Your Puppy’s Car Manners: What he has to know
Does your puppy dig in all fours when you go to put him into the car? This behavior is quite normal. He may experience car sickness, fear, hyperactivity and unruly or territorial issues while in the car. If so, it is your responsibility to ease those fears and transform the experience of riding in the car into a positive one.
If your puppy digs in and resists when you go to put him into the car, he is afraid. It may be because he gets car sick. Puppies tend to associate cars and other vehicles with unpleasantness. If this is the case, you need to re-introduce your puppy to your car in a very positive and non-stressful way.
Begin by sitting in the car with your puppy on your lap, leaving the door open. Don’t start the car’s engine or go anywhere. Just sit in your driveway or garage, stroking your puppy’s fur and reassuring him that there’s nothing to be afraid of. It won’t take long for your puppy to realize that nothing unpleasant is going to happen. Continue to do this until your puppy stays calm when you enter the car. Once that happens, it’s time to move ahead. Sit in your car with your puppy on your lap and the door closed. Then, progress to starting the engine without moving. Allow your puppy to get used to the sound of the engine; when he remains calm and relaxed with the engine running, drive around the block.
When your puppy becomes comfortable with short car trips, it’s time to take longer rides. Progress slowly. Drive around two blocks, then five, finally arriving at a destination that your puppy enjoys, like a beach, park or friend’s house. This will give your puppy time to adjust and associate riding in the car with pleasant and enjoyable experiences.
There may be times when your puppy over-reacts and you have to slow down the progress. This is fine. Do not rush your puppy, or you will end up beginning all over again because his fears will return. Let him set his own pace and pay close attention to his reactions.
Rather than dig in all fours, some puppies become hyperactive and unruly when they get into the car and if this is the case, your need to teach your puppy good car manners. Take him for short rides to places that do not end at this favorite place. Teach him to lie down when in the car, or even to sit on the seat. When he enters the car, give the command. Make him stay in place leaving the car parked. Once he understands and obeys, take him for a short drive, making certain that he stays in place. If he doesn’t, stop the car and give the command again. Continue in this way until he obeys the command for short drives, and then increase the distance a little at a time. Be persistent and your puppy will soon realize what is expected of him. If, after working with your puppy for several weeks, he continues to have bad car manners, it is best to restrict him while he’s in the car. Purchase a crate or car harness.
It is imperative, for the safety of both you and your puppy, that he have immaculate manners while driving in the car and it’s up to you to teach him. The key to a well trained behaved puppy is patience, perseverance and repetition. Good luck and happy motoring.