10 Tips To Take Your Dog from Homebody to Adventure Pup

Golden Retriever sleeping in back seat of car

The backseat of a car is the best place for a nap. At least until we get to the drive through.

Do you fantasize about living a Subaru commercial?

Fit, active person hops into car with Adventure Dog by her side. Spends a perfect, sunny day frolicking in the surf or admiring the view from a mountain lookout. Everyone returns home tired but happy.

But what if your dog’s idea of a travel adventure is going from the bedroom to the living room couch? Can you make your fantasy a reality?

Train Your Dog to Travel

I can’t promise your dog will become a Subaru dog. But these tips will improve your chances.

1. Start by taking short, frequent trips. Dogs can suffer from motion sickness just like people. And exposing your dog to the car slowly makes it more likely he’ll adjust and won’t build up dread. If your dog is panting heavily and slobbering on the windows, your trip is already too long.

2. Your practice trips should end somewhere your dog really loves—not the vet or a boring shopping trip where he waits in the car. How about the bank teller who gives out treats at the drive through window? A fast food restaurant? The dog park? Picking out a new toy at the pet supply store? A swim in the lake? You know what makes your dog’s tail wag.

3. Help your dog associate the car with things she really loves—a favorite toy, dog crack (street name – liverwurst), or a special massage. If a toy is really exciting to your dog, only bring it out in the car.

4. Make sure the car fits your dog. Nothing will make a trip more miserable than your dog roaming a too-big car or getting cramped behind the seats. Subaru has a fun ap to help you select the right car for your dog.

5. And speaking of roaming, make sure your dog is safely secured in the car. You don’t want her crawling into your lap, curling up under the brake pedal, or flying through the air after an emergency stop. Even if your dog has her own driver’s license, she doesn’t belong in the front seat.

Honey's Subaru NY Driver's License

Click the picture to make your own Subaru dog license.

6. Cover the seats to manage dog hair. Sure, your dog doesn’t care. But he’ll be more relaxed if you’re relaxed. And how relaxed will you be at the thought of vacuuming the car so you can pick up your highly allergic great-Aunt Mildred at the doctor’s office?

7. Try relaxation aids for your dog like a Thundershirt, Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP), or Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Not every tool works for every dog. But if you’re lucky, one will relax your dog.

8. When you’re ready for a longer trip, bring a little bit of home along for your dog. Now is not the time to try new food, dishes, or beds. You want your dog to have the comforts (and smells) of home no matter where he goes.

9. Pay attention to your dog’s hesitations around the car. She’s telling you something. Maybe your Forester is too high off the ground for her aging hips. Perhaps the dog barking in the car next door is making him nervous. The back door might open at an awkward angle; try letting her in the front and sending her to the back seat. Think like a dog to figure out what’s wrong and don’t assume she’s just being stubborn.

10. If after doing all you can to make your dog more comfortable with traveling he still doesn’t like it, resolve to make the trip from the bed to the couch the most exciting adventure ever. And put your dog into a Subaru adventure without leaving your house by using this fun ap.

Honey the Golden Retriever rides in a Subaru CrossTrek.

Put your dog in a Subaru by clicking the picture.

We’ve chosen to be car-free to protect the environment and save money. But Honey doesn’t appreciate our choice.

Honey misses our Subaru. And, if she had it her way, she’d be heading to the Subaru dealership with these dogs to choose her new car. Check it out. Could you see your dog in this video?

Is your dog an Adventure Pup or a Homebody? Did you have to build up slowly or did your dog take to traveling right away?

This post is sponsored by Subaru. I am being paid to spread the word about the Dog Tested. Dog Approved.™ campaign, but Something Wagging This Way Comes only shares news about companies and products that meet my advertising and PR guidelines.

  1. Those are really great tips. It never occurred to me to try the Thundershirt in the car (duh), but that may do the trick for my pup who dislikes the car!

  2. I LOVE to ride in the car… as long as it doesn’t stop at the vet clinic!

    Can you hook Jen up with that renter representative in Florida? We’ve decided to just move and need some help negotiating breaking the lease. The owner is all for it, but still, we don’t trust him after the shenanigans he and his realtor have pulled so far.

  3. Our dogs are all pretty natural travelers. The only one we’ve had to work with of our current pack is Blueberry. She inherited motion sensitivity from Lilac, but unlike her crotchety mother, Blue learned that it was worth it to be able to go to where we were going. She almost always asks to go along if she sees us getting ready to go somewhere. We definitely enjoy traveling with the dogs, though! I can’t imagine not taking them with us!

  4. Being a Military family requires everyone to be adventurous 🙂 Luna has always done well in long car rides, and Penny took a little time getting used the the car. Your tips are all great – we have used some of them, and our Subaru Forester has proved to be a great car for our family.

  5. Most of my dogs are straining at the front door as soon I bring out a leash, car rides included. Very good tips to remember when I meet up with one not so fond of riding.

  6. Excellent tips! Another remedy that helps my crazy Labrador Maya, besides her dog car harness, is Travel Calm from Earth Heart. Maya loves the car ride so much that she can’t help but to whine and bark. So you can imagine how distracting that can be, especially when we take our annual road trips to Texas. But last year when I used this product, she was still happy about the car ride but she didn’t whine much at all.

  7. I’ve been enjoying all of these Subaru contest posts, but I have to say, this one is the most helpful one I’ve read…and coming from someone who doesn’t have a car makes it all the more impressive. 🙂 It IS so important to make sure your dog likes to travel in the car before dragging them all over the place. Meadow used to get carsick, and it took some creativity on my husband’s part to realize it was because her crate was on a slant. Once he made a platform so that it sat level, and we put a yoga mat in it to keep her from sliding around, she got so much better. Now she rarely gets carsick unless we hit something like stop and go traffic. I don’t blame her. 🙂