Dogs in cars? It is becoming more common to take your dog on car journeys, many of which end at a local park but how should you deal with them getting too excited?…
We have all seen this, if not with our own dogs then with other dogs we have seen in cars. The dog gets over-excited, barks, throws itself around the boot of the car and jumps out with huge excitement when they arrive at their destination (usually the local park!). It seems that no matter how much the owners calls on the dog to calm down, it can’t relax and rest until it is out of the car.
This behaviour is tricky to fix, mainly because you cannot get into a position when driving or being a passenger in the car, where you can command your dog in the way you can when standing in a normal environment.
This over the top behaviour is normally learned by the dog from the fact that a car journey always results in something very exciting at the end – walkies! An increase in the number of cars owned by families and in the number of accessible places to walk a dog has led to an increase in people driving their dogs to a specific place to walk them instead of walking from the house.
This is not necessarily a bad thing; a large park to run around in or a long woodland walk is definitely better exercise than a quick walk around the block. It can however move the problem of dogs getting over excited about going for a walk from the front door to the back of the car where it is more difficult to deal with.
How can dog owners deal with the problem?
There are a number of things you can do to calm your dog down when travelling. The first and most obvious is to limit the area the dog has to jump about in.
It can be dangerous for an over excited dog to have access to the whole car; it can distract the driver or be thrown forward if the car brakes harshly. To keep your dog confined in the boot, either fit a dog guard across the back of the boot behind the passenger seats or buy a dog crate. When buying a dog crate, you should look for one which allows your dog to stand up without stooping, and has enough space for him to turn around but not so much that he can jump around and charge at the sides. By confining his space, he may accept that he can’t jump about and learn to settle down instead.
If this does not work then you need to try and limit how much he can see out of the car. Smaller dogs can be tethered with a short lead so that they cannot jump up to window height. You can also try a crate cover or simply throwing a sheet over his crate.
You can use a noise device such as an anti-bark collar or a pet corrector to try and disrupt barking and whining. If using a collar then put it on before the dog gets in the car; after a few uses he should get the message that if he barks with this particular collar on then an unpleasant noise or smell will follow.
The final method is to stop the dog associating a car journey with an exciting walk at the end. Try not to use the car to take him for a walk for a week or two. Instead take your dog with you when you go to pick someone up, or when popping to the shops (although we would not recommend leaving your dog in the car on its own whilst you are shopping!).
By doing this, your dog will learn that not every car journey will end in a walk. After you have not taken him for a walk in the car for a few weeks you can start to use it for this purpose again, just be sure to take him on other journeys now and again to stop the problem coming back.
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Whether it’s dealing with excited dogs in cars or trying to find the best waterproof dog coats for your pet pooches, Percy Jackson is the man to go to. He has worked with dogs and other pets for many years and shares his knowledge and expertise on his site Percy’s Pets.