One of the commonest dog-specific phobias is the fear of riding in a car. Unlike most other phobias, however, it happens to most dogs. To keep your dog remotely interested in the car ride, you must learn some ways to entertain your dog throughout the ride, but how can you achieve this?
If you notice signs of boredom or stress in your dog during car rides, you can alleviate that by providing some toys, chews, and bones to keep them busy throughout the ride. You should also try to tire out your dog by teaching them a trick to help them sleep, alleviating some of your dog-sitting load.
If you’re going on a relatively long trip with your dog, there are many different ways to keep it entertained. If you’re running short of ideas, this article can help, as I’ll be outlining many different ways to entertain your dog in a long ride.
Do Dogs Get Bored in Cars?
Before learning how to entertain your dog during a ride, it’s important to know if the efforts are even worth it. If dogs don’t get bored during car rides, it will be pretty pointless to constantly try to entertain them, won’t it?
It seems like riding in a car stresses dogs out. While they can’t communicate their thoughts and feelings like humans, their actions during car rides, especially long ones closely match their actions when they’re bored, leading to this conclusion.
It’s also crucial to understand that boredom isn’t the only thing dogs feel when they go on car rides. The unnatural environment and speed also scare and stress them, and it’s up to you to make them feel safe.
If you’re not sure if your dog is bored during a ride, there are some signs to look out for. If your dog expresses any of the following signs during a car ride, it’s usually either bored of the ride or almost scared out of its skin.
1. Attempting escape
This is an inevitable scenario, especially when you’re going on your first ever car ride with your dog. If your dog constantly tries to climb out the window while your car is in motion, you’re probably not doing a great job entertaining it.
Sometimes, they may give up trying to escape when they discover it’s impossible. Instead, they’ll try to hide behind any obstacle or even behind their owners. All signs of unrest show that your dog needs some extra entertainment.
Dogs bark all the time; when they’re happy, sad, angry, or scared. But, if your dog barks incessantly during a long car ride, it almost certainly means they’re either scared or bored and in some cases, both can kick in at the same time.
Most times, they bark intensively to get your attention, as they believe you should be able to save them from stressful situations. In this case, you should endeavor to relieve the stress using tried and tested methods, some of which will be explained later.
3. Shaking and panting
You may have seen your dog shaking on a visit to the vet or after a bath. If you look deeper, you’ll notice the justifications for their shaking in those situations. However, if your dog begins to shake outside of the normal scenarios, it’s usually a sign of stress or boredom.
Why Do Dogs Hate Car Rides?
If you’ve ever attempted to carry your dog along on a car ride, you’ll understand how resistant they are to it. Most people can’t help but ask why this is the case for almost every dog.
There are many reasons why a dog might not want to travel in a car, but the most common one is because the ride feels unfamiliar. The unusual noise around the car, the smell, the feel of being in a mobile vehicle, all can be too much for a dog to process at once, leading to rebellious behavior.
Also, most dogs have associated cars with a negative memory. For most dogs, the only time they have to ride in a car is when they have to go to a veterinarian. Since most pets hate going to the vet and they think cars are a device specifically made for that, their response to car rides becomes more logical.
Lastly, your dog may just be car-sick. This condition makes it even more difficult to train your dog to tolerate car rides. Since they always get sick when they get into a car, they never want to, for very obvious reasons.
How Do I Entertain My Dog in a Long Car Ride?
If you’ve seen the visible signs of stress or boredom in your dog during previous car rides, you must do better to entertain them on future rides. If you generally find it difficult to keep your dog entertained, you’re not alone; most people also struggle with the same problem.
That doesn’t make a valid excuse for transporting a stressed dog in your car. Instead of giving up on trying to give your dog a better riding experience, here are some tips to help entertain your dog during lengthy car rides.
1. Bring their favorite toys along
The goal here is to entertain your dog, and there is no better way to do that than using their toys. Ideally, your dog should have many toys that it will be impossible to bring all of them in a car at once. However, you know their favorite toys and you should always travel with a couple of those.
In addition to some of their favorite toys, you should also bring some chews and bones along. Finding a convenient way to keep your puppy busy will greatly reduce the chances of it acting up during the ride.
2. Practice ahead
Before taking your dog along on a long ride, you should consider taking short practice trips to help your dog get accustomed to traveling in a car. The short trips don’t have to be to any specific destination; you can drive around the neighborhood or to places not too far away.
On your first few rides, you should consider taking your puppy to an interesting destination. If your first ride was to veterinarians, your dog will associate car rides with negativity, making it difficult to keep them in check during a lengthier ride.
3. Teach your dog a trick
A car might not seem like an ideal place to work on a new trick with your dog, but it works. The main goal shouldn’t be to get your dog to master the trick, instead, you want to keep the dog entertained to alleviate their stress throughout the ride.
It’s crucial to understand that you can only teach your dog a new trick if you’re a passenger. It will be incredibly unsafe to try working on a trick with your dog, while you’re trying to steer your car.
If you will be the driver, you can get one of the passengers to try teaching the dog a trick while you go on with the ride. If you’ll be having no passengers, then it’s unideal to take your dog along. However, you can still make it work using the other suggestions in this article.
4. Tire out the dog
If you’re going on a trip with your dog, it’s hard to keep them well-behaved if they’re all fired up and energetic. This is especially true for small, young dogs, as they’re usually the hardest to control.
Try to tire out your dog immediately before embarking on the trip. Walking (or more preferably, running) your dog right before getting into the car will help the dog feel tired and hungry for rest, giving you some time while it tries to catch some rest during the journey.
5. Take breaks
Ideally, you should take occasional breaks every so often while embarking on a long car ride. If you’re bringing your dog along, it becomes even more important, as your dog needs even more breaks than you do during a ride.
Just like humans, dogs also have short attention spans. They find it even more stressful than you do to sit through a three-hour ride without any breaks. To correct this, you need to stop every two to three hours to try something other than cruising down the highway.
When you stop to take a break in the middle of a car ride, you should try some energetic exercises with your dog to tire them out before continuing the trip. This will help keep them quiet while you drive; they may even sleep if your exercises are tiring enough.
6. Bring some treats along
If the ride is long enough for you to stop for food on the way, you should also pack some food along for your dog. However, if you plan to survive through the entire trip without any food, you should try to bring some treats for your dog to help them tolerate the experience.
If your dog owns toys with spaces for treats, you can use them to feed it treats. When you treat it like this during a long ride, it will generally associate car rides with the happy memories of getting entertained while getting free treats, and you won’t have hard times with the dog on future trips.