Teaching dog to drive: step-by-step training against fear

teach dog to drive training tips magyar viszla

If humans travel by car, the quadruped may not be absent naturally. Some fur noses find this less great. We have investigated the question: How to teach dog to drive a car – and without fear?

To drive relaxed with the dog in the car, that is the wish of every dog owner. Many four-legged friends also make it easy. They love driving and always want to be with you. But there are also pelt-noses, which run away from the car crouched, or start to whine and bark during the journey. How to get the dog used to driving a car?

It is important to build up the training slowly and gradually in order to get the dog used to the car. It would be best to start early – if possible already in the puppy age – with it. The car should be positively linked by driving only short distances, especially in the beginning – to places that are nice for the dog, which he can associate with great experiences.

Can a dog learn at any age to enjoy riding in the car or should this always be at puppy age?

In puppy age it is easier, because he is still more open to new situations. It is also easier if the dog learns from the beginning that driving a car is not a bad thing and simply belongs to it. But in small steps it is possible at any age. Driving should be taught to every dog, because then you can experience much more common ground. Especially in the vacation season, you do not have to organize a dog sitter, but can simply take your darling with you.

Bettina Hauser, animal protection qualified dog trainer & owner of the dog school'durch dick & dunn' in Wettmannstatten, Stmk.

How do I transport my dog best and also safest??

Dogs are considered cargo by traffic law, which must be secured in the car. So it is best to keep it in a (transport) box, behind a partition grid or strapped in with a harness. If there are several dogs, always make sure that each dog has enough space. Some dogs need more distance. In such a case, a separation in between is recommended.

How can such a car driving training look like? In single steps?

  1. It is very important to let the dog get to know the car from the outside and from the inside, the engine remains switched off. To prepare, place the car in a fenced area with the doors and tailgate open, place a blanket that the dog is familiar with, or place his familiar box with blanket in it. And move him to the place in the car where he will be later on. The dog needs his own place, which belongs only to him. It would make sense to get the dog used to the transport box in the house beforehand. So it can become a safe place for him to relax. With these familiar objects, such as a box and/or blanket, it is much easier for the dog to get used to the car, because he associates a sense of familiarity with it from the beginning.

Additionally you should scatter treats on the blanket in the car, because these encourage him to explore.

  1. Only in the next step you fetch the four-legged friend and let him – without taking him to the leash – calmly visit the car. It is important to give him enough time in the process. If he does not dare to explore the car, please do not push him to do so. Then you should make the beginning of the training even easier for him and feed him from his food bowl next to the car (as close as the dog dares to go) every day and move a little closer to the car every day.
  2. The next step is to put the bowl in the car. At first still at the edge, then a little further and further inside, until it stands on its cover and/or. just on the place in the car, where the dog should go later on.

The dog sets the pace, patience is very important here.

Some dogs prefer a toy. Of course, you can train in exactly the same way, for example, with his favorite ball. It is important that it is something that the dog likes very much, whether it is food or toys.

  1. If the dog gets into the car voluntarily and without visible fear, you can give him something popular to chew on his seat, so that he learns to stay calmly in this place.
  2. The doors are closed for the first time, when the dog is still outside the car, to see how he reacts. If he gets frightened, you give him treats – with enough distance – every time the door closes. Until he gets used to it.
  3. If the dog can relax in the car and he is also used to the door slam, then you can start to close the doors. If he has been inside the car several times with the doors closed for a while without showing fear, you can turn on the engine for the first time while the dog is lying or sitting in the car.
  4. For calm behavior with the engine running, you should praise the four-legged friend extensively, then gradually increase the time period. As soon as the dog relaxes in the car with the engine running – for example, lying down – you can drive a little bit.

The dog should be watched closely as soon as the car starts rolling (a helper driving the car can be very helpful in the beginning). For calm, relaxed behavior, praise the dog and reward him now and then (as long as treats don’t turn him on too much or make him sick). If he shows stress, it is best to stop and practice a little longer in a stationary car with the engine running. If he is relaxed, you can drive a short distance of maximum five minutes. If he is calm and remains relaxed, you can extend the trips.

  1. At the beginning it would be good to simply go for a ride or to stop at a particularly nice place (for the dog). Don’t let the dog out until he is calm, even if that may take a little time.
  2. Later he should also learn to stay alone in the car. But always pay attention to the outside temperatures! A car heats up – even if not too hot – after a few minutes with the windows closed.

How to behave when dogs bark repeatedly, z. B. when they see passing dogs?

Some dogs get very excited by the passing outside world. It would be advisable to cover the box with a light cloth, for example. Some dogs are reassured when they can see the owner during the drive, this gives them protection. Anxious dogs often calm down faster if a familiar person is near them and that person strokes them a bit during the ride. Even a dog toy can distract the four-legged friend.

However, there are dogs that prefer to withdraw a little bit. In this case you should not harass him in any case. For some larger dog breeds, dogs with physical limitations (spinal injuries, joint problems) or older dogs, an entry aid – such as a ramp – for the car is helpful. This makes a careful and slow exit and entry possible. But also here it is important to accustom the dog slowly – first without a car – to them.

That would be z. B. a few aids for a relaxed car ride:

  • A familiar blanket/box
  • a quiet music known to the dog, to which he likes to relax in the house
  • Essence mixture / a smell that the dog likes

If a dog is very reluctant to ride in a car or to a. has a fear of driving, what reasons can this have?

The reasons for this can be quite different:

The dog could drive the car linked to a negative experience/trauma Have (vet, change of owner, stressful situation, scared of something in the car). That is why it is so important that especially the first car ride is linked with a positive experience.

The dog gets sick: It is important not to feed for about two hours before the trip and during the trip, some dogs have sensitive stomachs. If the dog always gets sick, you should consider whether the place in the car is suitable. If he gets rocked back and forth too much, he needs a firm, secure place that doesn’t get rocked at every turn. Or the view of the passing landscape is not good for him. If there is no improvement with a change of place, it may be travel sickness. Then you should visit the vet.

The climate in the car but can also be the reason – if it is too hot, too cold or there is a draught – that the dog does not feel comfortable. A dog with thick undercoat for example does not like to get into a hot car.

How often and at what intervals should breaks (during long car trips) be scheduled?

Breaks are very important. every dog has its daily routine and its usual times for walking, which should be taken into account when driving the car. This varies from dog to dog, about every two to three hours would be a guideline. During the break, the dog should be able to stretch its legs and be given the opportunity to drink water so that it can recover from the car ride.

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