The Uneventful Car Ride

Many dogs have very strong feelings about car rides. 

Some dogs get so excited to be in a car, they can't stand themselves. They may pant excessively with great anticipation (secretly hoping to be driven to the dog park or to a hiking trail),  whine with excitement, jump from the back seat to the front seat 40 times during your favorite Aerosmith song,  paw at the window or drool all over your leather seats. 

Other dogs, however, hate the car and will fight tooth and nail to avoid getting in.  

The behavior you want is for your dog to be pleasantly excited. You want him to easily hop in the car, but in a relaxed, mellow manner.

Many times, people make the mistake of only taking their dog for a ride to a place that holds very strong negative or positive associations for the dog. For instance,  if the only time you take your dog for a car ride is to take him to the park, don't be surprised if he gets overstimulated every time you grab the keys. If the only time you take him for a ride is to get him groomed or for his routine vet appointment, he'll most likely learn to not dig the car too much.

So try this. A few times a week (the more often the better), take your dog on an uneventful car ride. Put him in the car the next time you go to the bank or grocery store and leave him in the car while you run inside. Obviously, be careful to park in the shade on warmer days, crack the window, make your stays reasonably short and don't do this exercise on hot days. Once your errands are done, simply go back home. This way, your dog will learn that not all car rides lead to something exciting or dreadful. You can even take them for a quick ride around the block and then back home. In time, this will help your dog to be more relaxed about the car which will benefit the dog and will make having your dog join you in the car a more pleasant experience for you. 

If you have an extreme case, you may need to call in a professional. For most of you, a few boring trips to the post office and gas station will help round out his behavior in the car over time.

--Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer and Canine Nutrition Consultant

© Thriving Canine 2013