How does your dog behave when you’re in the car together? Are they calm and relatively still? Or do they whine and try to break free from the leash or harness they’re in? Either way, there’s a chance your dog isn’t comfortable when going on the road with you, and that needs to change!
So, whether you’re looking to go on a road trip with your dog, or you just need to take them to and from the park or the vets, you need to make sure that your puppy is comfortable sitting on the backseat or in their crate in the trunk. It’ll certainly make trips like these much easier for everyone involved!
Start in a Parked Car
You’re going to need to start in a parked car, probably with the door open, and with little to no distractions around you. That means the acts practicing getting into the car and staying in the car need to be done at quieter times of the day, when the kids are at school or the neighbors have already gone to work.
When using a parked car, you show the dog the car itself is nothing to be afraid of, without putting too much pressure on your pooch. You won’t subject them to the noisy engine or the radio, and they’ll be able to focus on your voice much better.
Take it in Steps
You’re going to need to take it slow from here on out. Start the car, but don’t move it. Then, take it for a short drive around your neighborhood. Make sure your dog is kept comfortable and suitably rewarded for these endeavors, and only move onto the next step when you’ve practiced a few times.
Increase the mileage of these short trips (usually between 3 and 5 miles each time), and then go for ‘longer’ drives and see how your dog does. If they start to show panicked behaviors again, be sure to slow down and pull over and give the dog a break, and then try again when they’re exhibiting happy behaviors, such as relaxed ears and a slow to moderate pant.
Make Sure They Feel Safe
Your dog needs to feel safe at all times when in the car, and that’s easier to achieve than you may think! After all, as long as they’re with you, they’re going to feel just fine, and you only need to put a little extra effort in to extend that kind of safety to the car.
So, invest in something like a Pet Car Hammock, to ensure they can roam, sit, lie down, and not fall off the edge of the seat when they’re in the car. Make sure a comfort blanket, or their favorite toy is there with them. And always make sure you’ve got plenty of treats on hand to reward them for staying calm and doing as you tell them.
It’s not impossible; your dog can learn to be comfortable in the car!