How To Train Your Dog To Ride In The Car

Dogs are amazing animals. They can be your best friend, protector and even a co-pilot in the car. If you are planning to use a pet transport service, being comfortable during a car ride is a must. For some dogs, teaching them to ride in the car can be a challenge.

If your dog doesn’t love the car, it’s usually because they aren’t used to it, because of physical discomfort like car sickness or fear and anxiety. In this article, we will provide some tips on how to train your dog to ride in the car safely and comfortably.

Determine Why The Dog Doesn’t Like The Car

If the problem is physically based, such as car sickness, you’ll need to prepare in advance. Up to 48% of puppies and dogs experience car sickness, although they frequently outgrow it. However, even if dogs eventually outgrow it, those early driving encounters can leave a lifelong relationship between cars and feeling uncomfortable. It is advisable to start driving with your dog when they are young pups and keep doing so for the rest of their life.

training dog to ride in car

Some things that help dogs get over motion sickness are:

  • Positioning – dogs may be more likely to get car sick if they can’t see out the window. Position them so they can see what’s happening and that will help to sync with the movement their body is feeling.
  • Ginger – find or make dog treats or biscuits with ginger which has an anti-nausea effect.
  • Fresh air – crack a window if you see your animal looking uncomfortable or starting to lick their lips. The fresh air can help that feeling pass more quickly. Don’t open the window so wide that they can stick their head out or jump out of the car.
  • Medication – anti nausea medication can help to break the cycle of negative feelings for your dog.

If car sickness isn’t an issue for your pet, you can try to following tips to get them comfortable with taking car rides safely.

getting dogs comfortable for a road trip

Start With Basic Obedience Commands

Before you attempt to teach your dog how to ride in the car, it’s important that they understand basic obedience commands. This includes commands like sit, stay, come and heel. Start teaching these commands at home while you are still on the ground so that your dog feels comfortable with them before getting into the car.

Introduce The Car Slowly, Starting With Short Trips

Once your dog is comfortable with the basic obedience commands, it’s time to introduce them to the car. Step one, you need your dog to be comfortable near a car. Once they are, try letting them check out an open car door. Then try and have your dog sit inside the car while you are standing outside. Build up to joining your dog in the car and turning on the car engine. Take it slow and each time you get a relaxed behavior that pleases you, immediately reward your pet with treats, praise or both. Space the reward out after longer periods of calm Once your pup feels comfortable with this, start taking short trips around the block. This should help your dog adjust to being in a moving vehicle and build their confidence.

Use Positive Reinforcement To Reward Your dog For Good Behavior

Positive reinforcement plays an important role when training any animal and dogs are no different. Offer rewards for good behavior such as treats, verbal praise, or going to the dog park, and be sure to give lots of love throughout the process. This will help create a positive association between car rides and something your pup enjoys like a tasty treat or cuddles from you!

How To Make Sure Your Dog Is Comfortable And Safe In The Car

There are a few things you can do to make sure your dog is comfortable and safe in the car. First, make sure your dog has a safety harness or carrier that will keep them secure and in place. When using a pet transport service with either private or shared pet transport services, your dog will be traveling in a pet travel crate, so don’t skip this step when acclimating your dog for a comfortable car ride.

Second, try to keep the temperature in the car moderate, not too hot or too cold. And finally, always drive carefully and avoid sudden stops and turns that could potentially scare or injure your dog. Ensuring you dog is comfortable on a car ride will help them enjoy the ride more and make training easier.

Be Patient And Keep Practicing Until Your Dog Is Comfortable Riding In The Car

Training your dog to ride in the car is a process and will take time. Be patient and try to keep practice sessions short and pleasant. If you start to feel overwhelmed, stop for a break or come back to it another day. With patience, consistency and lots of love, your pup will soon be riding in the car like a pro!

Don’t Force Your Dog To Ride In The Car If He Doesn’t Want To

Additionally, if your dog still doesn’t seem comfortable getting into the car after many car rides, don’t force him. Maybe he’s just not meant to be a car rider or he gets car sick and that’s okay! Instead, focus on activities that you can do together on foot like going for walks or playing fetch in the park. Or if traveling a long distance flying could be another option.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to training dogs to ride in the car. Every pup is different so practice patience and make sure you give them lots of love along the way. With enough time and effort, your pet will eventually learn to enjoy car rides with you! Good luck!

driving with dog in the car

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will fresh air help my dog’s car sickness?

A: Some people believe that fresh air will help, while others believe that it will make the situation worse. It ultimately depends on the individual dog and what makes them feel better. You could try opening the windows while driving to see if your dog feels better, but if it doesn’t seem to make a difference, then close them back up. In our experience, fresh air is more often helpful. Even opening a window a couple of inches will provide fresh air and will equalize inside and outside air pressure and that can help reduce nausea. Keeping the car cool and well ventilated is helpful, too. As always, it’s best to consult with your vet if you are unsure about how to handle your dog’s car sickness.

Q: Will a harness or seat belt make car trips more uncomfortable for my dog?

A: A harness may make car trips more uncomfortable for your dog because it can restrict movement and cause chafing if they aren’t the right size for your pet. Read the manufacturers instructions for sizing before you buy so your dog is as comfortable as possible. A seat belt is may be a better option for some pets because it will not restrict your dog’s movement as much while helping to keep them safe if your vehicle comes to a sudden stop.