Your puppy's first experiences riding in a car will influence his or her future
reactions to being taken for a car ride. Fortunately, owners can take steps to
prevent or reduce their puppy's stress and fear.
1) For the first few days or so, introduce your puppy to your car by
putting him in the car, praising him and offering him a small meal or a few
treats, then taking him back out of the vehicle.
2) Once your puppy appears comfortable being put in the car, turn the
engine on while he eats, chews on a rawhide bone, plays with a new toy or just
sits on your lap (or in his crate) in the back seat.
3) Once your puppy feels confident being in the car while the engine is
running, begin taking your puppy for short, pleasant daily car rides,
preferably in his crate, or in a puppy safety seat. Once or twice around the
block will suffice.
Keep in mind that both your mood and the attitude you project, as well as the
destination of each ride, can greatly influence your puppy's experience. Handle
the situation calmly and cheerfully, and choose a destination that your puppy
enjoys (such as a nearby dog run or local park), so that he associates car
rides with going somewhere pleasant.
If instead, the first several car rides together end up with your puppy getting
his "shots" at the vet's office or his nails clipped at the groomer, or with
your losing your temper in traffic jams, your puppy may become nervous and
reluctant to repeat the experience.
4) If your puppy is crate trained, crate him when going for a ride. A
sturdy crate will help to make your puppy feel secure, and can help protect
your puppy in case of an accident or if you should have to brake suddenly. It
also prevents your puppy from suddenly jumping onto the driver or the gas
pedal, which can cause a serious accident. Crating your puppy or dog will also
protect your car seats from your puppy's shedding fur and dirty paws. And
should he become ill or decide to "do his business" en route, a crate will save
your seats from a real mess!
5) To help prevent vomiting, don't feed your puppy for at least a few
hours prior to taking any lengthy trips. Signs of impending nausea include
sudden restlessness and heavy drooling.
If your puppy does vomit in the car, do not reprimand him! This would only
serve to stress him more, making vomiting all the more likely next time around.
Besides, vomiting is involuntary; it's something your puppy has no control
6) If your puppy is not crate trained, there are now doggie car seats
available, as well special safety harnesses which attach to your car's seat
7) If you cannot crate, harness or safety seat your puppy, be sure to
either keep the back windows closed (temperature permitting) or open only few
inches, while the car is moving. This will help prevent your puppy from being
able to jump out of the car, or from hanging his head out of the car windows
(which can result in eye or neck injuries).
8) Gradually increase the distance of your rides over the next few
weeks. The entire process and duration of time needed to properly acclimate a
puppy to riding in a car varies according to each individual. Some puppies
enjoy going for car rides almost immediately, while others may take a few weeks
of being introduced to riding in a car before they feel comfortable.
9) During warm weather travel, take care to prevent your puppy from
Making Long Trips More Comfortable For Your Dog
Once your puppy is acclimated to riding in your car, you may want to take a
nice long trip. Here are a few suggestions for a successful trip with your
1) Because frantic last-minute departures can be particularly stressful
on a puppy, organize your departures well in advance.
2) Bring your puppy' s food and water bowls, a large container of ice
water (with ice cubes), and enough of your puppy' s usual brand of dog food to
last the trip (because the brand your puppy eats may not be available where
your going, and sudden dietary changes may cause diarrhea).
3) Like with any small child, always make sure your puppy relieves
himself prior to taking him on any car ride.
4) Lengthy car trips can he very stressful for some puppies. To reduce
your puppy's stress, remain upbeat and cheerful throughout your trip together,
and offer your puppy some exercise, playtime, cool water and "bathroom" breaks
at rest stops. A general rule of thumb is to offer a puppy a 5-15 minute
bathroom break every I or 2 hours of each car trip.
5) If at any time your puppy appears to be getting carsick let him out
of the car for a few minutes. However, make sure to keep him leashed, as a
puppy is especially vulnerable should he become lost in an area unfamiliar to
6) Do not leave your puppy unattended in your car. In addition to the
risk of heatstroke during summer months (or freezing, during winter) a puppy or
dog risks the possibility of being stolen. Also, some puppies and adult dogs
can become very destructive when left alone in a car.
7) When traveling with your puppy, always be sure that he is wearing a
flat buckle collar with identification tags which include your address and two
telephone numbers. Additionally, license and rabies tags should also be
attached to your puppy's collar.
Training Your Puppy To Wait
If your puppy does a reliable "wait" or "stay" at street corners, at the
front door, or before being released to eat his food, he shouldn't have much
difficulty learning to wait before entering and exiting your car.
Begin by practicing having him do a brief on-leash sit-stay when opening the
car door. Once the door is open, pause three seconds then release your puppy
into the car by saying "Lucy...Hup!"
Before releasing him from the car, tell him to "Wait" or "Stay" (so that he
pauses prior to exiting), then release him by saying "OK!" . Praise him when he