Is it possible to train a dog or puppy to travel in a car or, more to the point do you even have to consider training him/her? Surely you would just put the dog or puppy in the back of the car and away you go. You just drive to your destination, no training required. If only that were the case and it was that simple.
In an ideal world, that is exactly what would happen. But, just because you are used to getting into a car and think nothing of it, we are talking dogs and puppies here and putting him/her into a car for the first time can be whole new daunting and sometimes stressful experience.
So we have established that you cannot take for granted the fact that a dog or puppy will be entirely comfortable with being put into a car and driven around. So what steps can we take or training can we do to help him/her get used to a car and travelling in it?
The factor to any type of training is consistency on your part so; you must start as you mean to go on and be prepared to put some effort in.
The car, to a dog or puppy should almost be an extension of his/her bed, so it is viewed as a comfortable, safe place to be in and not a threat or in any way intimidating. The biggest two differences to him/her of course will be the engine noise and the movement of the car.
It is important to have some control of a dog or puppy in a moving car. It would be a dangerous and foolish thing to have him/her unrestrained. A dog guard is the easiest option to keep a dog confined or a harness that can be attached to the seat belt.
Acclimatise your dog or puppy by just letting him/her sit in the car with the engine running for short periods of time. He/she may be curious and investigate these strange surroundings, let him/her do this and once he/she realises that there is nothing threatening about the car he/she will soon settle.
The next step in training to progress is to then take him/her for short car rides so that he/she gets used to the motion of this new experience and it will soon sink in with a dog or puppy that the car is nothing to worry about.
A problem that can arise with the car training is one of excitability. This may sometimes happen because as dogs and puppies learn by repetition, once he/she realises that a ride in the car usually means a walk at the other end, he/she cannot control the excitement.
The best way to deal with this is, to put the dog or puppy into the car and leave him/her for a short time but do not travel anywhere, then take him/her out again. Do this a few times but occasionally drive a short distance with no walk, straight back to base and take him/her out of the car. After a time he/she will have no idea what to expect and so his/her anticipation level has been diminished.
This will take some hard work but just imagine the satisfaction of glancing in the rear view mirror seeing a contented dog or puppy curled up and sleeping quietly for the duration of the journey.