Many dogs take to riding in a car like a duck to water. It is not uncommon to see dogs in cars with faces turned up to the window, sniffing the air, panting with excitement. Perhaps you have taken your cockapoo for a ride in the car, but found that he did not instantly enjoy it. Some dogs behave badly or perhaps cause distractions which might be dangerous. In such cases, going to the vet or taking a family vacation might prove difficult. Whether your pet is still a puppy, or a mature dog, consider using these suggestions to help him enjoy riding safely in the car in the future.

Avoiding Car Sickness: Just like humans, some dogs can get car sick. Avoid giving your cockapoo anything to eat for about two hours before the trip, and do not let him drink too much. Make sure that your dog goes potty before the trip. Keep the car cool, so he does not overheat, which can cause stomach upset. Build up tolerance to motion by taking short trips at first. If your dog does have car-sickness, try to have him in a seat or harness that faces him forward, as looking out side windows at things whizzing by can induce sickness in sensitive dogs. Hopefully these actions will help to prevent accidents from either a frightened or overly excited dog. If they do not, you can talk to your vet about anti-nausea drugs or other over-the-counter options, like diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) which may lessen car sickness. Read this article on preventing motion sickness in dogs for more information.

Wear A Seat Belt: Just as we wear seat belts while driving or riding in a car for our own safety, it is best to secure your dog while he rides. There are numerous products to choose from when selecting a harness or restraining device; dog car safety seats, dog car seat belts, auto barriers, and pet carriers designed for use in vehicles. Do not wait until your dogs first car trip to fit him out with your chosen harness. Give him time to get used to the device first, by wearing it around the house, or when out walking. If you have chosen a dog car safety seat, take the seat into your home first. Let your dog get used to the smell of it, and allow him to use it as a bed before using it in the car. If you have selected a carrier for your dog, then spend time crate training him first. As with all safety devices, once he is used to the new equipment, it will be less stressful for him when he finds it in the car.

Give Them a Familiar Object: If your dog shows any signs of anxiety while riding in the car, try to alleviate the condition by bringing his favorite blanket or toy. If your dog is riding in a carrier or is wearing a seat belt, you might choose to bring his bed along, so he can still sit on something familiar. Bringing familiar objects on a car journey will help to offset the unfamiliarity of the car.

Get Your Pup Used To Riding: Avoid making your dogs first car journey a long, all day event. Start with a few short trips, to the park or to the pet store. No doubt your dog will enjoy such trips, and in time will come to associate being in the car with going to places which are fun. Include other trips such as visiting friends or going to the bank, so that you dog will not conclude that every trip is for his enjoyment.

 In the interests of safety, do not talk to your dog if it distracts you from your driving! Likewise, do not pet your dog while driving, as this will also distract your attention from the road. Additionally, if you were to pet your dog, it would likely encourage your dog to seek further attention from you. Your safety, and that of your family and pet, are paramount and take precedence over petting or coddling your dog in the car.Talk to Your Dog: Each dog is different, and some respond well to the soothing voice of their owner, which helps to calm any nervousness. Unfortunately, other dogs can get excited when their owner speaks, and in such a case it is probably best that you ignore him and do not use your voice to communicate. Avoid scolding your dog, since it is not his fault that he is anxious or nervous. Yelling or being angry will only worsen his mood. Try both silence and soothing speech, and see which method your dog responds best to.

Further, you should not have your dog ride in the front seat of the car, if possible. Many cars have air-bags, particularly in the front, and these are not designed for the safety of dogs! In the event of an accident in which the air-bags are deployed, a dog which is sitting in a front seat is likely to suffer injury, rather than be protected. Instead, if it is possible, have someone whom your dog is familiar with sit with him in the back seat. Such a friend can do much to help to calm your dog while he gets used to riding in your car.
Play Music: Some dogs benefit from soothing music and can experience its calming effect. Consider playing the radio in the car, not only to soothe your dog, but also to help disguise some of the other unfamiliar sounds of the road. Download some relaxing tunes, like easy listening, classical, soft rock, or jazz. A passing truck can be a frightening noise to a dog, whose ears are especially sensitive, and music can help mask the noises. Avoid blaring, heavy music, as this could hurt your dog’s ears and certain types of music may provoke anxiety (As much as adults may like to rock to serious beats, there’s a reason heavy metal is not featured in nursery wards!)
Crack Open The Window: It may sound almost contradictory, but consider opening a window slightly for your dog. You might think that this will make the outside noises all the more loud, but it will also provide numerous smells which will likely distract and excite your dog all the more. Most dogs seem to enjoy open car windows, so give it a try and see how your dog responds. While wearing a restraint, your dog should not be able to stick his head out of the window, but will still manage to catch the exciting smells of the outside world.

Try not to let your dog hang his whole head out the window, as fun as this may be for him. In the driveway or parked it might be OK, but traveling along a street, your dog may suffer injury. This is a likely injury for dogs hanging their heads out of a fast moving vehicle, and is usually the result of something like road debris or an insect hitting the eye. Also, if you are forced to stop short, your dog may be hurt when his body lurches forward in the window frame.

Important Tip: It is imperative never to leave your dog unattended in the car, regardless of the temperature or whether the windows are rolled down. Even in safe conditions, left alone without his owner, your pup may easily become anxious, nervous, and lonely, and justifiably may come to dislike being in the car at all!

In conclusion, try to make riding in the car an enjoyable and safe activity. Take along items which are already familiar to your cockapoo, and take him to fun places like the park. Provide appropriate distractions such as opening a window or playing music, and keep his safety in mind by securing him with an appropriate harness or seat belt. Given time, your dog will likely become accustomed to riding in the car and will find even longer journeys enjoyable.