How To Train A Dog To Get In The Car (And Travel In The Car)

Have you ever struggled with a dog that doesn’t want to be in the car, resulting in a nightmarish journey?

This happens very often, as most dogs dislike being in the car and feel scared or uncomfortable, resulting in a sort of battle to try and keep them still and calm, for the sake of both safety and peace. 

How To Train A Dog To Get In The Car (And Travel In The Car)

This is why it is essential to train your dog to be able to get in a car and travel in a car for a good amount of time without feeling stressed, and without causing any trouble.

Of course, if you don’t own a car or never travel with your dog, this isn’t as necessary. But regardless, it is always a good thing to train just in case your dog ever needs to travel in a car! 

So…how do you train your dog to get in the car? And how do you get your dog to then stay in the car and travel calmly? How do you do it safely? And what if your dog is especially anxious around cars? 

Not to worry, we have all the answers! 

Keeping Dogs Safe In The Car

The first thing to make sure of, when training your dog to travel in the car, is that your dog is going to be safe and that everything will be up to regulation. 

Firstly, you will have to adapt the car so that your dog can travel within it safely.

The Highway Code states that dogs need to be suitably restrained, usually with the use of a seat-belt harness, a pet carrier, a dog cage, or a dog-guard that separates the boot or back of the car from the front.

Essentially, your dog needs to be secured and safe, so that they do not interact with the driver, as this could be very dangerous. Make sure you have the right harness or security measure in place for your dog, of the appropriate size, and that it adheres to highway regulations. 

There are also a few other dog safety rules that you should follow.

  • Do not leave your dog alone in the car (if you have to leave your dog alone in the car, make sure it is not for long, and that your dog has air to breathe, and the air conditioning on in order to not overheat, you should also leave a note to indicate that you will only be gone for a few minutes!) 
  • Make sure you train your dog to not jump out of the car until you give the signal. This is very important, as otherwise, your dog might jump out as soon as the door is opened, and there could be a car or similar on the road, or your dog could get injured in a number of different ways. 

How To Train Your Dog To Get In The Car

Let’s get into the actual training in order to get your dog in the car, for travel purposes. 

Firstly, we want to say that you will need someone to help you with most of the training, or at the very least the part of the training in which you will have the car move, as you can’t have one person both drive and keep an eye on the dog!

Once your dog is fully trained and adapted to the car, you can be by yourself as the driver, but until then, make sure there is someone else with you! 

There are many ways in which to train your dog to get in the car, and you should adapt to the dog’s particular needs with specific techniques and methods.

But here is a basic step by step guide, on how we recommend you go about the process.

Make Sure The Car Is Safe And Prepared For The Dog

First of all, before you start training your dog to travel in the car, you need to make sure that the car is a safe environment and properly adapted for your dog.

You can convert the back of the car by adding a dog guard to separate it from the front or convert the boot by making it comfortable and dog-proof.

Alternatively, you could use a big dog cage, a carrier, or simply use a seat-belt harness. Also, make sure your dog gets used to the safety measures.

For example, if you’re going to be using a seatbelt harness, your dog first needs to become used to wearing a harness, before you even try it out in the car. 

Make The Car A Good Place

The first thing you need to do, in order to get your dog to calmly travel within the car, is to make the car a good place. The car needs to be a place of comfort, and it needs to be enjoyable.

Essentially, you have to get your dog to associate being in the car with good things, like praise, treats, quality time, and going to nice places. That way, your dog will be happy and excited to go in the car, rather than nervous and anxious. 

The best way to do this is to use treats. Lure your dog into the car with the use of treats, and if your dog remains seated and calm, reward with more treats and plenty of verbal praise.

Make sure that any time your dog is in the car it is as nice as possible, and keep reinforcing calm behavior with treats and praise so that your dog eventually relaxes instinctively, because that is what is expected.  

Train Your Dog To Enter And Exit The Car

Next, you need to train your dog to enter and exit the car upon your signal. Use treats and verbal cues to teach your dog to wait, in front of the car door, and to then jump in when you give the signal.

The same goes for exiting, your dog should wait inside the car, even if the door is open until you give the release signal and they are allowed out. 

Acclimatize Your Dog To Travel In The Car

When the car first starts moving, your dog might get scared by the motion or the noise of the motor. Start with very short journeys, and slowly get your dog used to traveling within the car for longer and longer. 

Make sure that the first few trips in the car are to take your dog somewhere nice so that they further associate the travel with something good and to be happy about. 

Be Prepared For Everything

You should make sure to have water for your dog, in a non-spill bowl, as well as treats and snacks. You should also learn to plan toilet breaks so that your dog doesn’t have any accidents inside the car. 

And if a journey is going to be longer than usual, you might want to use products or supplements that will keep your dog extra calm and relaxed. 

Summary

Training a dog to get in the car, and then travel calmly without causing any trouble, is extremely important. Not only for safety reasons but so that your dog can remain calm and quiet during the journey, for the sake of everybody in the car! 

First of all, you need to adapt the car so that it is a safe environment for your dog. Then, you need to train your dog to enter and exit the car safely, as well as get your dog used to being in the car.

The main thing is to get your dog to associate the car with good things, so that the dog is happy and eager, instead of fearful and anxious. 

Daniel Johnson
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