Dogs Riding in Cars. Why Some Love It But Others Don’t
You can’t help but smile when you see dogs riding in cars. A furry head poking out of a car window, a giant smile and tongue hanging to the side, it reminds you to take joy in the simple things in life. So why do some dogs riding in cars get car sick or fearful while others seem to love it?
As with anything your dog experiences it is all about their introduction and what a car ride means to them. Most puppies take their first car ride at 8 weeks. This is a big one. They are leaving the litter and their mom for the first time in their lives. Their second car ride is usually a couple weeks later when they go to the vet for an examination and puppy shots. Their third, fourth and fifth rides are usually to go back to the vet for boosters, and then to puppy socialization classes (see our previous blog post) or possibly to a pet store. All of these are extremely stressful/exciting/scary experiences for your puppy. Imagine if every time you got in the car when you got out you were either at a new job you didn’t know you were starting or at a family reunion you didn’t know was happening or giving a speech you hadn’t prepared for. Sounds stressful, doesn’t it? Pretty soon getting in the car would start to cause anxiety, nervousness and excitement. Dogs riding in cars can go thru the same anxieties.
I often crate young puppies in the car (weather permitting) in order to introduce it as just another place to rest. I will load them up, start the engine, make a phone call to kill some time and then unload them. Next I might drive to the end of the street and back. Pretty soon I am taking short drives to run errands and back home. Now the car ride is not something to be feared or a cause for excitement or adrenaline. For some dogs riding in cars is already scary, but this can be fixed by taking the same steps to reintroduce the car ride. The key is to go slow and remember to be consistent in your training, but not predictable in the patterns of what you do because they will put it together and anticipate what riding in a car means.