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January 17th

Get Your Dog to Love Car Rides in 8 Easy Steps

Get Your Dog to Love Car Rides in 8 Easy Steps

If you’ve got a pup that doesn’t really like car rides, you’re not alone.

While many dogs enjoy going out in a car, many don’t. Uptown Puppies provides some of the easiest to train pups on the planet, and that means you can help them get over any anxiety they have over travelling very quickly.

If you’ve got a dog that you’d like to take with you on long journeys, whether you’re visiting family or taking a vacation—then this article is for you.

We’re going to look at some tips from dog experts that are all aimed at getting your pup feeling safe and comfortable no matter how long it’s in the car for.

1. Start Small

While many pups love getting in the car, that isn’t the case for all of them. If your dog has this specific anxiety, you can’t expect them to simply get over it straight away—it takes time.

That means you need to start small and build their tolerance up over a few journeys. You definitely shouldn’t be expecting your dog to simply overcome its fears straight away, nor should you make your first trip with your pet a long one.

Start with tiny journeys first. That means a trip down the shops or around the neighborhood—something no longer than 5 or so minutes. This’ll get your dog used to getting in and out of the car, and also realizing that there isn’t that much to worry about.

Since dogs have a poor perception of time anyway, once they’ve got used to short journeys they won’t notice much difference between that and a longer journey. You know how your pup reacts exactly the same whether you’ve just stepped back inside after a trip to the mailbox or a long day at work? Yeah, it’s exactly like that.

You can take this “starting small” idea one step further by simply putting your dog in your car without even going on a trip. Strap it in and make sure your pet is nice and relaxed. Thankfully, our Doodles and other dogs are some of the happiest breeds you can find, so this shouldn’t be too much trouble.

Make positive affirmations and employ other relaxing techniques (like stroking) if you see them starting to get stressed. Here’s a quick set of techniques you can use to get your pup feeling OK about getting in the car and going on journeys:

  • Sit next to your dog in an unmoving car on the back seat and keep hold of the leash. Shut the car door and wait for a minute or two. If the dog isn’t stressed, open the car door but leave the dog inside and wait for a minute or two more.
  • Sit in the car yourself but hold the leash with your dog standing on the outside. Do this for a few minutes, increasing the time if the dog isn’t stressed.
  • Ask your dog to jump into the vehicle and then make them get out straight after. If your pup won’t respond to verbal commands like this, you can pick them up and put them in the car yourself.
  • Repeat the previous step with a longer wait time between getting in and out of the car. As the times inside the car get longer, strap the dog in or fasten a harness to it as you would during a real journey.
  • When the dog is fully used to sitting in the car without any sign of stress, start turning the engine on and getting your pup used to that.
  • Once your dog is used to sitting in a running car for 5 minutes, you can try the next step. Drive your car carefully around the block and back to where you started. Keep the journey short and carefully watch for any signs of stress. If you’ve done all the previous steps carefully, this shouldn’t be too much trouble. If the dog does get stressed, keep trying this step again and again until your pet has completely calmed down.

You might want to allow a break and come back the next day to try again. It could take a few days to get this right!

2. Reward successes

When you start taking your dog on longer and longer journeys, you need to reward successes and good behavior. This will re-affirm their good behavior and get successful journeys associated with rewards. You want your dog to be eager to earn more rewards and treats so they’ll behave themselves along the ride.

You can offer doggie treats and food along with extra attention and affection. All of this helps build a dog’s confidence and gets car trips associated with positive outcomes rather than negative ones. Bribery can go a long way when trying to get a dog to learn something!

3. Sit with your dog

A lot of dogs get stressed on long journeys not because of the journey itself, but because they’re put in a pet cage or trailer separated from you. Dogs don’t like being away from their owners, especially in times where they might get a bit stressed out.

Don’t banish your pup to a pet cage. Have your dog ride up front with you. That way you can continue to reward it and give it attention to take its mind off the trip.

If you can’t have your pup in the front passenger seat, it might be a good idea to have someone else do the driving, or let someone else who the dog is familiar with sit with the pup in the back seat. Keep hold of the lead and strap your pup in safely for extra peace of mind.

4. Remember to keep your dog safe

While you shouldn’t keep your dog locked away in a trailer or enclosed cage if it gets stressed easily, you still want to make sure your dog is safe at all times—just like you would with another human.

The problem is, seat belts are designed especially for people and won’t be enough to protect your pup. That means you might want to invest in a special dog harness or keep Fido in an open-top crate for extra security.

5. Try keeping your windows open

Dogs love sticking their nose out into the blowing wind, and an open window will also help your dog feel more relaxed and less trapped in a situation it doesn’t want to be in.

While an open window is a great idea, you’ll still want to be careful. Make sure your dog is completely secure when the windows are open, and consider car window guard screens to prevent something from hitting your pet.

6. Make plans if your dog gets car sick

Pet dogs can suffer from motion sickness just like people can. Sadly, there isn’t really much in the way of motion sickness medication available for dogs like there is for humans.

To counter this problem, try not to feed your pet for a good few hours before the journey. Keep your driving as steady as possible, especially around corners. Keep the windows open and build your pet’s tolerance up with shorter trips.

7. Take breaks

When your dog is stuck on a long journey, it’ll be itching to get out and have a run around. If you’ve been in the car for a while, make sure you take regular breaks so your pup can stretch its legs.

8. Keep your dog with their ID

Make sure your dog is wearing its collar on journeys in the car, with full ID and address. If you have to stop suddenly and your dog runs away, this will help immensely.

Just a little patience

Hopefully, these tips are enough to get you started on your way to relaxed road trips with your pooch. Like all things and life (and especially with dog training), remain calm and patient for best results. If your dog has had negative experiences with car rides before—like traumatic vet visits—you’ll have a little extra work ahead of you.

But as you’ll find with dogs (and especially our super trainable Doodles), that’s nothing a little patience and treats can’t fix.

About Uptown Staff

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