How to Train Your Dog to Behave in the Car

Medium
2-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

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.

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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

The Travel Restraint Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Travel Restraint method for Behave in the Car
Step
1
Safety first
Knowing the dog is safe and won't interfere with your ability to drive is crucial, and allows you to ignore bad behavior and stop rewarding it with attention.
Step
2
Travel pods
For toy or small dogs, consider a travelpod or dog booster seat. These are a car restraint that raises the small dog up slightly so they can see out of the window. This can reduce motion sickness and help the dog to settle because they can see where they are going.
Step
3
Invest in a travel harness
Travel harnesses are available in a wide range of sizes from small to giant dogs. The dog wears a special harness which attaches to the car's seat belt system. Look for a crash-test certified harness (Top tip: Some unscrupulous manufacturers state their harnesses are 'crash-tested' - What they fail to add is they were tested and failed...so be sure the harness has crast test approval.)
Step
4
Grills or dividers
For larger dogs that travel in the cargo area, get a sturdy metal grill that confines them there.
Step
5
Travel crates
Consider a crash-test approved crate for transporting medium or larger dogs in the cargo area.
Step
6
Build acceptance of the restraint
Whichever method you choose to secure the dog, get your pet pal used to it first. This could mean wearing the harness indoors or sitting the dog in the travel pod while giving them rewards. Only once you are sure the dog is happy, take them on the road.
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The Undo Bad Memories Method

Effective
3 Votes
Undo Bad Memories method for Behave in the Car
Step
1
Park the car
Take baby steps, start with the car parked and engine off. Open all the car doors so the dog won't feel trapped, and scatter ultra-tasty treats on the back seat. Give the dog as long as he needs to find the treats (never force him - walk away and try again another day if necessary) then praise his boldness.
Step
2
Feed him in the car
Once he is happily jumping in for treats, close one or two of the doors and start regularly feeding his meals in the car.
Step
3
Start the engine
Once he accepts eating in the car, switch the engine on while he eats. Praise his calmness.
Step
4
Out of the drive and back
Now he's happily eating meals with the engine running, reverse out of the driveway and then back in.
Step
5
Short pleasure trip
Finally, only once he shows no sign of stress with steps 1 -4, go for a short drive round the block. Ideally, if there is a park or field at the end of the road, drive there and take the dog for a game so that he realizes the car is a way of making fun things happen.
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The Curtail Howling Method

Effective
0 Votes
Curtail Howling method for Behave in the Car
Step
1
Rule out stress or anxiety
For the inveterate howler, first rule out the possibility he is nervous, anxious, or stressed. Do NOT use the following technique on a stressed dog but use The Undo Bad Memories Method instead.
Step
2
Equip yourself
Take a friend along for training purposes. Equip them with a spray bottle containing water.
Step
3
Respond to the howl
When the dog starts to howl, have the friend immediately spritz the dog's face with the water and say a short, sharp "No".
Step
4
Repeat
The dog will likely fall silent, so continue your trip. Each time the dog starts to howl, repeat the same action of spritzing and saying "No"
Step
5
Phase out the spray
Keep the spray to hand, but start issuing the "No" slightly in advance of the spritz. This gives the dog a chance to quiet, without getting a shower.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 10/06/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
10 Months
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Lucky
Labrador Retriever
10 Months

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.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

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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Plutus
German Shepherd
4 Years
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Plutus
German Shepherd
4 Years

My dogs get very excited for car rides. But two of them are terrible. Constantly barking at cars and people when I drive. How can I retrain them to be good in the car

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, this is a tricky question. If you have a few dogs with the same problem, it will take time and patience. I thought it best to give you this extensive article that covers the topic so well, rather than try to explain: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-To-Get-Your-Dog-To-Behave-In-The-Car. Perhaps buy a barrier that keeps them safely in the back and you able to drive carefully in the front. Consider safely belts. Lastly, teach them the Leave it Command and utilize the phrase when they bark at cars and people while you drive: https://wagwalking.com/training/leave-it. Good luck!

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Darcy
cockapoo
13 Years
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Darcy
cockapoo
13 Years

Darcy was frightened or hurt as a pup in the back of a pickup. He was not with me, he was with my daughter and was unrestrained. We live full time in a motorhome, so we travel a lot. He shivers and shakes the entire time we're moving. He doesn't whine, but he is clearly anxious. I'd like to add a puppy to our family but we are concerned that the puppy will learn this travel anxiety. What can we try?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, spend a lot of time in the car and motorhome with puppy while it is stationary. Make it as normal as possible by practicing obedience in there, feeding meals, having quiet time on the computer/reading while pup chews a bone. Make it as normal as spending time in a certain room in your house would be. Keep your other dog out of there while pup is developing a good association with the vehicles if you can (practicing these things with your other dog at separate times could help them too though). If you have to go somewhere with both dogs while in this introduction phase, keep them in separate parts of the vehicle - like puppy in a crate in one area or riding on the floor and wearing a car seat belt harness tethered to something secure on the floorboard, while older pup is in a crate or seat on the far end of the vehicle - you want pup to pick up on your energy while first deciding about the vehicle - not your other dog's. Once pup feels confident securely with the vehicle the other dog's attitude will have less of a potential negative effect. Take puppy with you as many places as you can and if the weather is nice, allow pup to take naps in a crate in the car and spend longer periods of time in there with you (as weather outside or air conditioning/heat allows). The goal should be for the car to become a completely normal place to be. It should be associated with fun or boring short trips to places like the park, pet store, and friends' homes most of the time. Pup should practice calming obedience commands in there such as Down-stay and Place. While in the vehicle with it moving, pup needs to ride somewhere calm like the floor with a doggie harness, in a seat in the down position with a doggie seatbelt harness, or in a crate - No wandering about the vehicle and climbing into laps or sticking their head out the window (I know that's fun - but calm is what you need to encourage to reduce anxiety). All of my own dogs typically ride in the car in a crate or wearing a seat-belt harness for at least the first year of their life until they are in the habit of riding calmly in the down position always (our family also used to live on the road for work in the past, so dogs went across the country with us constantly also). Creating a calm mindset and lying in the down position while riding can also help to prevent nausea - less nausea also helps with anxiety prevention. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Balou
German Shepherd
4 Years
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Balou
German Shepherd
4 Years

I trained my dog myself from a puppy and hes so smart! Unfortunately the second he gets in my small SUV he forgets all commands and acts has major anxiety. I want take him places but i cant get him to sit, stay, stop barking nothing. I want to take him places, he used to be ok in the car but winters here are long and over those months her forgets how to act in the car come summer. I will definitely try just hanging out in the car to see if that helps. Thanks in advance for any advice

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Apr, Definitely practice just spending boring time in the car. Practice a long Down-Stay for 30-minutes to an hour so often that the car is boring again. I suggest purchasing a dog seat-belt harness that clips or tethers into the seat belt, and getting him used to wearing that when not in the car first using food rewards - Reward all calm responses to the harness, not bouncing up and down and getting super excited. When he is used to the harness, then practice clipping in and out in the car but never going anywhere. Practice getting in and out of the car over and over also without moving the car. Finally, have someone drive or ride with you and enforce the Down-Command you have been practicing while the other person focuses on the road. Pup should be buckled into the car while wearing the car harness so that he has to ride in a down or sit position - a lot of moving around, head out the window and standing can add to car sickness and anxiety, so Sit and Down should be standard requirements to keep his arousal low. Practice going a lot of boring places often - nowhere scary like the vet if you don't have to, but just places where he gets out, goes on a short structured walk, then gets back in, or never even gets out of the car - just drives around the neighborhood and goes home after. You want to encourage a calm and bored mindset in the car to decrease arousal and anxiety. When he is doing well, add in trips to more fun places like a park or pet store. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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jemma
Pit bull
2 Years
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jemma
Pit bull
2 Years

jemma gets very protective of me in the car and will bark loudly, sometimes growling at people mad other dogs outside of the car. people in the car with her are fine, and she has no problem with people otherwise. what can i do to help the situation? thanks in advance- kailie

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, this can be a common problem but not easy to put up with, I agree. Jemma could just be really excited about what is going in outside the car. She could also b feeling protective of the small space you are both in. I would work on the Quiet Command, which works well not only in the car but in other situations. The command is explained here and it may take a while to perfect: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. Practice every day, being consistent with an upbeat attitude. There are other great tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-barking-in-the-car. Make sure that Jemma is riding in the back seat. Some dogs feel more secure if strapped in and some people will even tint the back windows to help prevent the barking. Others will give a long lasting treat or feeder toy as a diversion. Ideally though, teaching Jemma the Quiet Command is a good solution. All the best!

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Henk
Jack Russell Terrier
6 Years
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Henk
Jack Russell Terrier
6 Years

Henk is a rescue dog. We have had him 1 year. He behaves well in the car except when we get to our destination. He then starts barking at the driver and he sounds very hoarse and stressed. Its a heart felt bark and runs up our spine. We tell him to stop, bad boy etc, non agressively but he is so stressed and wont stop barking until he is out of the car. The journey itself is fine and he keeps stimulated with the window partially open or sleeps. Please help us all.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Diane, Since the barking stops when he gets out of the car, it sounds like he is highly aroused and excited/nervous about the new location. He needs help staying in a calmer state and changing his emotional response to new places. First, work on teaching the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, work on a Down-Stay in the car. First, while the car is stationary at home, then while the car is moving - with a second person riding and training so the other can focus on driving. Next, practice the Down-Stay at a new location once pup has gotten out of the car and returned to the car, then finally while pup is waiting to get out of the car in the first place. Practice quiet in situations where pup tends to bark normally once they have learned that command well. When pup becomes really good at getting quiet around other triggers, like the doorbell ringing and passing cats or dogs on walks, then practice Quiet at a new location. Don't let pup out of the car until they get quiet for at least a ten seconds - bring some headphones. When pup disobeys your quiet command - first while practicing around other distractions like the doorbell, briefly spray a puff of air from the pet convincer at their side to interrupt them. Only use unscented air - NOT citronella, it's too harsh, and only spray at their chest or side, NOT in the face. When they stay quiet for at least a minute after being corrected, reward with a treat or if they get quiet for even a couple of seconds without having to be corrected, reward with a treat. Once pup can respond well to the Quiet command and the correction in other situations, then practice the Quiet command and corrections in the car at new locations. Be calm and patient as much as possible while doing this. Yelling tends to make it worse, keeping your attitude what you want from pup while commanding and correcting tends to work best. I also suggest having pup wear a doggie harness and seat belt harness to help with sitting and down during the ride and to prevent jumping all around the car while barking. If pup has ever shown any form of aggression, you will need help doing the above safely and likely need extra safety measures like a basket muzzle, and especially the car harness to stay out of pup's reach. When pup finally gets to the point where they can stay quiet when you arrive, practice some obedience in the car before exiting, rewarding pup for focusing on you and obeying, so that they will start to anticipate that and their emotional response will stay calmer in general and not become overly aroused to begin with Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Finn
Portuguese Water Dog
6 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Finn
Portuguese Water Dog
6 Years

My Dog loves to go in car but once we start driving she chews seats, ceiling and door panels of car! She drools and pants excessively. She has major anxiety in the car. She will lie down if I tell her to but for only 2 seconds then will stand back up again and go from front to back seat. I have to place her in crate if we go anywhere but she drools and is so stressed. I would love for her to be able to lie down in the back of my SUV without being crated and not have so much anxiety. Do you think this is possible? Kathy

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kathy, First, continue the crating for necessary trips by yourself, while you are working on the following training, to help her not need the crate later. Start by practicing a Down-Stay in the car while it's parked and off. Do this every day that you can. You want it to become routine and boring enough, that pup starts to really relax in the car and not anticipate a ride each time they are in there anymore - resetting pup's car expectations essentially, and getting really good at Down Stay there. Next, practice the same thing but with the car in the driveway and turned on but not moving. For the sake or fumes and safety, the car needs to be outside while running and not in a garage. Do this often enough pup is again relaxed and staying well. Next, recruit a friend or family member to drive or train, so that the person driving's only job is focusing on the road. Practice simply driving out of the driveway and back in again, over and over, so that trips in the car are super boring and pup has to stay Down the whole time - keep a drag leash on pup in the car to enforce down if they try to get up. Watch pup's body language, practice the same step over and over again until pup is calm at that step and not drooling or showing any signs of stress. Pup laying on their side, sighing out a big sigh, falling asleep, or laying their head down willingly are all good signs that pup is relaxing. Expect repetition to be needed to get to that point, and if you move too fast through the training, this won't work, because calmness is what you are training not just down. When pup can handle the drive way, you are going to gradually increase distances but always keep things boring - around the neighborhood, to a park and home without getting out, other short trips, a short trip where pup gets out, heels around the block calmly, then gets back in and goes home, a trip to a busier place like a calm park, more heeling, then go home, ect... Gradually work up to places with a riding to enforce down while the other drives. Use the crate and try to limit trips to boring, calm places when you are on your own and pup isn't ready for more excitement yet. Finally, when pup can stay calm for routine trips in the car out of the crate with someone there to enforce down, and the person is no longer having to remind pup to stay down, then purchase a high quality car harness, like Ruffwear, and have pup ride using he car harness clipped into somewhere that encourages the down position, like a long seat they can lie down on or the floorboard of the middle of the car. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bunker
Labrador Retriever
10 Years
0 found helpful
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Bunker
Labrador Retriever
10 Years

Vehicles. He loves to go, even gets in and won't get out, Lol. But once we get going, he paces, barks, whines, sheds, and this is not normal. He does show general signs of anxiety when not in the car but nothing like while traveling. We adopted him 18 months ago and know nothing about his past. He was surrendered at our local vets by the family that had him since he was a puppy. We have tried everything we know to do; open Windows, treats, front seat, discipline. Nothing works! Help! Would love to take him more but stresses is out which we are sure doesn't support him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michele, I recommend desensitizing pup to the car and slowing the overall process down. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay command on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot f repetition before pup relaxed then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rika
Dachshund
2 Years
0 found helpful
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Rika
Dachshund
2 Years

My dog wants to come to the front seat and she'll whine if she cant. She'll also whine because she's not tall enough to look out the front window of the car.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ariana, I recommend working on things that build impulse control and quietness in the car regularly while the car is not moving. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Once pup can quietly do a Down-Stay in the car for an hour consistently, recruit another person to either drive or train, while you drive or train. The driver's only job should be driving. Have the trainer enforce down while you gradually add more driving to the training. Start with simply turning the car on. When pup can stay down and quiet during that, simply pull in and out of the drive way. Practice each step until pup has mastered down stay and quiet while doing those things. Gradually progress to drives in your neighborhood, drives to boring, close locations, more exciting locations, locations slightly further away, ect...Until pup has developed a habit of riding quietly in the down position in the car. You might also want to consider using a doggie seatbelt to keep pup seated or down in the back while you drive once pup is doing well and you don't need the second trainer/driver to come along. Riding in the down position and expecting that (instead of sometimes looking out windows and other times not) decreases arousal and helps pup stay calmer - and thus less whining, than pup's standing, pacing, or watching out windows. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Remi
Cocker spaniel mix
7 Months
0 found helpful
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Remi
Cocker spaniel mix
7 Months

My puppy has developed car anxiety in the last month or so. She shakes really bad and won’t get into the car on own. She only whines occasionally, but she freaks out until we get to our destination. Do you have ideas of how to ease car anxiety? Also, she is about 12ish pounds, what is the best way to have her in the car? (Kennel, dog seatbelt, etc.)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Olivia, I recommend desensitizing pup to the car and slowing the overall process down. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay command on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. Once pup can ride calmly in the down position consistently and you are ready to take pup on trips with just you again too, I recommend either a padded car harness that has been set up so that pup is riding in the down position in the middle or towards the front of the car still (the very back may increase car sickness if that's an issue), or a crate that is small enough pup will be encouraged to lie down and not stand up. Standing in general increases car sickness. If pup is riding in a crate, make sure that you have secured the crate so that it cannot slide around when you turn or stop - that can cause or increase anxiety in the car for a dog and be unsafe. Some dogs also slide around more in a crate than they would in a secure car harness. If pup seems to be constantly gripping the bottom of the crate and trying not to slide, a harness is probably a better option for them. In the end, both a crate and a padded harness are good safe options when you secure things properly and choose the right harness or crate though. Check out kurgo and Ruffwear brand car harnesses for an idea of what a car harness should look like - you don't want to use an unpadded harness in the car for safety and comfort reasons. A car harness should also have a padded chest plate specifically, like you will see in most of Kurgo and ruffwear's car harnesses. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Phoebe
Blue Pit
1 Year
0 found helpful
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Phoebe
Blue Pit
1 Year

Her and I travel quite often, I buckle her into a doggie seat belt and also keep travel bowls for her close. Lately, whenever I get out to go into a store or run inside to pay a bill she will chew my seat. Only the drivers seat, and has chewed the leather into shreds. She hasn't chewed on anything else until a month ago when she tore my seat up. Since the 1st time, it has happened a few more times. I bought seat covers and she has now began chewing my seat cover into shreds. Help me please!!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kourtney, Because the behavior is happening when you aren't there you will either need to crate pup in the car until she is a bit older and less likely to chew after 18 months to 2 years, or use a remote vibration collar and camera to spy on pup and interrupt pup every time they attempt to chew. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Pacquito
Pug
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pacquito
Pug
7 Months

Everytime we bring him to inside the car he so enegetic and he doesn't want to stay si.he can calm and he so noisy too.we try to bring him everytime we went outside to expos2 hime and changes his behavior.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary Ann, I recommend desensitizing pup to the car and slowing the overall process down. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay command on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ozzy
Border Collie
2 Years
0 found helpful
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0 found helpful
Ozzy
Border Collie
2 Years

Hi there. My dog is super well behaved in the car until we get on the highway. We’ve tried a leash tie, and now a soft crate, but he will start trying to paw or bite/rearrange things in the back seat. He doesn’t chew anything up. He occasionally whines, but only when we’re on the highway.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erica, He may be reacting to the vibrations involved in with faster speeds. I would try desensitizing him to those vibrations by recruiting someone to help train in the back with him, while the other person focuses just on the road. Even though he is fine at slower speeds, I would go back to the basics and work up to the highway, so that pup understands before you hit the highway what's expected of him and is conditioned to react more calmly by that point. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay command on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. I would also teach pup a Leave It command, so that that can be used when pup is doing a Down command fine, but still chewing things. Leave It section of article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Desmond
Spaniel mix
9 Years
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Desmond
Spaniel mix
9 Years

I am at my wits end with my dog and I’ve read through questions and feedback here and all seems useless to me and my situation. I’ve had my dog 6 years and he has been in the car many times. For the first maybe year or so he was completely fine riding in the car. Would just lay on the floor of the passenger seat. Then his behavior changed and to this day nothing has worked to calm him or restrain him. Dog seat belts and seat covers don’t work. Even with it being short it doesn’t keep him from being able to scratch up the doors or the front seats. He manages to pull as hard as he can stretching the seatbelt and his harness and since cars aren’t that big, he tries to make it to the floor even it it just means he’s hanging suspended or tangled in his harness. It’s kind of hard to explain but nothing has been able to restrain him. He is a burrowing breed so he’ll find any small space and paw as hard as he can to get past barriers or seat covers and manages to bunch up and pull the sides in even a sturdy cover until he gets under it. It wouldn’t be so bad if he just crawled to the floor and stayed there but he always ends up coming to the front and getting on my lap or crawling all over the center console. Lastly, I got him a crate and trained him at home with it and he does completely fine no problem. He does fine getting into it in the car. With the crate and every other method of restraint the bad behavior starts when the car starts and he won’t give up. Ever. I made the crate comfy and put his blanket in there and give him treats but he paws at all sides and the corners until he tires then starts again. He exerts himself so much that he got his paw tangled in his harness. Desensitizing him is pointless because he’s been on many car rides for many years. I don’t have someone to help me sit with him in the back every day to try to train or anything and it wouldn’t work anyway. He is relentless and I can’t stand to hear him just continue to stress in a crate/kennel until he hurts himself or can’t breathe because it’s not like they have a ton of air circulation. I adopted him as a adult and haven’t been able to correct any of his bad behaviors. He’s usually a good boy and listens to me but when the car is moving is when he refuses to obey. I’ve taken him on road trips and as long as he’s not being restrained he just sleeps the whole time and is fine but obviously it’s not safe and sometimes I use a car that isn’t mine so I’m not trying to leave it covered in dog hair. Just looking for any other possible solutions because I love traveling with him but he’s a difficult one

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brianna, I would pursue the type of training sometimes used for separation anxiety, with pup in the crate to start with. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training on Youtube and how he addressed more extreme separation anxiety cases when dogs are crated. I would work on that type of training, ideally with an assistant to make driving safer for you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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