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Like most of us, you have probably seen more than one pickup truck going down the road with a dog standing in the back with his face in the wind. You would think that as much as the dog seems to be enjoying himself, that it wouldn't be a big deal getting him to hop up in the back. And, while it might look like fun for the dog, if he is not properly secured, your dog could become injured or worse.
So, if you are going to have your dog ride in the back of your truck, be sure he has some way to remain safe and secure while he is there. This being said, there is no reason you can't train your dog to ride in the back of your truck provided you have a proper restraint system in place or that you are not cruising down the open highway. Remember, the safety of your pup is paramount.
The basic concept is that you will be training your dog to jump up into the back of your pickup truck and then to remain there while you are driving. Getting him in there is only one part of the problem and probably the easiest. The hard part is getting him to stay in place. This means staying put not only while you are moving down the road, but when you come to stop signs, red lights, and anywhere else where you and your vehicle come to a halt.
Bear in mind that if your pup should get it in his mind to jump out of your truck, he is at risk of serious injury or worse. No matter what, be sure you secure your pup in the back of your truck with a leash or a topper to avoid the risk of injury.
The first step in training your dog to jump into the back of your truck is getting him to physically jump into the bed. After that, you need to spend a lot of time getting him used to being in the bed both while your truck is in motion and at a stop. Keeping him in the back of the truck is relatively easy, making him stay there is a different picture.
But before you start training your pup to ride in the bed, be sure to check local and state laws as many states now have laws in place making the transportation of live animals, such as dogs unsecured in the back of a pickup truck, illegal.
The Treat Method
Getting in the truck
The first step is to get your dog in the back of the truck.
Use a treat
The fastest way to get your dog to jump into the back of your truck is to drop the tailgate and toss one of his favorite treats in the bed after showing it to him.
Prepare the truck for your pup
Add a rubber mat to the bed of your truck so that your pup has something to grip onto while you are in motion.
Tell him to load
Tell your pup to 'load', 'load up', or 'get in' or use another command of your choice. Just be sure you use the same command each time. If he jumps into the back of the truck, give him a treat and praise him. If not repeat the process until he figures it out.
Tell your pooch to lie down on the mat and give him a treat when he does. Leave him in this position for several minutes. Then release him let him out of the bed so that he can run around and stretch his muscles.
Repeat this process
Do this over the course of several days until he seems to feel comfortable laying in the back of your truck before moving on.
Have your pup jump up in the bed, attach his leash to the securing lug and start your truck. This will give him time to get used to the noise of the truck running before you start driving.
Time for a drive
Take off nice and slow at first, try finding a very quiet location to start with. One without traffic, if possible. If he gets up and starts acting like he wants to jump out of the truck, stop and make him lay down again.
Once he is used to being in the back of a moving truck, slowly increase your speed and travel in areas where there is a little more traffic. It may take a few weeks for him to feel fully comfortable riding in the back of the truck. Just remember, your pup should always be secured in the bed to ensure he can't jump out or be flung out in the event of an accident.
The Demo Method
Start with a friend
Have a friend with a dog who already knows how to jump up in the bed come for a visit.
Bring your pup over to watch the other dog getting in and out of the truck bed.
Now bring your pup over to the back of the truck on his leash and give him your command to load up while loosely holding the leash. It might take a few attempts for him to understand what is expected, but when he does, be sure to give him lots of praise and treats.
Everyone goes for a ride
With both dogs secured in the back of the truck, go for a slow ride. Let your pup learn the appropriate behavior from his buddy. Be sure to go nice and slow at first while your pup gets used to the motion of the vehicle.
Pick up the pace
Once your pup seems to be comfortable riding in the back of your truck you can start traveling a bit faster and going for a longer drive. Remember, having your pup riding in the back of an open truck is dangerous and not recommended, but if you decide to do so, make sure he is properly secured in place or better yet, in a kennel or enclose your truck with a topper.
The Couch First Method
Start in the house
Start training your pup to jump up indoors before you try the truck.
Use the couch
Start by teaching your pup to jump on and off the couch. It is much lower than the bed of your truck. Use treats to entice him to make the leap and repeat until he will do so without any hesitation--try to get him to do it without treats.
Move the training outside to your truck and using the same process, teach him to jump in and out of your truck. This is important, be sure to work on it until your pup will jump in and out every time. Be sure to use plenty of treats and praise.
Secure your pup
Be sure you have a rubber mat on the floor of the bed to help your pup keep his footing on the bed or for him to lay down on and a way to keep him from jumping out of the bed.
Slowly does it
Start the engine and let your pup get used to the sounds and vibrations before you move slowly out of your driveway and onto the road. Give him plenty of time to get used to the feelings of motion and wind before you start speeding up. The longer you can give him, the more likely he will be to enjoy the experience. Take your time and make it fun, just be sure to keep him safe at all times.
By PB Getz
Published: 10/23/2017, edited: 01/08/2021