How Can I Teach My Dog to Enjoy Car Rides?

Once your dog is given a clean bill of health, you’ll want to provide him with positive associations with the car as early as possible. Start by getting your dog accustomed to being in his crate inside the car. Provide him with treats or meals while in the crate, without turning on the engine. Once he’s comfortable with that, try a short trip around the block, rewarding him for good behavior. As in the previous example, gradually increase the length of the car rides, building up tolerance with gentle, consistent handling and patience.

Try to end the ride with a pleasant experience, like a romp in the dog park or a hike in the woods. When you go to what can potentially be an unhappy place — such as the veterinarian, boarding kennel or groomer — be sure to have delicious treats to offer your dog.

If your dog still has trouble, you may need a little help from your veterinarian, and possibly from a trainer or behaviorist as well. In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help your dog leave old behaviors — and old fears — behind.

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