Are you blessed with a hound that is a happy traveller?
Unfortunately, not all dogs are good in the car. They may exhibit bad behaviors such as chewing the seats, barking at passers-by, or whining.
For example, imagine the dog who cries constantly and poses a distraction risk to the driver. Worse still, the dog can barely travel round the block without drooling heavily and then losing his breakfast all over the backseat. This makes it almost impossible to take pleasure trips to the park and adds a whole new layer of stress to routine vet clinic visits.
Sometimes these behaviors are a reflection of deep-seated issues that need working on, such as being anxious, over-protective, or bored. Some dogs misbehave in the car because they associate the vehicle with feeling sick or it might be they once had a bad experience in the car which makes them fearful on board. However, with time and patience, it's possible to create new, positive association with travel to turn things around for the better.
Behaving well in the car enables travel to fun places (for the dog's benefit!) safely, without distracting the driver. To achieve this requires a mixture of training and practical considerations, such as restraining the dog in transit.
The ultimate aim is to have the dog travel in a relaxed manner, so that he feels content to settle down and sleep for the duration of the trip. Depending on your dog's earlier travel experiences, this may take considerable time and retraining or be relatively simple.
Key to success is recognizing the challenges faced by the dog, and then putting a plan in place to overcome this hurdles one by one, until the dog behaves well. For those dogs with the worst problems, you may need to avoid car travel while you rebuild the dog's confidence. For others, the answers could be as simple as taking the dog for a good walk ahead of the journey and providing them with a chew toy en route.
To do the job properly rather than paper over the cracks, requires you to list how your dog misbehaves in the car, and then analyze their behavior to look for triggers. For example, the dog that gets stressed just getting into the car needs to learn new, happier associations with travel.
To get started you will need:
Adequate travel restraints for the dog
A food bowl and treats
A favorite toy
A spray bottle containing water
Time and patience
Medications to prevent travel sickness
My dog just chewed up a seat belt and a little of the carpet in my car. We don't restrain him in a crate or in the trunk (I have a minivan) while we drive, we put him in the back seat and hope he doesn't climb onto the seats. I want him to lay down when he is on the car, and more importantly, chew proof the car. I already removed everything except the carpet and floor mats.
How should I chew proof him, and should I restrain him? I want him to lay down while we drive and have him be able to chew his toys.
Hello Kien, The easiest way to teach him to lay down in the car is to purchase a padded back-clip harness and a seat-belt tether and clip the the harness so that he stays in the seated or down position. Ruffwear and Kurgo make riding harnesses. Ruffwear's regular (not car specific) webmaster harness is also padded and has a back-clip and can probably be used for car riding also. To help him learn to lay down you can also practice "Down" in the car while the car is parked at home to build a habit of him riding in the car in that position. This will also let you supervise him more carefully to stop the chewing when the car is stationary. For the chewing, he needs to ride somewhere where a passenger (not driver) can supervise him while riding and interrupt any chewing. You can give him a deer antler or other durable chew toy, but also use the "Leave It" command when he starts to chew something he shouldn't, give him a correct toy to chew instead, and then discipline him for chewing what he was told to leave alone after he has been told not to chew it. A remote e-collar is useful for this. A good e-collar has both stimulation levels and vibration. The vibration can be used to interrupt him chewing what he shouldn't once he has been told to leave it alone. Practice all of this while the car is not moving ahead of time, then practice it while someone simply drives the car around a neighborhood with someone sitting in the back with him. (the driver's only job should be driving). Restraining him and teaching the down is very important because a dog laying down is less likely to get into trouble, less anxious and overexcited in the car...and thus less likely to be unsafe or to get carsick. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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