Get in the car! We're going shopping!
Is your dog afraid of riding in the car? Maybel was terrified when she was a puppy! She would shake the entire ride and be so scared she would even throw up sometimes! It took some training, but a few months later, she was no longer shaking. And NOW, two years later, riding in the car is her FAVORITE activity. She gets more excited when I say "want to go for a ride?" than when I say "want to go for a walk?!"
Make The Car Comfortable
If your dog is used to being in a crate, then you should put them in a crate for the car ride. A crate is the safest way to travel with your dog. It will keep her safe in case of an accident and will minimize driver distraction too- which there is a lot of already when traveling with a scared pup! Maybel was never crate trained and hates crates, so trained her to ride in the car by laying on the lap of a passenger. This way she is being held in case of a quick stop, and won't roam around the car or try to jump on my lap when she gets scared. If you are using a crate, make sure that it is not placed on the floor. The floor feels the most impact of the bumpy road. Place the crate on top of the seat and also consider leveling it out somehow. The angle of the car seat can make the crate tilt backward, so try placing some rolled towels underneath to level it out. I would also suggest bringing your dogs favorite toy along for the ride. This can help the new space feel safe and familiar.
Get Your Dog Familiar With The Car
You want your dog to ease into car riding. The car is a big, loud, and scary machine! You need to take small steps to get your dog familiar with it. Start by just placing your dog in the car, not even in their crate. Just simply put them in the car and immediately take them out and reward them with a treat. Do this a few times, over the span of a few days, keeping them in the car for longer periods of time (from maybe 1 second- to eventually 1 minute)- be sure the door is open & you're standing right outside next to them each time. Reward them with the treat while they are still in the car- not once they're on the ground or back in your arms. Next, put your dog in their car seat (crate or someone's lap), while you sit in the drivers seat & reward them with a treat. Once this becomes something they're more comfortable with you can start the engine and pull out of the driveway! Slowly increase the amount of time you're driving. Pair each trip with a reward to alleviate your dog's anxiety and create a positive association with the car.
Visit Rewarding Destinations
It's important that the first few rides with your dog are to fun places, such as the park, a pet store, or a friends house! It's very common for some people to simply bring their dog places only when they HAVE to- such as the vet or the groomers. These are places your dog hates and they will, in turn, hate the car! If you follow these steps, taking it slow and steady, your dog will eventually learn to get used to the car, and should, over time learn to really enjoy car rides! If you're going on a longer trip don't forget to stop frequently for bathroom
breaks. It can often be tricky to find a place to stop if your dog has to go- especially if you're on a freeway! Bring along a dog bathroom, such as Bark Potty
, so that you can pull over anywhere! Plus, once you arrive at your destination your dog will have their Bark Potty
(better puppy pads) handy for whenever and wherever nature calls!