If your doggie is a hyper and boisterous bundle of cuteness, then he's probably a handful during the calmest of times. If you combine that intense energy with the unfamiliarity and anxiety of a ride in the car, the results may be quite overwhelming; hello, frantic shuffling and barking.
Placing your dog inside of a cozy crate should be effective in calming him. Most dogs feel more secure and relaxed when inside one. Put some of his favorite toys inside it -- and soft, familiar blankets from home, too. Be careful before you put your doggie inside the crate. Examine it closely for any potential choking or strangulation risks. Also make a point to get your pooch some exercise before he goes into the crate. The last thing you want is for him to feel even more restless. Cover the crate with a towel or blanket if it further calms Mr. Hyper, and run seatbelts around the crate or through its provided clips to keep it stable on the back seat.
Tasty treats may serve as a helpful calming technique for hyper canine travelers. If you keep your pet's brain engaged while also rewarding him with yummy food, there's a good chance he won't be as interested in running frantically back and forth inside of your car and barking incessantly. For example, consider investing in a treat ball toy that disperses food as your doggie makes contact with it. This fun little task may keep your cutie busy for the entire ride -- and keep your sanity and hearing intact.
If the car ride is an extended one, routine breaks are a must in keeping your excited dog more relaxed and serene. Your little one may be barking and pacing out of the desire to get his legs moving -- he's probably not used to being cooped up in small, cramped spaces for long periods. Allow your pooch to bring off his excess nervous energy and make sure to take him for a stroll and some fresh air. Make sure your pet also uses those breaks for going to the bathroom, too.
The calmer and more composed you behave, the calmer and more composed your dog may behave, too. Keep your cool even if your dog is acting like a nervous wreck. Speak in even tones, avoid raising your voice and give him some positive enforcement if he quiets down -- if even just for a second. In a soft and relaxed voice, say "Good boy," for example, whenever he acts in a more laid-back manner. Avoid scolding your dog in the car -- all that will accomplish is making him even more frightened and hyper.
Avoid offering your dog anti-anxiety or motion sickness medication without your veterinarian’s approval. Play it smart and safe for your doggie's sake.
To prevent hyper car situations, conduct car dress rehearsals with your doggie in the days leading up to your ride. You can leave the car parked or if you do actually drive, keep the duration short and the destination innocuous -- a local park, for instance. Train your doggie to understand that being in the car is not a reason to freak out.
- North Shore Animal League America: How Can I Calm My Excited Dog During Car Rides?
- The Humane Society of the United States: Road Trip! Is Your Pet Travel-Ready?
- ASPCA: Road Trips With Your Dog
- ASPCA: Fear of Riding in Cars
- American Kennel Club: Traveling With Your Dog
- The Humane Society of the United States: Traveling By Car With Pets