The first thing to realize
when dealing with car sickness is that in 95 percent of cases it is
stress related and not motion related. The most
powerful memory imprint of any dog's brain is probably the car ride
was taken away from all it ever new to be safe and secure, its litter
and its mother. The most traumatic memory a young dog has is in
a ride in a car. So it's not surprising that subsequent rides in a car
should evoke very strong mental and subsequent physical trauma.
How Can I
Make My Dog Feel Better?
The solution is very
simple. If the dog has been sick in a car then estimate how long it was
in the car before it was sick, say 20 minutes?
Find a park about 5-10 minutes from home, preferably one just around
corner, even one within walking distance that the dog has been to
before.... but this time drive there. Ideally have someone else in the
too, to soothe the dog and distract him from the ride. Keep him happy
the way to the park. When at the park do all the enjoyable things that
dog loves, fetch the ball, chase the Frisbee, frolic with dad, etc. The
stay at the park doesn't need to be that long.... just as enjoyable as
possible. Then drive the dog home soothing him all the way again and
home make just as much fuss of the dog as you did at the park. Finish
session with his meal or a treat if time and conditions permit.
This exercise is repeated
several times a day or daily if time is limited. Once the dog is
enthusiastic to go in the car then the length of the trip
is lengthened slightly to 10-15 minutes etc. Once you can drive with
dog for 30 minutes with no signs of stress or anxiety then you have the
problem pretty much licked. Some dogs may take a little longer than
The idea is for as many happy repetitions as possible to overwrite the
initial mental imprint the dog has from its youth (or whatever other
caused the initial trauma).
I have had a (client's)
dog that suffered from chronic carsickness totally 'cured' (if that is
the right term) in 3 days. That was with five car trips
per day over the three-day period. The owners were impressed (even if I
so myself) and I am still getting referrals from them as a result.
This method has always
worked, but I have heard of one dog that was sick due to some kind of
balance problems and this method didn't work for it. A
trip to the vet after the method failed brought the problem to the
But if it only works for 95 percent of the dogs it's used on then I
it's quite successful!
Train with trust not fear.
David the Dogman
Extracted with permission from David the Dogman's A-Z Guide to Dogs