How To Get My Puppy Used To The Car

Unless they live far out in the country, most puppy parents use their car or truck every day to get around. Depending on your situation, and your puppy, that includes getting around with them in your car or another vehicle.

We take cars for granted, of course, but to your puppy, it’s a new and often scary place (at least for the first few rides). After that, many dogs get used to being in the car. Unfortunately, though, some don’t.

The fact is, some puppies will freak out if you need to take them anywhere in your car, especially if it means being put into a crate, seat belt, or another protective device. This aversion to riding in cars can be problematic and stressful (to say the least).

I’m lucky in that most of the dogs I’ve had thoroughly enjoyed riding in the car. On my way to my local big-box pet store the other day, as I watched my pup joyfully hang their head out the window and let their tongue fly, I thought about today’s question, how to get my puppy used to the car?

The answer is that extra training, patience, and time are needed to help any puppy get used to the car. As I mentioned earlier, some pups will take to riding in a car quickly, but others won’t.

For those that won’t, there are several different methods you can use to ease their fear and anxiety and make car rides more enjoyable. 

I’ve got those methods for you below and answers to several other questions about how to get your puppy used to the car. Read on to find out how to make car rides with your pup a pleasurable experience for everyone!

What Do you Do When your Puppy Doesn’t Like the Car?

Adopting a puppy that doesn’t like riding in the car is a situation that needs to be solved, especially if going places in the car with your puppy will be a common occurrence.

The good news is that, as a puppy, it’s easier to train their fear out of them. It takes time, patience, and effort, but the same can be said for every other task that involves your pup.

One method is to make car rides as fun as possible for your pupper. For example, give your puppy plenty of praise and possibly a new toy to keep them occupied during the ride. 

If they don’t get car sick, you can also give your puppy treats if they behave well in the car. Even better, take them places they will enjoy so that they connect riding in the car with that enjoyment and fun. 

A walk in the park, for example, or to your local forest, the beach, etc. If your puppy has had all of its vaccinations, taking them to your local dog park in the car is also a great way to get them accustomed to riding with you.

How Do you Stop a Puppy from Crying in the Car?

If your puppy always cries and whines when you take them in the car, it can become annoying and, in some cases, dangerous. A whining or crying dog distracts you as you drive and makes teaching them to ride quietly essential. 

One of the best ways to stop a puppy from crying in the car is to travel with them in their crate from home. For most puppies, their crate is a “safe space” that gives them peace of mind and keeps them calm. 

Below is another method to stop your puppy from crying while riding in the car. Plus step-by-step instructions to do it. 

The Anxiety Reduction Method of Stopping your Puppy from Crying in the Car

Step 1- Exercise

An excellent method of stopping your puppy from crying and whining on car rides is to give them plenty of exercise before going in the car. If you do, they will be tired and want to relax and take a nap.  A napping puppy wines much less than one full of energy and anxiety.

Step 2- Change Destinations to Create Positive Association

As I mentioned earlier, it helps take your puppy to different locations, including many that they enjoy. If you only bring your dog to the veterinarian or groomer in your car, they will associate car rides with negative experiences they don’t enjoy.

Step 3- Change Situations Constantly

A puppy that knows only the inside of your home and your car can easily form anxiety towards riding in the car and will whine a lot more when they do. For that reason, exposing your puppy to many different situations is best. Take them out for a walk around town, for example, so they hear car horns honking, people walking by, other dogs barking, etc.

Step 4- Use Things your Puppy Enjoys

I mentioned earlier that taking your puppy on rides using their crate is a good idea because their crate is a place where, in most cases, they feel safe. You can say the same for your puppy’s favorite toy, pillow, or other objects like a blanket. If it makes them feel comfortable, safe, and happy at home, use it in the car to do the same.

Step 5- Create Positive Association with Car Rides

Taking your puppy to different (and enjoyable) locations, as mentioned in Step 2, is a great way to create a positive association with car rides. So is giving them a new toy or their favorite treat when you take your pup for a car ride. Giving your puppy more playtime before and after riding in the car is also a great method to associate car rides with good times.

How Do I get my Dog to be Afraid of Passing Cars?

Today’s subject, as we know, is how to get your puppy used to your car and going for car rides. However, it’s also vitally important that you teach your puppy to avoid cars driving by on the street.

Unfortunately, thousands of puppies are killed every year when they run out into the street because they don’t know how dangerous and deadly cars and other vehicles can be.

While you don’t want your puppy to be afraid of passing cars, per se, it’s imperative they realize just how dangerous they are so that they never run out into traffic. Below are 4 excellent methods to teach your puppy about the danger of cars and running into the road.

  1. Show them what to do around traffic. This method is super easy. Simply take your puppy to an area of your town or city where there’s a lot of traffic. Then, with your puppy on a leash, walk around with them, go through crosswalks, stop at stoplights, etc. Train them to stop, sit and stay as you go.
  2. Train your puppy to sit and wait before crossing any road. Think of it like teaching a child to look both ways before crossing the street. It might take some time and patience, but the reward will be a puppy that lives a lot longer.
  3. Teach your puppy the “down” command. When learned well, this command will immediately allow you to stop your puppy from moving even if they aren’t right next to you. That, in turn, can keep them from running out on the road if traffic is rolling by. 
  4. Ask a friend to ride their bicycle on the road and lightly bump into your puppy. I have seen and personally used this method with my own puppies, and it works like a charm. A little bump from a bicycle usually scares them enough to keep them from running out in the street. If it doesn’t, do it again (gently, of course). 

Final Thoughts

Today we’ve seen several methods that answer the question, “how to get my puppy used to the car?” Most of them involve using objects that make your puppy feel safer and positive association tactics. 

Like any dog training, training your puppy to get used to riding in the car with you takes time, patience, and persistence. The benefit is that you’ll have a dog that loves riding in the car with you or, at the very least, doesn’t freak out every time you need to take them somewhere.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog, and it answered your question about how to get your puppy used to the car. If you have more questions or would like to learn more about being a pet parent, my other puppy blogs are full of excellent advice, tips, and information. Until next time, best of luck training your puppy to enjoy car rides!