Photo Credit: Rhea C. via Compfight cc
We have all seen people transporting their dogs in cars. Sometimes the dogs are seen sticking their heads out the windows with their tongues flapping in the wind absolutely loving the experience. If you have just acquired a new pet and want to carry them around in your car regularly, then it is essential to train them into car rides.
First of all, gently guide your dog towards the car and make them sit at various spots around it. If they bark or whine in the proximity of the car, wait until they stop doing so and then award them with a treat. You have to keep in mind that you do not want to reinforce any negative behaviour from your dog whenever it is near a car. When your dog has relaxed in the proximity of the car, open the door and indicate them to get inside. Secure them on a harness or place them in a pet crate. At this point, it may be a good idea to give your pet a small treat or even a ‘special’ chew toy (for car rides only) to show that they have done well! Get into the car yourself and close the door. Do not turn the car on just yet. Allow your dog to become familiar with the feel, sight and smell of the car for a few minutes. While this is happening you can read a book, listen to the radio or calmly chat on the phone. Repeat this whole process a few times.

After your dog’s anxiety starts to dissipate and they are excited about jumping into the car (probably because of all those treats you keep giving them!) it is time to move onto the next stage. While your dog is outside the car, turn the car on. Notice your dog’s reaction. If your dog does not seem to be concerned about the car turning on and is happy to approach it, then instruct them to go inside the car.  If your dog becomes a little scared or wants to back off, be patient. Again, guide them to sit around the car to show nothing has changed and then tell them to enter the car. A little positive encouragement such as giving them an affectionate pat or small sweet may help for more resistant pets. Secure your dog in the harness or crate. Sit in the car as it is running to again give your dog time to relax and get used to its surroundings.

When you feel your dog is ready (for example they are not whining or seem nervous), steadily start driving your car outside the driveway and down the street. Only travel for a block or two and then return home again. Ensure to keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour. As your dog becomes more comfortable riding in the car, the further you can travel. It may be a good idea to only take them on short trips (i.e. local shops, park) until you believe they are ready to travel for further distances. Also keep up a routine so that your dog expects to be taken a car ride on certain days, this will help them get used to the whole experience even more.

For dog’s that unfortunately suffer from motion sickness, open the car windows to allow a fresh breeze throughout the car and to maintain air pressure. You can also feed your dog something sweet to settle their stomachs. Most dogs usually outgrow this problem though and shouldn’t be a lasting concern.

From following this guide your dog will surely become a full fledged and savvy travelling companion in no time. If you are having any problems with training your pet, please do not hesitate to contact us at Concord Vet Hospital for some friendly advice.