How to Survive a Car Ride with an Anxious Dog

Friday, June 29, 2012

So the more time I spend with Archie, the more I feel he's good preparation for a baby.

Actually, I'm not even sure a baby will be as high maintenance as Archie is.

That's a joke.  Mostly.  But there's always time to talk about that -- this post is about car rides.

Archie doesn't like them.

At all.

I don't know why, but for some reason, he seems to have a lot of anxiety when he's in the car.  He cries, he whines, he whimpers -- and it doesn't really let up.  It doesn't exactly make for a pleasant car ride.

But look at that face -- who could be annoyed with that face?
So how do we deal with it?  A few ways, actually.

First, Archie gets Benadryl at least an hour before we leave.  I did clear this with a vet, and she says it's okay.  The general rule of thumb is 1mg of Bendadryl per pound, and each tablet is 25mg.  It's safe for dogs, and you can round up a bit -- like, if your dog weighs 40 pounds, it's okay to give him 50mg (2 tablets).  Obviously, you can cut pills into smaller pieces for smaller dogs.  They can be given every six hours.  My mom has actually been using the Meltaways (basically like Listerine strips of Benadryl) with her dog, and she says it works pretty well.  Archie gets pills, and he doesn't really like them.  I've tried hiding them in cheese, but he's too smart for that.  So I pretty much have to make him take it.  It's not pretty, but it gets the job done.

We have a couple of blankets that are "Archie's".  When we travel, one goes on his side of the backseat to give him a better sense of security and comfort.  This also came in handy the time we gave him a Chewnola on the way to see my parents -- my backseat ended up not being covered in dog drool-covered oats.  Good deal.

When Archie was a puppy, one of us (and by us, I mean myself and Tom, not myself and Archie) would usually drive while the other held him on his/her lap.  Sometimes, like when I'd take Archie to the vet while Tom was working, that just wasn't an option.  Well, little three-month-old Archie found it necessary to climb over from the passenger seat and climb behind my back.  Thankfully, the drive was short (like five minutes, and only a minute or so of that had him behind me), but it was still a really weird/potentially dangerous situation.  We wanted to avoid that in the future, especially because it made me feel like a really irresponsible pet owner.

When we were preparing to move to Florida, I knew there was no way I was driving all that way with Archie roaming around the car.  He was going to be strapped in, and darn it, he was going to like it! (Well, maybe not, but he was going to deal with it).  He was pretty much done growing at that point, but a lot of the "car seat" type things for dogs his size were expensive, and weren't really an option.  I looked into seat belt harnesses, and decided that would be a good route for us.  So we went to PetSmart and came home with the Easy Rider Car Harness.  

Here is Archie back in March, wearing the harness for the first time.
It's worked out really well for us.  The front is lined with (I'm assuming faux) shearling to increase comfort.  There's a loop on the back to slide the seat belt through.  This allows the dog to lay down, or sit, or stand with ease, all while keeping them safely tethered to the seat.  This is great for Archie, because when he does calm down, he sometimes likes to look out the window.

I also always make sure he has a lovey with him to keep him company.  We try to give him a distracting treat of some sort as well, to keep him preoccupied.  For his first big car ride, we gave him a Chewnola (basically a granola-covered bone), which kept him occupied for a good half hour (plus he LOVED it).  The other day, we stuffed his Kong bone with jerky treats, which wasn't quite as successful.

If all else fails, sit in the back with him.  We did this the other day; it wasn't the ideal situation, but it did help calm him down immensely.

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