By Russ Taylerson
One of the many joys for me when heading off on holiday is the thought of my dogs charging around on the beach on near-endless walks on warm sunny days. Just like me, they revel in the feeling of warm sand between their toes and a paddle to cool down.
But for us, there is a downside ahead of all this fun. The journey itself.
Where our terrier has no qualms leaping into the car whatever the outing, the collie has made his opinion on car travel abundantly clear on many occasions.
I’m sure he’s not the only canine with an aversion to the automobile, but how should we lower the anxiety our dogs suffer when faced with a trip out?
We spoke to Pooch & Mutt’s in-house vet Linda to get the lowdown on calming down your dog when travelling.
“Not every dog is the perfect passenger and some suffer from anxiety and/or travel sickness when in a moving vehicle,” she said.
And, there are signs to watch out for. Your dog may bark, whine, drool, pant or vomit once the car starts moving. All worrying signs of an animal in distress.
Although not all dogs will overcome the anxiety suffered during journeys - our collie is now 12 years old and just as unhappy as he ever was - for many, it is a trait they will grow out of.
Repetition can be the key to a happy traveller suggests Linda: “Get your pooch used to the car by taking small journeys frequently ahead of time.”
Start with putting the dog in the car without going anywhere offering fuss or their favourite toy to reinforce a positive experience. In this situation treats may also help, try Pooch & Mutt’s Relaxed and Calm mini-bone treats, designed with anxious pooches in mind these treats include chamomile and valerian root, which promote calmness and aid sleep.
Repeat the process for as long as necessary until they appear relaxed and happy.
Then it’s time to move, with the dog harnessed or in a travel crate, take a short journey, even to the end of the drive and back. Again, repeat this process until the dog is calm and relaxed.
If like me, you’ve accepted that your dog just doesn’t enjoy car journeys, Linda suggests planning ahead of the journey.
“Before heading off avoid giving your dog a heavy meal, this could lead to vomiting if they suffer from travel sickness.
“It’s also a good idea to head out on a walk ahead of the trip, an exercised dog tends to be more relaxed,” she said.
Finally, you’re all set to go, but there’s one more thing you can do. Pheromones are thought to help with anxiety in dogs, they are available either as a spray or collar.
Spraying a blanket with pheromones and placing it close to the dog should help to calm them,” says Linda, “it is also important to keep a window slightly ajar to allow a cool breeze to circulate.”
Pit stops are another vital addition to calming arsenal. “By providing lots of opportunities for your furry friend to stretch their legs and have a sniff around, you can prevent frustration.”
It is also a great idea to pack a collapsible water bowl and small, digestible meals for them to snack on when out of the car.
“How long your dog can go between stops will depend on its breed and temperament, but the more stops the better,“ comments Linda.
Pooch and Mutt stock a range of treats that can help keep Fido happy while out in the car.
Pooch & Mutt’s Calming mini-bone treats are ideal for long journeys and holidays and you may wish to start feeding them a few weeks before the trip, as well as for the duration of it.
“This”, Linda says “can help your dog cope with the new environment and take the change in their stride.
“Remember though, make any food transitions gradually as you don’t want to be dealing with a dodgy stomach while travelling.”
The treats are especially good for rewarding your dog for remaining settled when in the car and can help reinforce good behaviour while travelling. The cylindrical tube fits beautifully in most coffee cup holders and should fit plenty of treats for the ride. The chamomile and L Tryptophan contained should help to minimise stress and may even promote a restful nap.
“If your dog does vomit, clean the mess and reassure your travel companion that all is okay.
“Give them lots of love as they’re likely not feeling great. If possible, pull over and let them step outside for some fresh air.
For the nauseous traveller, it may be worth speaking to your vet about prescription anti-nausea medicine.
Hopefully, summer’s on the way, we will be able to head away for a week or so with our furry friends and with a little planning, they will hopefully enjoy the time away just as much as you!
The products in this article are available with 30 per cent off for Team Dogs followers, when placing your order at Pooch & Mutt just enter TEAMDOGS at the checkout stage the discount will be applied to your order.