dog sitting in a car

Travel Anxiety

Car Phobia’s and Fears in Dogs

Do you dread the days you must take your dog in the car; does he make a run for it when he sees the keys? Or is he just a poor traveller but braves the stress of the road?

Travel anxiety is one of those behavioural issues that many people would like to solve but the right information and advice is simply not there. What we see is more clinical and veterinary advise which leads you more down the line of medication.

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Like any other fear, travel fears do not just develop from nothing. They are more likely to be a negative association to the activity like being sick or not settling down and consequently being unsteady as your vehicle moves around.

We all know that dogs learn by association, so if your dog has had a terrible experience in the car then this will cause the apprehension.

dog looking out of a car

However sometimes this fear doesn’t come from a learnt association, but from a simple lack of exposure to travelling. We are told by our Vets to not take puppies out until we complete its vaccinations, unfortunately many owners take this literally and it can cause so many of these early stage problems with travelling.

So, the sad side effect of this can be the puppy’s first experience of the car can be traumatic. As the positive association with travelling has come quite late in the development, and the puppy’s ability to cope has dramatically dropped.

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There is no sure way to overcome a dog’s fear of travel, but we must start somewhere and with a puppy it is easier than an older dog with standing and ingrained fear.

Remember whatever technique you follow always use positive reward and make sure your dog is enjoying the process, the moment you see and signs of stress you must step back a little.

dog looking out of a car

You are looking for follow your Lead so make it fun, as a result if you get it right your efforts will pay off and your dog will eventually happily enter your car without any issues. They will gradually see the car as exciting and start to jump in on their own.

The end game is to develop a good positive association with traveling. Start with short journeys that always end with your dog having an enjoyable experience like walkies at the local park.

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Take your time and slowly increase the journeys and in time the distance can be increased. However, you do this, whatever process you use it all comes down the more time and effort you put in everyday, the quicker the you will see the results.

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