Our Mookie is only a little bit more than two years old but we went on several road trips with her. She has now grown into a dog who happily and hastily jumps into our car.
Although we try not to rush and pack all staff at once, she monitors us closely and is unmistaken when we are about to go somewhere. After leaving the house, she hurries up her toilette routine and stays close to the car to board as soon as we open the door!
So, how did we teach her to like the idea of driving in the car?
- Start small - When she was a puppy, we took her with us on short drives, just for 10-15 minutes. That experience has to be the best ever, i.e. make sure you carry a lot of favourite treats or food and give your pup a treat just for being calm in the car.
- Organize - The trip itself has to be fun and fruitful, so it is up to you to plan it in advance and spare some time to teach your pup to be relaxed while in the car. Avoid doing your weekly groceries shopping while teaching your pup to relax in the car.
- Fun - First couple of times we didn’t strap Mookie but let her explore the backseat of the car and awarded her calm behavior. It took her few months to stop roaming and start resting or watching through the window.
- Safety - Roaming in the backseat and sudden jumps can be really dangerous, for all passengers. Once Mookie got used to the idea of sitting in the car we’ve put her on leash. Crates or transporters are mandatory while driving in most European countries, so with a leash on, she can sit behind me or rest in her crate. The leash also allows her to stand little bit between our front seats for a cuddle.
- Nerves - Our Mookie pretty soon got used to be driven in the car, but her first year went into her whining and anxiety build up. She realised car drives were fun so she was anxious to see what was coming up and what fun we had prepared for her. Following the advice of our trainer, we started awarding her for staying calm and silent. At first it was only for 10-20 seconds before she would start whining again :)
- Enjoy - If it gets tough, quickly remember why you want your pup to remain calm in the car. Just try again by organizing small fun trips and gradually prolong the time you both spend in the car. As soon as your pup realises that car is fun and full of treats, everything will be a lot easier.