How to get your dog used to ride in a car?

 How to get your dog used to ride in a car?

How to get your dog used to ride in a car?

It is much more common than you think that a dog refuses to get into a car. Fear is the main reason for this aversion. However, it is sometimes essential to be able to transport your dog in your vehicle. However, if each movement becomes a test for the animal as for you, the situation is complex! Fortunately, there are solutions to get your dog used to ride in a car. Let's discover them together.

Why is your dog afraid to get in a car?

Fear is the main refusal factor when a dog does not want to get in a car. However, to succeed in getting your dog used to riding in your vehicle, it is important to get him used to it, and for that to understand the origin of his fear. From one animal to another, this can have multiple reasons. By learning to understand your animal, you make it easier for it to learn and you help it better overcome its apprehension to accompany it in carrying out this simple and practical gesture.

If the factors of fear can be multiple, here are the main ones:
  • Some adult dogs have simply never been in a car. So, having to climb and stay locked in this cramped, noisy, and constantly moving space is not reassuring!
  • Your dog may have suffered a car-related trauma. He may have been simply frightened by the noise of an engine or he may have been hit by a vehicle. Being locked up there is therefore not pleasant for him.
  • Your dog may experience motion sickness. Indeed, like us humans, some dogs are sensitive to movements of the inner ear, which causes them to feel dizzy and nauseous.
  • In the same vein, your dog may feel troubled by the lack of control over his environment. The car moves, the landscape scrolls by and he has no way of checking everything and acting.
  • Your dog may also associate the car with an unpleasant event, such as visits to the vet. Indeed, a dog who rarely takes the car sometimes sees his trips reduced to annual check-ups. Thus, for him, the car rhymes with sting or injury and quickly becomes anxiety-provoking.

How does car fear manifest in dogs?

In dogs, fear can manifest itself in several ways:
  • Your dog may simply refuse to approach a vehicle whether its engine is on or off.
  • Your dog may agree to approach your vehicle when it is stationary, with the engine off, but he refuses to get in.
  • Your dog may agree to get in the car, but as soon as you drive, he starts barking, whining, drooling, throwing up, or relieving himself.
If your dog is restless, barking, and running around in circles, this does not necessarily mean that he is afraid, but rather that he is excited at the idea of ​​going out and that this feeling is difficult for him to control. . Not to be confused!

Getting your dog used to riding in a car: the different stages

Getting your dog used to the car must be done gradually if his fear manifests itself, at the risk of traumatizing him. This is delicate work and can take a long time, but the steps should be followed. Be patient and show yourself to listen to him. Don't try to rush things or force them; make short sessions, because your animal will be subjected to strong emotions to learn how to counter his fear. This is a real awareness, so you have to act slowly and gently so that each step is well assimilated before moving on to the next.

Be careful, before you start, know that you will need to be very patient. Limit sessions to 15 minutes, no more. If your dog shows the slightest reluctance, stop the operation so as not to rush or traumatize him. Finally, remember to fill your pockets with some treats to reward him for his efforts and his exploits.

Step 1: Gently accustom him to approaching a vehicle

Sit with your dog at a distance from your vehicle that is tolerable to him. Play with him, pet him, give him treats, etc. While continuing to play, try to gradually reduce the distance between him and the vehicle.

If your dog starts sniffing around your car or hovering around it, let it go and continue to play with it or give it treats at the same time. Your dog will find that the fact that he approaches the vehicle does not change your behavior; he thus understands that the situation is normal.

Step 2: a first entry

If your dog has learned to be near your stationary vehicle, engine off, without showing concern, open the trunk or a door and continue to play with him or give him treats as if the situation were perfectly normal. If you have or know another dog that enjoys riding in a car, their presence may entice your reluctant pet to do the same.

You can ask your dog to get into the car through the trunk or the door, promising him a treat with the key. If he does, offer him the treat and give him games so that he has fun in the vehicle and makes it his own without any notion of danger. Make him go up and down if he gets caught up in the game. However, stop there so as not to skip the steps. If he doesn't respond to your request, he's not ready yet. Wait again and try again.

Step 3: engine on

If your dog has got into the habit of getting into your vehicle to play with pleasure, you can start the engine, but at first stop there and do not drive. Discreetly observe your dog's reaction. If he doesn't show concern, so much the better. If, on the contrary, he shows himself frightened, do not seek to console him this time; he must understand on his own that the situation is normal. Adopt a perfectly normal attitude and do not react to his fear, you risk making it worse.

When this step is accepted, try to take a short trip. Start with a few meters in your street and according to his reaction, continue a little further. Always end with a treat and/or a play session with your dog, so that he associates the car trip with a pleasant memory.

Good advice to apply daily

Getting your dog used to riding in a car also involves good habits to apply daily.
  • If you're adopting a puppy or young dog, try to get him used to car rides from an early age. To do this, make trips, even short ones so that he slowly gets used to this mode of transport and sees it as something normal. Giving good habits from the first months of your dog is ideal so that he keeps them as he grows up!
  • Do not feed your dog before a car ride. Indeed, if your animal has an empty stomach, it will feel less the effect of nausea. However, the fear of vomiting is often the first reason for refusing to get into a vehicle.
  • Along the same lines, drive slowly. Your animal is tossed about in the vehicle, whether it is in a transport crate or not. The journey may be much more difficult for him than for you!
  • Avoid limiting trips to visits to the vet. Taking the car must also be followed by a game for your dog. Sometimes take him for a walk in new places and vary the sites of walks. Thus, your animal will not associate the car only with an unpleasant event, and getting into it will no longer be an ordeal or a source of anxiety.
  • If your pet starts whining in the car, ignore it. If you scold him, you risk aggravating his anxiety. If, on the contrary, you reassure him, he will understand that the situation is abnormal and that he can thus obtain your attention. Do not condone this complaining behavior.
  • On the other hand, do not leave your dog alone in the car if he is suffering or has suffered from anxiety. He will live it even more badly.
  • The transport crate can be a good solution for car journeys. Your dog is in a small space that he can more easily control than the vehicle and its environment which passes by at full speed.
  • If your pet is drooling, vomiting, or pooping in the car, don't clean up until you get home. Indeed, if you clean up his dirt while he is still in the car, he may take it for consolation or as a game. In this case, he is likely to start again regularly.
  • If the Bach Flowers can be a particularly interesting soothing solution, you can also help yourself with another dog who is used to car journeys; its presence will reassure yours who will see that your vehicle does not represent any danger.

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