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Car

When a Chihuahua Dislikes the Car

Overview

One of the things that is so great about having a Chihuahua is that the dog is so small, it is easy to take him with you just about anywhere. There may be a lot of places that you wish to drive to and wouldn't it be great if your Chihuahua loved going in the car with you? 

Even some stores that do not allow pets, will make an exception when a small Chi is carried in a canine sling or tote bag. The problem that many owners face, is actually getting the dog to the location.

When you love your dog, you don't want to leave him at home unless you have to. But what do you do when your Chihuahua hates being in the car? There are several elements involved when driving with your pooch is a problem.
Tiny Chihuahua in toy car
One reason why you Chihuahua may not like being in the car is because of motion sickness. Many people get this and so can dogs. For some dogs, it can be an issue of feeling confined and this can cause quite a bit of restlessness.

There are a few things to help with this:

1) Use the right canine car seat. While one option for pet owners is a restraint belt, this does not work well with the Chihuahua breed. You'll want to obtain a raised car seat that brings the Chihuahua up high enough to be able to look out of the windows.

Motion sickness occurs when the body feels movement but the eyes to not see it; this can cause health issues such as nausea, dizziness and for some dogs, vomiting.

2) Timing of Food - If a dog tends to vomit while being driven, a meal before leaving is not a good idea. If you must take your Chihuahua in the car, try to time it to drive at least one hour after eating so that food has a chance to settle.

About 20 minutes before leaving, feed your Chi a light snack. Crackers work well, as they can help to absorb stomach acids that may churn up. 

3) Distraction- Once you have your Chihuahua safely in his car seat, offer one of his favorite toys; a small Kong filled with peanut butter works well as a distraction.

4) Window - Open the window a bit if the weather allows for it. Even though your puppy or dog will not be able to stick his head out of the window like some larger breeds can do, feeling the fresh air rushing in can help a Chi feel much better and have a better sense that his body is correct that there is movement.
5) Incentive - For Chihuahua that really dislike being in a car, it is important to teach the dog that the destination is worth the trip. Always give praise and a special treat at the journey's end.

6) Gradual Tolerance - For dogs that truly hate being in the car, there may need to be some desensitization training before heading out for a usual drive.
 
Begin with short drives and check your Chi's behavior. For dogs that have a phobia of cars, just going back and forth in the driveway may be needed at first. 

Give praise and reward if the Chi handles things - even for one or two minutes. Practice every day if possible.

Graduate to driving down a few streets in the neighborhood.
Keep an eye on behavior and stop driving when the Chihuahua appears to be getting restlessness. Offer praise and reward

In this way, you can keep extending the distance that you drive, allowing the Chihuahua to learn that having tolerance brings about reward. With incremental increases in driving distance, a dog can learn to handle the car a bit better.

Severe Motion Sickness

If a dog has a serious problem with motion sickness the involves vomiting and excessive drooling and the above steps to not offer relief - and if driving is necessary - prescribed anti-nausea medication or antihistamines can help. These cannot be taken daily for long periods of time; they will be reserved for days that taking a Chihuahua for a ride is unavoidable.
What if I Need to Drive Far?

Long drives with your Chihuahua just need some planning. You can begin by taking longer and longer drives to allow your dog to become accustom to the feeling and learn that all is safe as described above. If you make your destination a fun event, this can teach a dog to look forward to getting into the car.

When you are ready to take that long drive, bring all of the necessities and more. Water is crucially important, as is a first aid kit, plenty of food, toys, blanket, and any items that will make a dog feel at home when out on the road.

A big element of taking a long ride, is to plan to stop about every hour. Make sure to stop in an area that will not add more stress. Stopping on the side of a highway could be quite terrifying to a little dog. A park or a quiet parking lot is a much better idea.

These stops will allow your dog to stretch his legs, have some water, be able to eliminate and have a break from the motion of the moving car. If you plan the stops for each hour, your Chihuahua will become use to knowing a break is soon to come and will not be so anxious.  
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