Q&A: Help! Our Dog is Afraid of Riding in the Car!

Hello, Our rescue dog is terrified to get into a car or truck. He’s 8 months old and a Aussy/Lab mix. How can we get him more comfortable with riding in the car? Thanks you. ~Lana K.

Your 8-month-old rescue is terrified of the truck, and you’re trying to make him feel secure? Don’t worry, I can help! The actual training won’t start until step three below.

Step One: Ask yourself ‘why’ your rescue is terrified of the truck. Is it loud noise? Poor suspension? Previous accident? Or perhaps a negative experience with a former owner? Treating the problem will be easier once you can figure out why it is happening.

Step Two: Whenever you can, relate positive experiences to the truck! Plenty of praise, food, or other pleasant incentives! You want your pup to associate good things with your car rides, not fear.

Never punish your pup; relate only positivity. Unless absolutely necessary, try not to force your puppy into something he is afraid of.

Step Three: Start small (and I mean small). At first, just try walking your pup around the truck, showering him with praise, and rewarding him with treats. You are solely creating positive associations while not overwhelming him too early. The principle is called counter conditioning via desensitization if you want to read more.

Step Four: After doing this a few times, preferably after a few days, you can help your pup into the truck. Sit there for a little in your driveway, play with your pet in the back, etc. Reward your puppy for getting into the truck.

Once he is comfortable with this, you can go for short drives down the street, or around the block. It’s important to move slowly, gradually, letting your pet adjust in his own time. I completely understand why that might not always be possible, so there is another option during those first days.

Medication Option
Your veterinarian can prescribe calming medication, or at the very least discuss that option n depth with you. Even something as simple as Benadryl can have a mild sedative effect and make those rides easier.

I would always suggest discussing any medications with your veterinarian to rule out any potential complications, but the dosage is 1mg. Per pound of bodyweight. This is an exception; many human medications we wouldn’t think twice about can cause harm. If you check the active ingredients, it should be 100% Diphenhydramine

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Junior Watson

Junior is the DogTrainingBasics.com resident "Top Dog". He enjoys walks in the park, chasing invisible cats, and of course... bacon strips!

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