If this has never been a problem for you, you may take it for granted that our Chihuahuas are calm and content while riding in the car. However, it can be a very stressful or, even, scary experience for a lot of Chihuahuas. The stress can cause them to whine, bark or heavily pant the entire time. They may even become car sick.
Consider this…you know from self-experience that if you are just the slight bit stressed about something, you can get yourself whipped up into even more of a stressful state with very little effort. This can be your Chihuahua when riding in a car.
Below are five tips to help your Chihuahua get used to the car and to make sure riding in the car remains a positive experience for your newly adopted Chihuahua, whether puppy or adult
1. Puppies to ride in the car straightaway
If you have just collected your puppy and are taking him home, then now is the time to take him in the car. The sooner the better. Wrapped in his blanket with his toy on your knee or alternatively in his travel bag with his blanket and toy will help make him feel calm and relaxed. You could always take a couple of small treats with you! Remember this…you are trying to give him a positive experience, as this will help him as he gets older.
Before you leave to collect your new puppy check, out if there is a nearby park or safe fun place you can drive to after you have collected him. You want to ease him into car travel gradually, so having somewhere you can stop off with a short drive is perfect. That way, he can experience the drive then have fun. Once the fun stop is over, he will be wrapped up again on your knee to go to his new home. This is a great way to start getting your puppy used to car rides.
For those of you with adult Chihuahuas, don’t worry, it’s not too late for your Chihuahua either.
2. Adult Chihuahuas Overcoming Car Rides
Helping your adult Chihuahua to overcome car rides may take a little longer than with a puppy. Your aim is to reduce or stop your Chihuahua’s anxiety when he gets into a car. It’s a good idea to start out by encouraging your Chihuahua to lie down calmly in the car while you give him treats or a massage without driving anywhere. Take his favorite blanket and place it in the car so he knows that is a familiar place to lie down.
Over time you would gradually increase the time in the car and start the engine. After a while if you feel your Chihuahua is calm and relaxed you could start to drive to nearby, fun places like a park or play area. This will help your adult Chihuahua get used to the car and hopefully not be so stressed. If you feel you need to reinforce the time in the car, invite him in on his cover to hang out while you are cleaning the car etc.
The more time your Chihuahua spends in your car, whether stationery or moving, the more comfortable and less stressed he will feel.
3. Keep the rides short and positive.
Some Chihuahuas are scared or nervous riding in the car because of past negative experiences. They may have experienced motion sickness, a rough ride or left in a car on their own. Any of these situations could make your Chihuahua a nervous rider.
Also, some Chihuahuas are just fearful of new things by nature and have trouble coping with new experiences. Knowing your Chihuahua and knowing what they like to do will help you with this. If he loves the park, drive to the park to throw is favorite ball. If he likes a particular chew, keep this for the car rides so he knows he gets his special treat. Keeping the drive short and making it tailor made and full of positivity for your Chihuahua will help immensely.
4. How to Prevent motion sickness
Some Chihuahuas get motion sickness easier than others, but it helps if your Chihuahua does not have a full or a completely empty stomach. Try to think of this when you are arranging when you will be taking him in the car. The worst thing is to feed your little chap and then jump straight into the car, expecting it to be a stress-free ride – it’s not!
You should also ensure you Chihuahua has been to the bathroom before travelling, as this can cause stress all on its own.
It’s also a good idea to avoid sudden, sharp turns. Try to drive as though you have something you don’t want to spill in the car. You may laugh but it does help.
5. Use a carrier or dog seat-belt
Some Chihuahuas will feel more comfortable riding in a dog carrier. These can be bought to look like a lady’s purse or a soft sided dog carrier. Putting their favorite blanket in the carrier will help them settle and, at first, if you have a passenger in the car, they can place the bag on their knee. This will help the Chihuahua calm down.
A dog seat belt can also help some Chihuahuas. Not only will a dog seat belt keep your Chihuahua safer if you’re ever in an accident, but it will prevent a nervous Chihuahua from pacing around the car. If the Chihuahua is unable to pace, he is more likely to settle down. Keeping their favorite cover in the car will encourage the Chihuahua to lie on this and settle themselves. This often teaches the Chihuahua to stay calm. He is also less of a distraction for the driver.
If your Chi does better in the car by being distracted then you might want to consider a booster seat so he can look out of the window.
After trying all the above steps and your Chihuahua is still experiences problems in the car, talk with your Chihuahua’s vet about other options. You may also need to seek help from a behaviorist or certified dog behavior consultant to address your Chihuahua’s anxiety during traveling in the car.
One last tip, it’s always a good idea to have a pet first aid kit in the car so that you are prepared for any small mishaps.