Fear of cars in dogs: solutions

It can happen that a dog panics at the mere sight of a car or when a vehicle is heard. For others, the thought of going up there and taking a trip there triggers a sudden fear. In both cases, the situation can be problematic for the animal as well as for its owner, because it is not always possible to avoid contact with cars or mandatory trips in the company of doggies. The good news is that there are solutions to help ease this fear and bring it under control. Discover our solutions in this file.

My dog ​​is afraid of cars: why? How to help him?

It can happen that dogs are afraid of cars they pass on the street. If this may come as a surprise, it is not really irrational. Their size, shape, noise and the smells they give off can be overwhelming to an animal. Thus, a dog encountering a vehicle during its walk may tense up, freeze, get stuck, refuse to move forward, or even try to escape by pulling on the leash with all its might. Some will even bark in an attempt to make this “enemy” flee. Nevertheless, it is very possible to help an animal to no longer be afraid of vehicles.

Why is my dog ​​afraid of cars?

The fear that a dog can feel at the sight of cars can be explained by several reasons:

  • trauma (an accident involving a vehicle, etc.);
  • a change in his environment (moving to the city, etc.).

It is reassuring that a dog does not approach cars, as it limits the risk of an accident, but when the blockage is too great, the animal can become frightened, becoming paralyzed and unable to move.

How do you help your dog?

If your dog is afraid of cars when they are stationary, it is possible to help him overcome this fear in a very simple way, with short sessions that will allow him to get used to it little by little.

Of course, it seems important to us to specify that you should never force your dog or rush to learn. Progress at his pace, be patient and encourage him with positivity because you are his best support in this lesson. Also, don’t forget that your dog has to learn to overcome his fear, which takes a lot of courage. It may therefore need time, which is natural.

Do short sessions (10 to 15 minutes max) that you will repeat every day or every other day. Your pet needs to be alert, so avoid times when it is overtired or overly excited. Do not burn the stages, wait until each one is perfectly acquired before moving on to the next, otherwise you risk a sudden withdrawal, which will make you lose the fruit of your efforts.

In this case, here are the steps to follow.

  • Step 1: Place your pet at a distance from a car that is tolerable for him. Start a play session to relax him and offer him treats from time to time.
  • Step 2: gradually reduce the distance with the vehicle as you continue the gaming session.
  • Step 3: when you are close enough to the vehicle, touch it with your hand so that your dog understands that there is nothing to be afraid of. Keep playing with him in a natural way and let him circle the car and sniff it if he feels the need. If he seems scared about it, don’t try to reassure him so as not to comfort him in his worries. On the contrary, ignore his fears.
  • Step 4: You can then open the trunk of the car if your dog supports its proximity. Continue playing with him as if nothing happened.
  • Step 5: invite your dog to get into the car by offering him a treat prize. If he refuses, let it go this time, it’s because he’s not ready yet. If he succeeds, reward him and encourage him to stay there for a while by playing with a toy. If he wants to come down right away, let him.
  • Step 6: Once your dog is able to climb up and down the trunk without problems, you can move on to the second phase of the exercises.

After this, it is time to teach him not to be afraid of the moving car.

  • Step 1: start the engine and do not react to any fear your dog may have.
  • Step 2: If the pooch can tolerate the noise of the engine while in the car, take a very short walk of just a few meters.
  • Step 3: Increase the distances over time.
  • Step 4: Next, try outings with your dog on streets frequented by cars until he tolerates them without reluctance.

My dog ​​is scared when he is in the car: why? How to help him?

Your dog may not necessarily be afraid of the moving cars he encounters on his walks, but may be frightened by the mere thought of getting into a car and going for a drive. This fear is annoying for the dog as well as for the master, because every “obligatory” trip, such as a visit to the vet, can become a real trial for both parties.

Why is my dog ​​afraid to get into the car?

This fear of getting into a car can have many causes.

  • He may never have had to travel by car and be reluctant to face this news.
  • He may have associated the car with an unpleasant event, such as the visit to the vet.
  • He may have had a traumatic experience with a car, such as physical shock.
  • He may find it difficult to deal with the vehicle moving without him being able to control anything.
  • He suffers from motion sickness and perceives the slightest movement.
  • He can hardly stand being locked up.

Some dogs have a genuine fear of getting into a car, so they refuse to approach the vehicle. Others will agree to get in, but they can’t help but resent the fact that the car is moving, which can cause them to cry, moan, bark, throw up, drool profusely, pant, even urinate or defecate out of fear.

How do you help your dog?

If your dog is afraid of car journeys, you can introduce several solutions to help him calm his fears and gradually accept traveling by this form of transport.

If the dog does not support the car to the point that it is unable to approach it, you will need to disabuse it of this fear by starting by following the steps previously mentioned in the previous section regarding vehicle phobia . Only then can you follow our advice to help him gradually cope with car journeys.

We have already briefly discussed the solutions and the steps to follow to help the dog accept getting into the car and moving around in it. Here are a number of tips that will allow you to turn every trip into a positive moment, to facilitate all your trips in the company of dogs.

  • Acclimatization from an early age: accustom your puppy to car trips from an early age. Make him do it regularly, even for 5 minutes, to help him assimilate this type of transport into a normality. He is less likely to develop a fear of it as he grows up.
  • Change the reasons for trips: The car should not be reserved only for trips to the vet or for negative events, otherwise your dog will dread all trips. Do not hesitate to take it from time to time for pleasant and positive trips, such as for your walks, your discoveries of new places, your appointments for dog activities or meetings with its congeners. This way, your dog will not associate the vehicle with a restriction.
  • Avoid calming your dog: If your dog shows fear, do not calm him down. Just ignore him (don’t look at him, touch him or talk to him). If you reassure him, he will conclude that he is right to be afraid, which will reinforce his anxiety and his behavior. On the contrary, ignore him to show him that everything is good and that everything is normal.
  • No punishment: if the dog drools, pees, defecates or throws up in the car, don’t scold him, because he has nothing to do with it. Fear can push him there in spite of himself. He would not understand your anger and would experience it as an injustice.
  • No cleaning in his presence: if he has a “small accident” in the car (as mentioned above), do not clean in his presence. He could take it as a game and start over. Wait until he is away from the vehicle to act.
  • Don’t leave the dog alone: ​​Avoid increasing your little friend’s anxiety by leaving him alone in the car.
  • Think about the transport crate: it will be much more reassuring for your dog because being in a small space is reassuring and comforting, and it also cuts off the view of the road, which can be bothersome for the dog. Choose a model adapted to its size, but neither too big nor too small. He must be able to stand on it without touching the top, but also lie down and turn around without difficulty.
  • No food before: Do not feed your dog within an hour of a walk to avoid upset stomach. If he suffers from motion sickness, know that there are suitable tablets to help him. Talk to your vet.
  • Take a smooth ride: Of course, when your dog is on board, it’s not time to play daredevil! Drive smoothly and carefully without sharp turns or sudden braking. Soft behavior is much easier to bear for the animal, which cannot control anything.
  • Natural solutions: If necessary, help yourself with calming herbal therapy for dogs such as Bach flowers and pheromone diffusers, which will allow your dog to relax before the trip, and even during it if necessary!

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