It seems like all dogs can be divided into two categories: those that love dog car rides, and those that are paralyzed with anxiety when you put them in the car.
If your fur baby falls into the former category, it can be lots of fun to head out to run errands, browse the pet store, or just take a scenic drive around the neighborhood together.
However, if your precious pooch is petrified of the car, just getting him to the vet can be a monumental task. Dogs that fear car trips show it by drooling, vomiting, shaking, or jumping around anxiously.
With a little patience and these tips, it is possible to acclimate even the most car-phobic dog.
Make sure your car runs properly
First, assess your vehicle. As the ASPCA says, some dogs are scared by the noises they hear while riding in a car. While you can’t do anything about the Harley passing by on the road, you can make your own car as calm and quiet as possible. If you notice your brakes are making an annoying squeak noise, think about how it must sound to your dog, whose hearing is much more sensitive. If your tires haven’t been changed recently, they might also be making odd noises due to uneven treads. Bring your car in for a tune-up and get safety- and noise-related issues like worn brakes taken care of. If your tires are past their prime, consider ordering a new set.
Start out slowly (or even parked)
For dogs that are super nervous about going in the car, it’s important to do what you can to try to associate the vehicle with a positive experience. As Preventive Vet states, start by taking your fur baby out to your parked car and spending some time with him or her inside the vehicle. Go into the back seat together and praise your pooch enthusiastically for his bravery. The first time you try this approach, plan on spending only a minute or two in the car, and then reward your pup with a tasty treat. Do this every day, or even just a few times a week, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend in the parked car. If you are comfortable with the idea of a few kibbles getting under your seats, you might even feed your four-legged friend in the car. You want to do whatever you can to help your dog associate “car” with “fun.”
Go for short trips (not to the vet)
Once your dog starts to feel more comfortable in a parked car, it’s time to take the next step and try a short trip around the block. Ease into it. You don’t want your first trip to be a long road trip or a drive to the vet. Go around the block once or twice, and while you are driving praise your dog and then reward him once you are back home. Over time, make the drives a bit longer and take your pup to enjoyable places, like maybe a dog park or doggie bakery. This will help your dog understand that being in the car can be fun.