Dog owner’s question
“Hi! Our Ibizan Hound (Ibizan Hound), her name is Hella, is not very good at travelling. As soon as she gets in the car she whines, shakes and almost panics. Unfortunately we often have to travel long distances and I don’t know how to help her. Do you have any advice?”
Answer from the vet
“Hi! First of all, I totally understand your situation and it is really hard to see our little pet anxious and scared.
Hella’s reaction is not unusual, many dogs experience anxiety in the car and this is especially true for these dogs that are known to be sensitive and prone to stress.
The first step is to understand that anxiety is usually associated with fear.
Hella has either had a bad experience or simply doesn’t understand what happens when she gets in a car. So the goal is to understand and change this behavior!
Travel anxiety is treated step-by-step.
Start by getting Hella used to the car without starting it!
Allow her to explore the car freely without moving around to get her used to the environment. Then you can start taking short trips and gradually increase the length of the journey.
Praise and reward Hella positively when she is calm in the car.
You may find that reward walls or her favourite toys can help with positive reinforcement.
If Hella is still very anxious, talk to your vet.
In some cases, anti-anxiety medication may be necessary, which your vet may prescribe. However, in addition to medication, it is important to continue to work on behaviour modification and environmental changes.
The key is to be patient and not to rush.
Overcoming anxiety takes time and each dog will progress at a unique pace. However, with your persistence and love, you can help Hella understand that the journey can be safe and enjoyable.
Also, because these dogs are active and intelligent, it is important that they receive sufficient physical and mental stimulation before the trip. Exercise in running, playing and agility can all help to reduce stress before the trip.
Remember also that safety first!
Use a car seat belt or dog carrier for Hella during travel to keep her safe and this can also help to relieve anxiety.
I hope these tips help and that Hella will soon feel more relaxed during your travels. Good luck!”