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Thread: Carsickness?

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  1. #1
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    Default Carsickness?

    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?

    Thanks
    Anne Proud mother of Elton 5 and Angel Ella

  2. #2
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    Default

    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.

  3. #3
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    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.
    Melissa
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

  4. #4
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    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 or Dog Appeasing Pheromones (spray) may help too.

  5. #5
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    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.

  6. #6
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    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?

  7. #7
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    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.
    Paula - mum to Murphy(6) & Misty(7), and Jerry our cat.

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