How to Train Your Puppy to Ride in the Car
How to Train Your Puppy to Ride in the Car
Car rides can be difficult for puppies and training them to ride in the car can be a major task. They don’t always understand that the car isn’t something to be afraid of, so they might cry or even get sick if you take them on a ride.
We know that sometimes, it’s necessary to bring your pup on a trip or transport them somewhere, and other times you simply want your furry companion to tag along and enjoy themselves. You don’t want them to dread the drive.
We have some great tips for how you can help your puppy (or dog) not be afraid of riding in the car. Do you want a calm travel companion who will look forward to riding with you? Check out our guide below!
- Positive Association
For many dogs, a trip in the car means a trip to the vet. To them, this means shots and stress, and that’s not fun at all. Even as a young puppy, your dog will remember what the vet’s office means, and they will learn to associate the vet with the car.
To help avoid this association, as soon as you introduce your pup to the car, associate the experience with happy things. Sit your puppy in the backseat, give them treats, and play with them. When your puppy knows that fun things happen in the car, they won’t be so hesitant.
Practice getting in and out of the car with your pup a few times and play with them while they’re sitting in the car. The first time you do this exercise, don’t even start the car or drive anywhere, simply practice play and positive association.
- Introduce Them Slowly
Many dog owners might try to hurry to get a puppy accustomed to riding in the car as quickly as possible; however, the best way to achieve the results you want is to take your time. Don’t rush your pup to immediately enjoy car rides. It will take time and patience.
The key is to act like it isn’t a big deal. We tend to “coo” at puppies, which often sounds to them like winning or crying. This can actually make them more afraid instead of making them feel at ease.
Practice getting in and out of the car a few times the first day you begin training. The next step is to get them used to you being in the front seat instead of sitting in the back with them. Give them some treats or a toy to keep them occupied in the back seat, get in the back seat with them like normal until they are distracted, then slip out and get into the front seat. Don’t start the car quite yet.
Do this exercise the next day, but this time, start the car. Don’t drive anywhere. Take a break and do this again at least two more times that day.
- Take a Short Drive
It’s best to take a very short trip the first time. Movement can be scary for a puppy, so try driving to the end of the driveway or the end of your street, and come right back. Do repetitions of this at least three or four times until your puppy gets used to the trip. It’s probably a good idea to do this a few times a day for about three days.
Your puppy might pace or whine the first few times but keep reinforcing positive association by giving them treats and rewarding them.
Every day, increase the distance just a little. Take a drive to town but stay in the car with your puppy the whole time. The first time you drive somewhere and stop, go someplace that your dog will enjoy. Take them to the park, the lake, or a friend’s house whom they’ve been introduced to. Wherever you stop, it needs to be somewhere fun.
The goal here is to make your dog want to go for a car ride. Make them anticipate the next trip!
- Reinforce the Fun
Every time you get ready to take your pup for a ride, keep reinforcing that it’s going to be a fun experience. This will help ease any nervousness or dread about where you’re going.
Keep treats on hand in the car so that you always have something to reward them with and bring your pup along with you to places you know they will love. For example, if you and your family are going to the lake or the park for the afternoon, bring your dog along to continue training them for car rides.
Things to Consider
When you begin training your pup to ride in the car, it’s a good idea to invest in a dog harness that will help keep them secure while traveling. It can be very dangerous for your puppy or dog to be in a car without a harness to hold them in place. If you were to crash or someone were to hit your car, the impact could be detrimental for your pup.
This step will also take time and patience, but as long as your pup learns to enjoy car rides, adding a harness to their car routine won’t be that big of an issue. They will adapt to it just like they adapted to the car, and it will ensure they are protected if an accident were to occur.
Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride
Some people think that they can’t train a worried, anxious, or even rambunctious puppy to enjoy car rides, but it’s possible! With a lot of patience, your puppy will be ready to go places with you without all the trouble!
If you have an adult dog that hates car rides, these tips are useful as well; however, your dog’s age might have some effect on how well these tricks work. It’s best to start when they’re young, but you can still put these exercises into practice to help ease the stress of car rides.
We hope that this guide has given you the tools you need to begin training your pup. Enjoy the training process and don’t forget that during training, your pup bonds tightly with you! Give them plenty of attention and be gracious with your time—it’ll pay off!
- Kirsten Starling