All Things Dog

Car Sickness and Toy Poodles

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The evidence may be more anecdotal than scientific, but many Toy Poodle owners report problems with car sickness, especially when their dogs are young. The research does not point to a breed inclination toward motion sickness, but these highly intelligent and sensitive dogs may be more susceptible to the emotional and stress factors that cause travel sickness.

Desensitization may work best

Some pet psychologists think the problems begin with a Toy Poodle's first car ride, which is often the day when he leaves the security of his mother and littermates. An early trip in the car might also include a traumatic visit to the veterinarian. These first encounters leave a powerful impression on your Toy Poodle. That's why he might be associating fear and stress with the car.

While desensitization training requires patience, it is often effective in reversing problems. The key is to reprogram your dog's attitude by replacing negative triggers with positive conditioning. First, put your dog in the car (in the place he will be sitting) and let him settle and relax for five minutes. Leave the doors open. Don't go anywhere. Don't even start the car. Praise and reward him with words contact, and small treats.

Next, start the car, but don't drive. Observe your Toy Poodle for signs of stress, which might include shaking, drooling, or drooping ears. If these are present, turn off the car until your dog calms down. Do not attempt to calm him, as soothing and attention to the anxiety can actually reinforce the behavior. When he can manage the sound and vibration of the engine again, go for a short drive, not more than five minutes, and preferably to a place he enjoys, like a park or dog run. Reward him with a toy, treat, or praise.

You can continue this desensitization process until your dog is no longer queasy in the car. This generally takes several sessions.

Tricks for travel

Many owners have discovered that an empty stomach is the best anti-illness prevention, and don't feed their poodles for up to five hours before a long car ride. It might also help to travel with your dog in his crate, if it can be securely fastened on the car's seat or floor. The crate generally comforts your dog and gives him a place to lie down, which can reduce motion sickness.

If your Toy Poodle's car sickness is truly motion related, your vet can also prescribe medications to fight travel illness.

While many Toy Poodles will outgrow car sickness by the time they are a year old, you can speak to your veterinarian about mild sedatives and other medical solutions if the problem persists.

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