Dogs as a species tend to be very enthusiastic about pretty much everything, and if it involves spending time with their family, going somewhere new and sniffing and seeing a whole host of things, even more so! One of the things that dogs tend to really enjoy is going for a ride in the car, whether that be a short hop to the shops or a longer journey through the countryside or along a motorway-at least, this is usually the case, once dogs have gotten used to it, which can take some time when they are younger.
Car journeys are of course rather a strange concept for dogs, and some dogs are nervous or reluctant about them at first, and may even feel travel sick their first few times-but because car trips are a part of day to day life for most dogs, any problems usually settle down quickly.
Many dogs will leap straight into the car as soon as you go to it, whether you intended to take them with you or not, and be very keen to go for a ride-but have you ever wondered why this is, and what exactly it is about car trips that dogs really enjoy? In this article, we will answer this question! Read on to learn more.
The first time a puppy ever rides in a car is something that can be rather strange and unnerving for them, and this means that that first journey and the few following it will be filled with plenty of encouragement, attention and treats from the dog’s owner. This helps to ensure that the pup begins to build up positive associations with travel, and once this has been achieved, the dog will retain such associations for the rest of their lives, unless something should happen to frighten them or otherwise put them off.
Some people take their dog with them when they just pop out to the shops or to pick the kids up from school while others only take their dog in the car if the journey is necessary for the dog. However, all dogs that travel in the car at some point will have been taken to somewhere they really enjoyed, such as to a new park or area to walk, to visit their favourite person or otherwise a place that the dog anticipates and remembers happily.
Ensuring that you use your car to take your dog to things they like-as well as things they might not like, such as the vet-will help to ensure that they will get into the car happily and will be quite keen to go back to the same place and/or be willing to get into the car when you really need them to!
Many people use a crate in the car to secure their dogs, and this is a very good idea in order to keep your dog safe, even if you don’t use a crate for your dog within the home. However, even if you don’t have a crate or carrier in the car for your dog, the chances are that they will have a set corner or seat that they head to every time, either because that is where you tell them to sit or because that is where they want to be! Having this type of familiarity and a corner or seat that is theirs is something that dogs find reassuring and comforting, and will make them feel happy and reassured when they are in it.
One often overlooked element of what makes car trips appealing to dogs is the fact that the nature of the journey means that there will always be at least one person in the car with the dog as continual company, or a captive audience, as it were! As a highly social species, dogs are much happier when someone is with them-even if when that person is concentrating on something else, like the road!
Car-travelling dogs will usually have their heads glued to the window (or sticking out of it if given the chance) and the speed and range of a car trip will give your dog a constantly changing screen-show of things passing by, including other people and dogs.
Dogs rarely get bored on car journeys (although they may become restless due to a need to stretch their legs) due to the amount of things there are to see and think about along the way!
While it is certainly true that there are lots of things to see for a dog when out in the car, this is nothing compared to the sheer range of smells that will bombard their senses through a slightly open window.
The speed of a travelling car whips all of these thousands of distinct scents up into a whirl that is enthralling for your dog, forming a continually changing kaleidoscope of new smells that will hold their attention and keep them occupied almost indefinitely.
Finally, it is important to remember that for a dog that travels regularly, they will see your car as part of their extended territory, or as a second territory-much like a holiday home! This will make your dog feel important when out in the car and as if they must defend their territory from others, which is why dogs in parked cars are often apt to bark and make a fuss at passers by!
Because most people are doing just that-passing by, not coming to your car-a dog that barks at people outside will feel as if they have successfully seen them off, reinforcing their own sense of self-importance and making them feel justified and proud too!