View Full Version : Carsickness?

29th September 2012, 07:53 PM
Ok, I know how important car seats are for dogs and I have one but I will shamefully admit I don't use it. I need help finding something that will be good for a dog who has trouble in the car. When I put him in the car seat he freaks out and tries to get out to the point it hurts him. He has a real problem in the car.

At first I thought maybe he's scared. He has to be in my lap and his whole body shakes. He will usually calm down after awhile. My mom and step dad took Elton to the beach this weekend because I'm going out of town for work. I spend a lot of time with them and he's real comfortable with them so it's not that. My mom said Elton was having a hard time in the car. She had to sit in the backseat with him. He did not like when they had to stop or slowed down.

Do you think it's carsickness, nerves or something else? He doesn't get sick (vomit) so i never thought it was carsick. I want to find something for my car that will make him comfortable and safe for not only him but me too. It's really hard driving with him in my lap etc. I've tried two different carseats, a harness that straps to seatbelt, a net that is meant to keep him in the back but he finds a way to either get tangled up or goes crazy.

Anything you know that can help him?


29th September 2012, 09:28 PM
I can't speak for Elton, but my family's border collie would absolutely panic in the car, drooling insanely, trying to walk all over the place, he was obviously distressed. The other 2 dogs were totally fine.

But, the same freaked out dog in a crate in the back (this was an SUV), was the best rider imaginable. He would get in his crate and was perfectly calm, no drooling, no struggling, no fear. All I had to do was open the door of the crate and he jumped straight in.

He would drive cross-country with me (to and from college- Colorado to new Orleans) 4 times a year, and shorts trips to visit my roommate's horses and around town several times a week. As long as he had his crate he was an angel, but he never got over his fear of the car otherwise (I tried the dog seatbelts, and a few other options over the years).

Alternatively, I really love the sturdibags I own for my cavaliers. I feel they are the safest option for a cav in a car. They attach firmly and securely to the seat using built in straps that the seatbelt passes through (in the backseat of any modern car the seatbelts will go into lock mode after being pulled all the way out). The carrier is soft sided, so if you were in an accident the dog isn't thrown against a hard wall. The flaps can be closed so the dog is in a little "cave", which may help Elton's anxiety.

With dogs (and cats, and horses,...) being able to see what's happening is usually more stressful than being safely hidden in a box. This is counter-intuitive for us humans who always feel a need to see everything.

29th September 2012, 09:32 PM
Its a super bad idea to drive with your dog on your lap. In New Jersey they trying to pass a law about it (extreme I know but) I have a really nice car seat for Fletcher he loves it and has NEVER tried to climb out HOWEVER its really not that safe either therefore I went back to using a travel crate which I have to admit he likes less. Mine is a soft one and I do clip it into the regular seat belt because I don't want it tipping over. I put him in back seat next to my son and I use one of those baby mirrors (so when I look in the rear view I can see him in the crate) and I give him a chew he really likes I also use the same small doggie bed from his crate. I think it helps. Fletcher is in the car with us daily so its important he is safe too.
Perhaps Elton will feel more secure in a crate not "surfing" all over a moving car. Give up in the doggie car seats. When I bring the travel car seat inside Fletcher will go sleep in to from time to time maybe that's a good way to introduce it to Elton. Just leave it where he can "meet" it and throw in a dog blanket and a stuffed kong or a fresh antler I bet it helps.

30th September 2012, 07:57 PM
I would suggest you train him. Every single day take him out and put him in the car for a second and give him a really good treat. When he is comfortable with that, leave him in the car a bit long and give a treat every minute or so. Then do the same but turn the car on (don't drive it yet though) and give treats. If at any point he starts stressing, revert to the previous step. After he is comfortable in a running, but not moving care for 10 minutes or so drive a few feet and treat. After he is comfortable with the few feet, maybe pull in and out of the driveway and give treats. Then drive around the block and give treats. And so on and so forth.

Bach's Rescue Remedy (http://www.bachflower.com/Rescue_Remedy.htm) or Dog Appeasing Pheromones (http://www.dogappeasingpheromone.com/) (spray) may help too.

30th September 2012, 10:27 PM
I agree with Mishathepooh--he just needs training and desensitizing to the car as an environment. What she described works very well. Two extra notes: make sure car rides don't always end someplace such as the vet's office (build in some fun destinations) and when he gets anxious in the car, don't comfort him or fuss over him. That just reinforces with him that something is wrong and he's right to feel anxious.

I think your dog has car anxiety. Other things that can help in case the training doesn't completely eliminate it are: a thundershirt or a very tight T-shirt and melatonin. The latter is a natural substance, available in pharmacies in the vitamin section. It works as a sleep aid for humans but in about 80% of dogs, it cause relaxation. I've know people who give it to their dogs whenever they take them out in the car.

Good luck. Hope your pup gets over his anxiety.

30th September 2012, 10:49 PM
So sorry I really don't have any ideas for you. It does sound like something about the car ride really causes him anxiety though.

Has his fly-catching gotten better?

murphy's mum
1st October 2012, 09:58 AM
We used to have our pair behind a dog guard in the boot of the car, but Murphy used to get anxious with that set up. He used to just stand and lick the bar constantly, and would end up drooling too. We moved both of them into the back seat wearing harnesses, with a seat cover down, and then two thick cushion dog beds, cut to the size of the back seat. The cushions are so they can see out the window, which has made him a lot happier :)

Misha's idea of desensitizing sound like a really good one.

8th October 2012, 03:33 AM
OMG, please do not even consider doing this!!!

This is not just a 'I know I shouldn't do this' thing, it is a life endangering, totally insane thing to do. :(

It is dangerous to the driver, to Elton, and to other innocent people on the road or a bicycle or walking down the street to drive with a dog in your lap as one small move or slip and not just Elton but you or other people could be dead. Elton would be decapitated or crushed if you braked hard or crashed and set off an airbag. :(

It is also very dangerous for someone in the back to have him on their lap. Life-threatening to him and to others in the car -- even a crash at 35mph could catapult Elton at a speed that would break the neck of a child or adult in the car (and break his neck).

Sorry if that seems harsh but doing this is as dangerous as driving with a toddler on the lap or driving drunk.

If you have no other way of managing him I would not drive with him at all. On car seats: I personally hate those dog car seats and they are not particularly safe. Most dogs will travel easily and definitely more safely inside a hard crate, and anxious dogs are a lot happier with something like a light towel covering the crate so they cannot see out. Rescue people transport dogs all the time this way and not only is it safest for the dog, it is definitely the best for anxious dogs.

Most dogs will settle over time when properly & safely restrained though as well. Often the issue is owner anxiety as much as dog anxiety. If people keep looking at their dog, talking and trying to calm them, then their anxiety actually gets rewarded every single time. Anxiety = owner attention! I've driven hundreds of rescue dogs and almost every one will gradually settle if ignored. Only one or two have ever been really difficult to transport even those who start very whiny and anxious. I also play relaxing music when driving. But I never give feedback to the whiny anxious dog (and therefore say without meaning to): "Yes please keep doing this!" :thmbsup:

8th October 2012, 03:40 AM
From one article:

“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2400 pounds of pressure,” said Beth Mosher, AAA Director of Public Affairs. “Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”

Read more: http://wot.motortrend.com/dogs-contribute-to-distracted-driving-aaa-study-finds-8634.html#ixzz28fh4izn8

And another, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-04/vehicle-pet-restraint-laws/55384736/1:

States unleash laws on restraining pets while driving
By Jim Walsh, Phil Dunn, and Alesha Williams Boyd Updated 6/4/2012 6:12 PM

Not all driving distractions ring or beep. Some of them bark.

And so, animal protection and automobile safety officials nationwide are starting to unleash a new message: Restrain your pet on the road.

"You wouldn't put your child in the car unrestrained, so you shouldn't put your pet in the car unrestrained, either," says Col. Frank Rizzo, superintendent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA).

In a 2010 survey by AAA, 20% of participants admitted to letting their dog sit on their lap while driving. A "staggering" 31% said they were distracted by their dog while driving, says Raymond Martinez, chairman of New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission.

"What people come to realize only too late is that animals act like flying missiles in an impact and can not only hurt themselves but hurt their human family members, too," Rizzo says.

Only a few states have passed legislation requiring animal restraints in moving vehicles, and in some of those states laws apply only to animals riding in the exterior of the vehicle, such as the bed of a pickup, according to AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association.

•In New Jersey, under state law, NJSPCA officers can stop a driver they believe is improperly transporting an animal. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000 per offense, and a driver can face a disorderly person's offense under animal-cruelty laws.
•Hawaii explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet on their lap. In Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, distracted-driving laws can be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps.
•In Rhode Island, Democratic state Rep. Peter Palumbo has proposed legislation to make having a dog in your lap a distracted-driving violation after a complaint from someone who witnessed a driver, whose view was blocked by a lap dog, change lanes.

"Pet restraint is a somewhat emerging issue," AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter says. "While some states do have legislation in place, there is much more to be done regarding tracking of these laws, filling gaps in states that do not yet have laws and education on the importance of restraining pets in moving vehicles, to protect the pet and all family members."

Numerous types of restraints are available at pet supply stores, websites and department stores. Among options are dog harnesses, which go around the body of the dog and clip into the regular seat belt buckle, according to the dog safety website canineauto.com. Dog safety seats and travel crates are other choices.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash, Hunter says.

"It's really up to the owner, but people take a gamble when they put their animals in the front seat," says Kristina Dello of Cherry Hill.