The Car and Car Journeys

I am often asked by many puppy owners why their pup doesn't like going in the car.

There can be many reasons for this... To understand a little about this issue, it helps to think about it from your pup's perspective...

Cars are big, scary loud things and from your pups point of view their first experiences of a car are being taken away from their mum and trips to the vets to get poked, prodded and injected. None of these is very nice first impressions and this is probably the most common reason pups don't like cars. There is a solution though and its quite simple – do some fun stuff using the car! Below are a few suggestions which will help your pup get comfortable with the car.

1 - Let your puppy explore the outside of the car in their own time. Let them walk around it, have a sniff and pee up the tyre, a scent marked car is a sign that they are becoming comfortable with it.

2 - Open the door/boot and let them jump in and explore. If your pup has a particular toy they enjoy playing with turn getting into the car into a bit of a game, throw a ball in and let them go get it.

3 - Let your pup help wash the car! Most pups love playing with water and rags/sponges, so while you are out cleaning the car let them play with you while you do it. Cleaning the car may take longer than usual but the aim here is to get your dog comfortable around the car by doing something fun, and not cleaning it! Just be sure to keep them away from any soap or detergents.

Once your pup is happy being in/around the car then it's time to go for a drive and do something fun. Don t drive for miles, keep the first few journeys short and sweet (10/15 mins each way tops) The ideal first place to take your pup would be our dog parks as being enclosed means they can be off lead running around having fun and burning off some energy. Wherever you take them make sure that when you get back to the car they are tired. This is an important step. A tired puppy will just want to rest or sleep on the way home in the car and think about what just happened. They will begin to associate the car journey with the fun activity and overtime will join the dots and see the car as a good place to be because it takes them somewhere fun!

But what if the car journey doesn't take them somewhere fun, like to the vets or groomers?

In this case, it's your job as a puppy owner to make these places fun. Many vets and groomers will allow you and your pup to visit before their appointment. I had a dog who was particularly anxious at the vets and after a few preliminary visits, treats and the odd game of tug while we were there (with no vets visit) she was fine. When we did need the vet to examine her she already knew where she was and that it can be a fun place with nice people and the visit went smoothly. It may seem stupid but it really does work - and many vets/receptionists secretly enjoy it when you do this too!

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