This is a post from a couple of years ago; you'll notice the absence of Elsa in it. But it is how to help your dog over the whole fear/nausea feeling about your vehicle. It is a common problem, one that I have address many times with client's dogs over the years. If your dog is not motivated by food then you can use their favorite toy. Catching a tennis ball, tugging on a toy etc etc. The whole idea is to change the association to the car.
It is important to address the problem because if you just keeping putting them in the car and they get sick; the problem will grow. If you have any questions, please ask away.
As I said yesterday I will discuss car sickness and dogs this morning; it is a common problem and an easy fix. Almost all dogs are car sick as youngsters; but if a breeder has made a point of getting their puppies out in a car from a very early stage you may be one of the lucky ones and dodged a bullet. I remember bringing home Jessie; a tiny white bundle of adorable she rode on my daughters lap, my daughter was 9 years old at the time. The kids were all smitten; oooooing and awwwing and trying to pick a name when SPLOSH. Jessie puked on my daughters lap; of course there was a commotion, lots of GROOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSS so we pulled over and cleaned it up. She rode the rest of the way down the country roads on my lap.
All of my dogs have been car sick dogs except for Luke; it is very common. Being someone who gets motion sick myself; I understand completely. And I feel for dogs as they start to drool; long strands of saliva hanging from their mouth, their eyes filled with "I don't feel well." It is a horrible feeling. Some dogs get over it quickly and on their own; others need help and if you don't step in and assist in their rehabilitation the issue can lodge in their brain and cause unnecessary prolonged vomiting in your car. Basically what happens is that your dog starts to relate the horrible feeling of motion sickness to the car.
Tilley was one of these associated vomiting dogs. I noticed very quickly that she would start drooling before we even got into the car. So it was all in her head; I hate this phrase but it was all in her head. So we had to re-associate; and that is what you must do to help your dog get over their car sickness. Just like most behaviors with dogs you need to go slow; baby steps. If your dog is like Tilley and started before even getting in the car you need to start there. I would put Tilley's collar and leash on and head towards the car. We would stop at the car; I'd ask her to sit and give treats, tons of praise and then we calmly walked away. And did it again and again until she was giving me a positive response to approaching the car.
Next we worked on just opening the car door and creating a positive response. It is important to give all the treats and praise while in the "bad" zone. This puts the focus on building positive right at the correct place. When you walk away from the car or get your dog out of the car you are to say nothing. You want to build the association that the car is a great and wonderful place, not getting out or moving away. So from there you move slowly to sitting in the car for treats a praise. Only do this for very short time span and only move onto the next step once you have complete success at the present step.
You then progress to you sitting in the drivers sit and tossing treats back to your dog. Make that a great place by simply chilling, chatting and getting treats. When you have success there you start the car; don't go anywhere as this is a big step and you must ensure a positive association to it here. Your next step is to simply back out your driveway and drive back in; always quit while you're ahead. Don't push it; be happy with small successes. The next step is down your street and back again and from that point in time you build on time.
Make sure not to feed your dog before any of your car sick training. A full stomach is detrimental to your hard work and dogs tend to vomit much quicker on a full stomach. Use special treats that are only given in the wonderful, amazing and glorious car. Of course with all this training there are a few dogs that may remain motion sick or need you to break it all down into even smaller steps. Never proceed to the next step until you have success at the present one.