The first thing to consider when your dog is refusing to jump into the car is whether your dog is reluctant to get into the car or travel in the car and therefore resisting getting in. Many young dogs experience motion sickness or car sickness. Signs of car sick dogs may include vomiting, drooling, panting, general anxiety, and restlessness. A dog that experiences car sickness even once may be reluctant to travel again.
Tips for car sick dogs
- Make sure your dog’s early car trips are short and to happy destinations, such as the park.
- Don’t make the first car trip to the vet for their first injection!
- Some dogs prefer to look out a window while others choose to lay low, such as on the floor - experiment around to see if your dog has a preference.
- Get a husky harness to restrain your dog. Harnesses made for Husky dogs tend to be very rugged and hardy restraints.
- Make certain your dog has good ventilation wherever he is seated.
- Don’t feed your dog a large meal just before travelling.
- Some medications and homoeopathic remedies can help to alleviate motion sickness and/or relax your dog for the road. Consult your vet for advice.
Desensitise your Dog to Car Travel
Perhaps your dog is fearful of the sound, smell or sensation of car travel. Take your time to slowly desensitise your dog to each of these steps with the help of some yummy treats.
1. Feed your dog next to the car.
2. Feed your dog next to the car with the engine running.
3. Feed your dog in the car, engine off.
4. Feed your dog in the car engine on.
5. Feed your dog in the car. Take a trip around the block.
6. Feed your dog a small amount while travelling around the block in the car.
7. Slowly extend the time your dog spends in the car.
Physical Reasons for Resisting Car Travel
If your dog appears to travel happily with no signs of motion sickness, perhaps he simply has trouble getting into the car. Contrary to what many people think large dogs are often poorly coordinated jumpers and may well be reluctant to jump into the confined space of a car.
Consider whether your dog could have sore hips or some other physical reason for the reluctance. If all seems well physically, take some time to teach your dog ‘in’ and ‘out’ with the car engine off and at a time when you’re not in a hurry to go anywhere. Use plenty of food treats and/or praise and keep the sessions frequent but short.
For some large or elderly dogs, a ramp is a good solution. Teach your dog to walk along the ramp laid flat on the ground and then slowly raise the elevation before moving it to the car. Again, reward your dog for moving into the confined space of the car and make sure you drive to a few places your dog will enjoy.
And, if you are going to attach your dog to the seat belt, practice putting the harness on and off well before you get to the car.