Riding in a car is a treat for most dogs, especially if they are driven to an enjoyable destination. Even if you only take your dog to the local shopping center, an outing will add a little variety to his daily life and widen his horizons.
All pet dogs should be car-trained as puppies. Many of them ride in a car the first time when they are taken to their new home, which leaves an uncertain impression that is partly pleasant and partly scary since it involves an upheaval in their lives. So make your new puppy’s next drive reassuring, like a short trip to some pleasant playground, or simply a 5 or 10 minute spin around the neighborhood before returning to the security of home.
Always wait several hours after a full meal before taking your dog for a drive. Make him ride in the back seat, never on your lap when you are driving. You might cover the seat with an old blanket, well tucked in. Plastic is good protection for the upholstery but is too slippery a footing for a dog. Many dogs enjoy looking out of the window, and if you lower it a few inches they can also enjoy the passing scents.
Small dogs get less pleasure from drives because they seldom see anything but the interior of the car. Many of them simply curl up and go to sleep. Small dogs are also more prone to car sicknesses, probably because they don’t have the visual distractions of larger dogs. Some owners find that if you keep the dog’s enthusiasm high, they won’t be bothered by the car’s movement.
You should never leave your dog alone in the car. But if you have to in an emergency, (hopefully for only a few minutes), be sure to:
— Lock the car doors and leave two windows open a few inches.
— Park your car in a shady place, remembering the sun moves and that your shady spot may turn into a furnace later.
— Never leave your dog in the car in an underground parking place or in a closed garage, and again, never anywhere for a long time.
Old dogs that have trouble moving around, like elderly people benefit the most from going for a drive, as it helps to keep them alert and interested in the outside world when their daily lives have become more restricted. If your dog is one of the youngsters who gets a thrill from riding in the car, dashes to your side as soon as he hears the tinkle of the car keys, and sometimes even tries to stow away, try to give him this simple treat whenever possible. But remember that it is a passing diversion and not a substitute for exercise and play.