Pet Parenting: Tips for traveling with tail-waggers

Dear Denise,

This time of year we travel a lot and we like to bring our dogs along. The problem is one of them always throws up on long car trips and the other one gets really hyper. Do you have any ideas for calming them both?

Dear Mama:

Lots of people want to travel with their dogs this time of year, and lots of dogs don’t travel well. I have had this problem myself. One thing I absolutely DO NOT travel without is Rescue Remedy. You can find this at your local health food store and it is an all-natural stress reliever.

I would suggest a dropper-full for each dog a few minutes before the trip, and then as needed for the duration. A second item I really like to have ‘just in case’ is Comfort Zone. I’ve mentioned this stuff in past answers, but really, I tell you it’s like pet parenting gold. I’d get the spray and give the interior of your car a good spritz before leaving; you can also take this with you and use it when you get where going by spraying it on a bandana and putting around your dogs’ neck. Both of these products, especially when used together, can do wonders for general anxiety.

Now, to address your two individual problems. First, car sickness. There could be a variety of reasons for this from anxiety to motion sickness, and ultimately, you may have to resort to pharmaceuticals. However, there are a few things you can try. If it’s an anxiety issue, then the Rescue Remedy/Comfort Zone cocktail should help.

In addition, to that you may wish to try ‘swaddling’ you dog for extra security. Just like swaddling a baby, this can really calm some dogs. I’ve used it for all kinds of fear related issues with varying amounts of success, but it is worth a try. If your dog has a t-shirt or sweater of his own, put that on him (you can even mist it with Comfort Zone first). If he doesn’t have one or he is too big for a regular dog shirt, try using one of your own. The dog’s head goes in the head of the shirt, his front feet go into the arms. Cut a slit straight up the back, about half way, and then tie it snug but not too tight. Another solution for car sickness is to ride in a closed crate. Sometimes, not seeing the world whizzing by will help.

For the hyper dog, you can use these same techniques, or try a seat belt to keep him from bouncing from window to window. Additionally, a good loooooong walk before the trip and frequent stops should be included, too. Don’t forgot that the dogs also need something to do while traveling. Provide them with a bone or kong (maybe not for the car sick one) to chew, or a toy to squeak in order to keep them occupied.

Denise Holmes is a local pet behavior counselor who owns Ain’t Misbehavin’. She trains animals and also answers pet questions sent in by local moms for us here on nwaMotherlode. Denise has been training for 25 years and is passionate about pets. To send her a question, email it to: mamas@nwaMotherlode.com.

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