We all must have come across one incident or another about a dog jumping out from inside the car. Such incidents are a big reminder about how important it is for dogs to be properly restrained and trained about travelling in cars. Dogs must be taught safe car manners.
For everyone’s safety dogs should not ride in the driver’s lap, nor may they be blocked from the vehicle. Dogs should also not ride in the back of a truck (which is illegal in most areas), whether they are loose, tied, or crate. When dogs board a car, they must be in a crane or secured with a seat belt that has been tested for crashes.
Seat belts are a great choice if your car is not big enough to fit a crate that fits your dog properly. This will prevent your dog from being injured or taken out of the car in case you have to break the brakes immediately, or in a serious accident. If your dog has a seat belt in the back seat of your car be sure to unlock the child locks to prevent your dog from painting the door and accidentally opening the window.
You also want to keep only the windows that are completely closed or cracked. Never let your dog get in the car with his head out the window as this could cause injury to the dog jumping out of the car as I have seen, or the eyes of a dog injured by flying debris.
Traffic Training for Dogs
Although the movement of cars comes naturally to us, it is not something that dogs automatically understand. As soon as your dog or puppy arrives home, start teaching your dog to behave safely and calmly in your car and near you.
- To start, make your dog comfortable and get acquainted with the protective equipment (case or seat belt) ahead of time outside of the car.
- Let your dog explore the seat belt or case and provide handling and praise by approaching and sniffing equipment.
- Keep training times short and fun and when your dog is comfortable with a crate and seat belt you are ready to get in the car.
- Have a friend or family member drive the car when you introduce your dog to the car so you can focus on working with your dog without any worry.
- Depending on the age / health / size of your dog lift your dog into the car or encourage it to jump. Praise and load by loading the car. Lock your dog in his crate or fasten his seat belt.
- Start car training without a planned trip in mind so you don’t rush and you can start with just a little driving on the road, especially if you already know that your dog is happy or struggling in the car. Recommend and treat (minor treatments that are unlikely to irritate his stomach) your dog with any calm and relaxed behavior: not barking, laying down, etc.
- As your dog is comfortable in the car you can vary in the degree of intensity (handling) and the length of the drive you are taking.
Getting Out of the Car Safely
When you get to your destination, it is important that your dog does not get stuck in the car during the opening or closing of your dog’s seat belt, even if you are having a good time. To support your dog by increasing pressure control and waiting they are properly pulled and given permission to leave the car. Going to places is fun so we want to build our dogs by being in the car, and calm in the car. If your dog is usually happy while in the car you can start teaching the car to get out of the house without going anywhere.
When you are ready to get your dog out of the car, take a moment to sort it out and adjust your leash and handling.
When opening the door where your dog is tied / crate, compliment and reward calmness.
- If your dog starts to get overly excited or anxious, stop what you are doing. You want to avoid going further and let your dog out while over excited as it will reward you with unwanted behavior.
- As you open the case / undo the seat belt and click on your dog’s leash, keep praising and handling.
- Give your sign of release verbally so that your dog can jump out of the car (if it is safe for your dog to do so) or as you lift your dog out of the car.
- Compliment and treat your dog by standing quietly next to you, or if you prefer to get your dog to sit down and praise / treat your dog calmly next to you as you close the door and prepare to leave.
- The aim is to create a habit with the number of our dogs to stay close to us and out of traffic by helping them understand that they need to wait for our direction to leave the car park.
Additional Tips: On- Drive Training
An easy-to-forget feature of training good driving habits is helping your dog to become accustomed to drive-throughs and gas stations. These situations can be especially stressful or can cause dogs to become overly excited, to frighten young people, or to be cautious. This is of great concern to dogs wearing seat belts as they see through the windows and watch as people approach the car. Be prepared to handle and give your dog a lot of compliments and handling if gas station staff approach your car or if some stressful contact occurs. Always make sure your back windows are completely closed to prevent your dog from sticking its head out, and to prevent people from reaching out to your dog. Some motorists offer special doggy menus or treat dog treats which is fun but be sure to wait for your dog to calm down before giving your dog any punching treat.
When driving, remember that you are responsible for your own safety and that of others on the road. You will not be disturbed by anything in the back seat that will take you away from focusing on your car safely. Having your dogs properly trained and controlled in your car will allow you to focus on the action you have already taken.