Dogs and Motion Sickness
Does your Australian Labradoodle get carsick? Well the facts are that almost any breed can get car sick and then develop a fear around going in the car. In fact, motion sickness is common in young dogs because their vestibular system isn’t fully developed. Most dogs grow out of motion sickness, but some equate car rides with feeling unwell, leading to a conditioned stress response that can last a lifetime.
How can we prevent our puppy from developing this fear. Well, to start you can take them on short rides in the car right off the bat. We are talking the first week they come home!
You can maybe drive around the block one day and the next day maybe drive around a couple of blocks on so on. (Short and sweet is the answer when they are babies.) You can increase the distance you are driving as puppy grows older. What really helps these short little trips is to take a handful of treats with you (and a helper to keep those treats coming the whole time they are in the car.
Now say you missed that window when they were young and now they are older and deathly afraid of the car. Here is what to do:
-First make sure you have a window down or cracked so there is fresh air coming in. Then use a calming dog herbal remedy to help dog. We use rescue remedy if we have an anxious dog. Then:
Determine exactly when your dog starts to feel nervous about getting in the car. Sometimes it’s when they’re standing next to it on a dog leash. Sometimes it’s the moment the car turns on. Your goal is to start with the point that comes right before your dog’s stress reaction. For the dog who exhibits stress behaviors like panting and whining when the car starts, allow her to get in the car while it is turned off.
When they are at that nervous point feed them multiple tiny, high-value dog treats like chicken or cheese or egg for two to three minutes, and then get out of or away from the car and end the session.
You will want to do this once a day until you notice your dog getting excited about approaching and hopping into the car. When that happens, it means your dog is comfortable with the foundation step and you can progress to the next one.
Continue gently exposing your dog to each step of the travel process, giving them treats and making sure they feel comfortable and confident and happy at each point before you move on to the next one. It’s very important to break up the entire process into manageable pieces. It is also very important to never force them into the next step. If you find yourself wanting to take the next step but they are not going for it, use patience and back up to the previous step and work on it for several more days and then try moving forward from there.
Your first outings might be as quick as backing out of the driveway and then pulling right back in. Even though that does not seem too exciting or like you accomplished much it is HUGE and if the puppy is confident the whole time, it is a big win! Try that a few more times in the next couple of weeks and then move to the next step which maybe driving down to the mailbox!