A lot of dogs get overly excited when they know they are going for a ride in the car and when inside, they find it hard to settle down. They have a tendency to bark at the slightest thing they see which can not only be very distracting, but dangerous for drivers and passers-by too.
Very often as soon as an owner leaves the vehicle once it's parked up, their dogs start barking incessantly with some of our canine friends lunging at everyone who walks by the car giving passers-by quite a scare when they do. Barking in the car is an extremely annoying habit and one that leaves owners at their wits end not knowing what to do to teach their dogs to relax and be calm when they are in the car.
One of the best ways to get a dog to relax in the car is to crate train them. When a dog gets used to being in a crate, they find it relaxing, they feel comfortable and safe which in turn means you'll have a much more relaxed dog travelling with you. All dogs should be taught that going in a crate is not a punishment but rather a place they can retreat to when they feel like it. Should a dog need to go to the vet and be kept in overnight, being put in a crate would not be something that stresses them out if they are used to going in one which is another very good reason for crate training your dog.
Fitting a dog crate in the back of the car provides a "safe" place in the car for your dog in more than one way because it prevents them from jumping all over the place and because they like being in their crate, a dog is eager to go in it. It's where they go when they want to lie down, relax and take a nap during the day or even at night. The crate becomes your dog's safe haven whether it's in the home or in the car with the only difference being the door will be firmly shut when they are travelling unlike when they are at home when the door can often be left open.
Once you have loaded your dog into their crate, it's important to offer them a good quality dog chew which they can gnaw on to their heart's content. It will keep them occupied during the journey and once you've parked up the car. There are many great dog chews on the market with Kong making some extra special ones that have goodies hidden in them which dogs adore finding. You'll soon discover what kind of treat your dog likes best and it's definitely worth investing in a few so that you have them to hand for when you travel with your dog in the car.
If your dog is not crate trained or panics whenever they are put in one, the other option is to fit good quality sunshades to the windows of your car. It prevents them from seeing out of side windows, but not the front and back. It should however, stop them from lunging at people walking past your car and frightening them to death.
Although all of the above can help reduce the risk of your dog barking like a maniac when they are in the car, the best method of stopping this unwanted behaviour is to train your dog to relax when they are in a vehicle. To do this you will need lots of high quality treats your dog cannot resist. Then it's a matter of taking your dog out in the car and parking up in different places where people are going to be passing by close to the vehicle.
Every time your dog goes to bark at someone, you have to throw a treat their way which will distract them. The treat should be more tempting than the idea of barking at a passerby, although some dogs get so beside themselves that even a treat does not deter them. You have to find the right place to park your car to begin with and it has to be somewhere your dog feels relaxed and comfortable enough to eat a treat rather than somewhere you know your dog will just get worked up.
Nothing will happen overnight, which means you have to be prepared to take your dog on lots of short car trips to begin with. Eventually, you can take them to somewhere that's really busy to see how they react to people when they get too close to your car and if your dog still insists on barking or whether they are more interested in the meaty treats you are holding in your hand will establish if your training strategies are working or not. If things are working, pretty soon, you will notice a change in your dog's attitude when they are in the car whether you're in it or they are on their own.
The key to successfully using this training method to stop your dog from barking at everyone who passes too close to your car, is all in the timing. A passerby has to be in your dog's line of sight before you throw a treat their way like this your dog will understand that seeing a person close to their car means a tasty treat. If you give the treat too early or too late, your dog will not associate a yummy reward for not barking at a person.
It's also important to train your dog to lie down when they are in the car and ideally if they are not happy to be in a crate, you should invest in a safety belt for them which not only keeps them nice and safe in the event of an accident, but it prevents them from roaming around the car too much as well.
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