How to Make a Puppy Feel Secure in a Car

by Ann Compton
    Give your puppy her own place to ride safely in the car.

    Give your puppy her own place to ride safely in the car.

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    Whether it's around the block or across the country, one of the joys of dog ownership is traveling with your pup. A ride in the car is a treat for some puppies; others tremble and drool. Your puppy will feel secure if she has her own travel spot in your vehicle that makes her feel protected.

    Your puppy's first ride is usually when you bring her home. Many puppies don't get in a car again until their first trip to the vet -- usually, a stressful time. Avoid this by making car travel a positive experience. Start her early so she feels comfortable in the car when it's not moving. Put your puppy in the car daily; let her explore and give her a treat, or feed her in the car. Take her on short rides, even just around the block, to acclimate her to the motion. This will help avoid car sickness, says Jason Nicholas, DVM.

    Your car is unfamiliar territory to your puppy. She's bound to feel anxious if you plunk her in the back seat to rumble around. Give your puppy a traveling den in the car to help her feel secure. The best choice is a dog crate, especially if you've crate-trained her at home where her crate is her safe place. Statistically, your puppy is safest riding in a plastic or wire crate if you're in an accident, according to Service Dog Central. A crate can be placed on the back seat or secured with bungee cords in the rear storage area of an SUV. Get your puppy used to traveling this way by placing a small rug or pet bed and an article with your scent or one of her toys in the crate. She will feel more secure riding in her own little den.

    It may be impractical to travel a larger puppy in a crate if you have a small car. If you don't have room for a crate in your car, consider using a travel harness to make your puppy feel secure by anchoring her in one place and allowing her to see you and her surroundings. A harness buckles around the dog's chest and clips to the seat belt, keeping her in one place. Some harness systems offer a pet bed which is placed under the pet on the seat or, in some cases, raised above the seat to offer a view from the window.

    Be prepared if your puppy is nervous and trembles, drools or gets carsick. Puppies sometimes outgrow this as they become accustomed to traveling, but you can help them overcome the anxiety that causes it, Nicholas says. Avoid feeding your puppy just before you travel. Talk to her during the ride. The sound of your voice will help calm her. If weather permits, crack a window for some fresh air. If nerves or carsickness persist, talk with your veterinarian. He may prescribe medication to help ease the problem.

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    About the Author

    With more than 25 years in journalism, Ann Compton has written for national newspapers, magazines and websites. She has covered the equestrian events in five Olympics as well as the Westminster Dog Show and specializes in animal topics. She breeds, trains and shows Shetland Sheepdogs.

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