a puppy and new to car journeys, particularly long ones. Or when there has been a long gap between taking your pet on a long car journey, as may be the case after lockdown.
To avoid anxiety and stress, try to build up the length of time your pet is in the car. If your pet is completely new to the car, start by introducing them to it whilst stationary. Encourage your pet into the car, doors or boot open, give plenty of positive reinforcement and repeat daily until it’s clear they are comfortable with getting in the car and the space they will occupy on a journey. This could be a fixed crate, a secure and ventilated boot area or a back seat with a harness safety belt. You may like to use calming agents such as Adaptil. Using the artificial calming pheromones will help with any stage of this process.
Then you can start introducing the engine. Some pets may be startled by this so take the time as before to desensitise them to the engine before commencing your first journey, repeat and praise as required. Start with short and slower journeys, building up the time spent in the car and not forgetting to give them the experience of a motorway or dual carriage way. Some dogs who are very familiar with car journeys, can become unsettled when introduced to a motorway, the speed, the other cars and trucks, and having windows closed can be a trigger for anxiety. So, remember to work this into your regime when building up this process. Only move up with timing, distance and speed when your pet is comfortable with the stage you are at.
Once you know your pet is settled in the car, there are other things to factor in, especially if looking at a long road trip.
Lockdown has brought several difficulties, for us and our companion friends. Whether you are introducing road trips or car journeys for the first time with your new puppy, or reintroducing after a long gap, remember to take things slow. Try not to overwhelm your pet by rushing to get them comfortable, it is much harder to undo a learnt phobia, than to take it at their pace. Planning journeys with rest breaks, considering safety and even what to do in an emergency, will help you and your furry best friend get the best out of the experience.
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