Some dogs absolutely love riding in the car while others are terrified. It has a lot to do with your dog’s personality, but even more to do with how well he was socialized (or how he wasn’t). You can condition a dog to get used to just about anything, though it may take some work if your dog has already developed a fear response. Keep reading to receive some tips for helping your dog overcome his fear of riding in the car.
Getting Your Dog Used to Being in the Car
Before working with your dog to get him used to being in the car, you should address issues of motion sickness, if it is a problem. If your dog begins drooling excessively or vomits when you take him in the car, there are a few things you can do. For one thing, limit your dog’s intake of food and water for a few hours before the trip. When you hit the road, lower the windows by a few inches to let in some fresh air and to equalize the pressure in the car. You can also try giving him a fun toy to distract him.
After addressing issues of car sickness, take some time to acclimate your dog to the car so he doesn’t have a fear response every time he gets near or in it. Start by opening the doors while the car is in the driveway and encourage your dog to explore by tossing treats into the car. Once your dog is comfortable getting into the car by himself you can close one or more of the doors while he’s inside. Do this for just a few seconds at first and work your way up to longer periods of time. If you plan to keep your dog in a crate during car travel, you’ll need to go through a similar process to get him used to this as well. If you just plan to use a harness and a seatbelt, acclimate your dog to wearing the harness and work with him until he’s used to being clipped into the seatbelt.
Helping Your Dog Enjoy Car Rides
When you are confident that your dog has gotten over some of his fear associated with the car in general you can start working with him to condition him to car travel. Start by putting your dog in the car (whether in his crate or clipped into a harness) and just back the car down the driveway then pull back in. After a few repetitions, you can start taking the car for a short drive around the block. As you get going, give your dog plenty of verbal praise and offer him some treats to reward him when he remains calm. Gradually increase the length of your drives to build up your dog’s tolerance but only when your dog is able to calmly handle the ride. If you try to go for a longer ride but your dog becomes extremely anxious, go back to the previous length until he is ready to move on.
Some dogs may never truly learn to love car rides, but they can be conditioned to tolerate them. The key is to get your dog used to the car itself first and then slowly build up his tolerance for longer and longer rides. It may take some time and patience but, with consistency, you can do it.