Helping a Dog with a Fear of Car Rides

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 6, 2020

dog with a fear of car rides

In this Omaha dog training session, we work on helping 4-year-old Coonhound mix Akira, a dog with a fear of car rides, overcome her anxiety.

Why does a Dog Fear Car Rides?

Some dogs are fearful of riding in the car because of a bad experience. Other dogs get anxious in cars because of car sickness or lack of positive experiences as a puppy. Some dogs exhibit territorial aggression in the car. The good news is you can use this technique I’m about to go over to help a dog with any of these issues.

To help a dog feel more comfortable in the car, focus on creating positive experiences. You should do this when the dog is calm and not reacting negatively. If your dog is showing signs of distress such as heavy breathing, drooling, whining, or barking, you are moving too quickly.

Other signs to watch for include stiffness, sniffing the ground instead of listening, and avoiding eye contact. It’s important to slow down and give your dog time to adjust if you notice any of these behaviors.

Many clients have told me that their dog’s training isn’t working anymore. Often, the reason is that the dog has reached its limit or threshold. Any work completed with a dog past its threshold is meaningless so go slow and don’t move too fast for your dog.

How to Help a Dog with a Fear of Car Rides

Training a dog with car anxiety takes a lot of patience and understanding. Keep in mind your dog may suffer from motion sickness, think they are taking a trip to the vet, or may just be fearful of car trips.

We helped a dog with a fear of car rides by practicing in the unfenced backyard, using a grill to represent the car. The principal is the same when helping a dog get over a fear of driving in the car. This is an easy way to help a dog get over its fear of the car, so easy in fact anyone can do it. Even if you are not a professional Coonhound mix dog trainer.

Learn how to help a dog with a fear of car rides in a free positive dog training video.

As you can see in the video above, Akira warmed up to the exercises quickly. We broke this process down into many steps and didn’t rush to move on. When helping a dog overcome a fear, it’s crucial to move at the dog’s pace.

Start by just having a dog sit near the thing that scares them and giving them treats. Once they start to get more comfortable, you can build on it. In this case, when Akira started getting excited for a treat, I could start touching the grill handle.

It also helped practicing with an object that she is not afraid of. Her understanding this exercise and process with the grill will help when her guardians start doing it with the car.

How to Stop Unwanted Dog Behavior

Another issue the guardians wanted help with was Akira’s bad habit of trying to steal food. I filmed a bonus video on how to teach a dog to stay behind an invisible line.

I recommend that parents have their child eat meals and snacks in different areas of the house and yard. This can help children understand boundaries. Eating in various locations can teach children where it is appropriate to eat. It can also help them learn about different spaces in their environment.

We created a video to remind guardians of the dog behavior tips from our in-home Omaha training session. You can watch the video below. You can watch it below.

Have a Dog with a Fear of Car Rides? Click Here to Book a Session
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This post was written by: David Codr