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How to Train Your Dog to Enjoy the Car

At some point or another, you will have to take your dog in the car with you. As great as it would be if everything you need for your dog is within walking distances, there are simply far too many things that your dog needs that will require you to travel some sort of great distance. Whether you need to go to the vet, or to a local dog park, or simply to take your dog to a friend or relative for the weekend, dogs will need to spend time in cars.

Some dogs take riding in cars very well. Others, however, act as though the car ride is about to take them to their doom. They whine and cry with regularity, occasionally making waste in your car out of fear. When your dog is afraid of riding in the car, there are several methods to employ to train your dog out of these unwanted behaviors.

Why Do Dogs Cry in the Car?

The first thing to understand is why dogs are so fearful of car rides. By understanding what makes dogs afraid of riding in the car, you can better understand what you need to avoid in order to make your dog more comfortable. Dogs are afraid of car rides because:

·         Often times it leads to somewhere they are afraid of, such as the vet or kennel.

·         They may not understand the noises that are coming from your car and the street.

·         They may have trouble standing and have hurt themselves during a car ride in the past.

It is understandable that some dogs are fearful of car rides. Car rides can be confusing and may often end in pain. This can be terrifying for your pet.

Training Your Dog to Like the Car

The key to training your dog to enjoy car rides is with habituation. You need to slowly get your dog used to pleasant, easy car rides that do not and will not cause pain or discomfort.

Your first step is to make sure your dog has gone to the bathroom long before going inside of your car. You do not want to punish your dog at any time during this training, and if your dog starts to poop on your car seat you may not be able to help yourself.

Next, train your dog to not be afraid of getting into the car without it running. Give your dog treats when it shows good behavior by entering or standing near the car. Expand the length of time the dog needs to stay in the car before you give them a treat. After a while, the car itself will not be such a fearful area.

Next, walk your dog to an area away from busy streets and loud noises and have a friend or family member drive the car over to meet you there. Using treats and verbal rewards, get your dog into the car in a comfortable location (have a pillow nearby or a specialty dog seat available). Drive very slowly with the windows down around the quiet area. The noises and smells will help your dog calm down while in the car. Keep this trip short, let your dog leave the car, reward it with lots of treats and walk it back home.

Over the next few days you should continue to extend the length of time the dog is in the car. You can also slowly expand the speeds and take the dog into slightly noisier areas. But you should always make sure that your dog is comfortable on the trip and that you are not going somewhere that the dog may be afraid of, such as the vet.

As long as you continue to make incremental changes and habituate your dog to the car, you will find that your pet will enjoy car rides more and handle the trips with less crying.