“If you want to take your dog with you in the car, you should start getting it used to the car early,” explains Evi Graner, owner of grrr, a dog training school. “Starting on the day of your dog’s first drive is definitely too late.” Her tip: “Let your dog get to know the car slowly and well in advance – and start with the engine off.” You can lift him in or tempt your dog into the car with little treats. By controlled feeding your dog in the car for a few days, you help him build up positive associations.
Mark the territory
A car ride means a lot of excitement. So a good routine helps. An established seat is an absolute must for transporting a dog. Preferably, give your dog a comfortable cushion to lie on, so that he can relax. And make sure that you can make eye contact with your dog while driving.
Put your dog’s blanket or favourite toy in the carrier. Having something that he knows and likes will help him relax and feel at home.
Securing your dog in the car
For the sake of your four-legged friend, you should always make sure he is safe and secure according to traffic laws. This way you’ll avoid an unnecessary risk – not to mention expensive fines. For trips abroad, it’s important to read up on the local regulations. It’s up to you whether you use a special belt, a dog carrier or a barrier between the passenger area and the boot.
Find locations to take breaks
Long car trips are a strain for our canine companions. Short breaks along the way will provide them with a chance to run and play. An expert tip: Before you leave, find the nicest forest trails or dog-friendly rest areas where your dog can get out and run. Remember to offer plenty of water at every break.
Exiting the car
When leaving the car, you should get out first, and only then let the dog out. Go around to the door closest to him, and give a clear command for him to exit. The expert explains: “This way you maintain control outside the car, and you aren’t still fiddling with your seatbelt while the dog runs around the area or out into the street.” Another golden rule: don’t forget the dog leash!
Food in moderatation
Heavy snacking before a car ride is definitely a no-no for dogs. You can give him a few treats along the way to make the trip a bit sweeter. Some dogs get sick in the car and – just like kids – they might throw up. The only thing that helps is to get the dog used to smaller trips and gradually work your way up.
Whether you want to grab an ice-cream or buy a new lounge chair, you shouldn’t keep your dog waiting in the car when you’re out and about in the summer heat. Even a few minutes in a hot car can be dangerous, and open windows are often not enough to keep your pet comfortable and safe. When it’s hot, take your dog with you.