My Dog Won’t Listen in the Car

It is funny, I have had this question more in the past couple of weeks than I have ever in my career!

Perhaps more people are traveling with their dogs.

And, honestly, I think less people are actually spending time exercising and working with their dogs.

I think life gets busy and people give up on the basics; but they still expect their dog to behave in the car or at the baseball field without ever giving the dog much direction.

Quite honestly, to be blunt; that is not fair!

I wrote an article not long ago from kindergarten to college a lesson in dog training for more on that click the link.  But essentially the article goes into detail about how the average person takes their dog to puppy school or basic training and then expects them to go from a 6 week class where they are worked once a week (usually twice a week at best) to expecting them to have off leash skills like a service dog or a police dog.

First off

The only safe place for your dog in a car, during an accident is in a crate.  And, if you want to spare your dog’s life don’t skimp on the price.

Safety belts are getting better, since I wrote this article, but they still aren’t full proof. Click HERE

So if you are looking for safety first; you should look into a safe rated crate.

Otherwise there have been companies trying to pass safety requirements for seatbelts; search for them and their research!

And if you are worried about having a wreck… it is obviously safer to have the dog in a crate!

Now…

Dogs are great, they live in the moment, but they don’t always generalize.

Meaning

Just because they know sit or down at home with no distractions doesn’t mean they are going to jump to your command in a new or distracting environment.

You actually have to train for that!

I’ve Been There

My Dutch Shepherd has very high drive.

When she was young, she had a desire to chase headlights and car that passed while we were in the car!

It is disturbing, at best, to have a dog jumping from front seat to back seat and lunging at windows.

So What Do You Do?

Train in the car!Dog in the car

You have to train for it!

I can’t assume that the obedience I had taught her at home will transfer to a new location with a high level of distraction.

It doesn’t make sense if you think about it.

You can’t correct the behavior.

Heck you can’t even concentrate on your dog when you are driving.  Or at the very least you shouldn’t be trying.

So instead you have to grab your treats, your clicker, your dog and his leash and head out to the car and drive to a place where you know you can work.

For instance:

My dog had most issues at night with passing headlights.

So we headed to  a pull off on the interstate one night and to a busy truck stop another.

Was it convenient?   No, it was not.

But was it worth the inconvenience?  YES!!!

If she got over the top with her prey drive and wanted to chase and bark; I made her lie down so she couldn’t look.

The thing is, she likes to look!

So losing the privilege of looking was a big deal to her, so she learned to contain herself so that she would have the privilege of looking at what she wanted.

I was able to reward her when she laid down.  I was able to reward her when she averted her eyes from wanting to chase.  And, I was able to teach her what my expectations are in the car!

  • She learned that even in the car I have control!
  • She learned to respect me in the car.
  • And, she learned there were repercussions to her bad behavior.

It was a crucial learning experience for both of us.

So if you have a dog that wants to fight with other dogs, fight with people, chase cars, chase skateboards; whatever your problem.

Grab your dog, his leash, treats, your clicker and find a spot where you can train.

If it is a dog; drive to a busy green belt or near a dog park.

If it is people, go to the Walmart parking lot.

Skateboards: skate park…

You get the idea!

But deal with it proactively and TEACH your dog what your expectations are while you are not driving.

And, drive and repeat until he gets the idea!

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Comments

  1. Fannie Cruse says:

    I have two yorkies 1year old. I have great results in your program for obedience training. After you succeed in training your dog good car manners, and you seldom take him along, does he forget what you expect of him?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Just like anything else, if you don’t work on it you may lose it!

    [Reply]

  2. A G says:

    My labrador is highly charged in the car. He will not sit still at all, and keeps barking non-stop. Generally, my husband is in the driver’s seat and I sit with our dog on the back seat holding his leash, trying to make him calm and calming my husband down too, who gets irritated with the constant barking. I know from your post that we should train him (and probably us too!) more often to how to behave in the car, but should I continue to sit with him in the back? Is that good?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Not unless you are training

    [Reply]

  3. Angela says:

    My dog is 7 months old and still gets very sick in the car. Even 10 minute trips.

    [Reply]

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