- avoid feeding shortly before your journey
- keep the vehicle cool
- make sure your puppy is comfortable and restrained securely
- close doors gently
- drive considerately
The most common reason in puppies is motion sickness which often improves with age, perhaps as their balance system matures. However, stress can also become a factor as the puppy begins to associate the vehicle with feeling unwell so that this over-rides the natural improvement.
Although, vomiting is the obvious sign but there are others such as: panting, yawning, lip licking, drooling, restlessness, whining
In the meantime, puppies will need to travel to their vet, puppy classes etc. but it is important to try to avoid forming negative associations with car journeys from the beginning.
A puppy’s first travel experience to your home can be traumatic for them, however, if the breeder introduces the litter to car journeys with their mother this is less likely. Ask the breeder to avoid feeding your puppy close to collection time and to give them a chance to toilet.
For the journey, prepare a secure carrier with soft non-slip bedding. Ask the breeder to supply you with a cloth/towel which has been left with the litter to take home in the carrier and help soothe your puppy’s anxiety. If this is not possible you can spray either Adaptil® or Pet Remedy® in the carrier when you arrive. Alternatively, if you have a companion, the puppy can rest on their lap with the scented cloth.
Once you are home carry on building positive experiences with your vehicle. For example, take your puppy near to it and feed a few pieces of food. Gradually build this up until you can lift your puppy in, feed a few pieces of food and lift them out or you may be able to feed them an entire meal. If they won’t eat then they are too worried and you’ll need to go back a stage for a few days.
Get them used to being in their travel position and being secured to comply with Highway Code rule 57. A carrier should be held securely in your vehicle and, if you choose to use a harness, make sure that it is designed for this purpose. Don’t forget to practise with you in the driving seat, then with the engine running.
Finally, introduce them to short journeys to watch the world go by e.g. supermarket car park, carry around a pet shop, sit on a bench so that travel isn’t just associated with vet visits. Try to drive and brake gently to keep your puppy comfortable and stress levels as low as you can.