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Helping Your Dog to Enjoy the Car

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Over on our DogTipper Facebook page, we’ve been having a big discussion about dogs and cars, sparked by this Dave Barry famous quote:

If you click on the comments link, you’ll see that many people had concerns that their dog didn’t like the car. The main reasons seemed to be:

  • car sickness
  • anxiety
  • a past bad experience in the car

We talked on our DOG TRAVEL EXPERTS radio show about this topic many times. My number one tip for helping your dog learn to like car travel is:

Start slowly. Take your dog out to the car and just sit there and give him some GREAT treats…but don’t turn on the car. (If your dog is super afraid of the car, you may even have to back up a few steps and just feed treats near the car.) Talk in a happy, upbeat voice and just enjoy a little quality time with your dog…then go back in the house.

Slowly, you’ll work up to staying in the car longer periods of time then, finally, turning on the car. You might back out of the driveway…or just sit and let the car idle a while then turn it off.

The point is to take baby steps. If you see your dog becoming anxious, you might have to go back a step and, using positive reinforcement, work a little longer.

It’s also a great idea to take your dog on a long walk before car rides or car training. The walk will tire out your dog and reduce anxiety so, when you do get in the car, it becomes a nice place to rest for a while. Even today, although our dogs have put in many miles in our car, we try to give the dogs a good, brisk walk before any trip.

Paris Permenter
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