Sometimes it happens that the dog is so afraid to ride in a car that any trip turns into a nightmare. What to do in this case?
The technique of desensitization and counterconditioning will come to our aid. These words may sound scary, but don’t be scared. This is an effective way to calm your dog and change his attitude towards the car.
You will need a car, a dog, and your pet’s favorite treat. And some more time and patience.
What to do if the dog is afraid of cars: a step-by-step diagram
First of all, you need to find out at what point the dog realizes that the car is nearby (or he is already in the car), but at the same time remains calm. Three meters from the car? Per metre? When do you open the door? When she’s already in the car, but you haven’t started the engine yet? In general, determine the critical point. And start working BEFORE it.
For example, a dog begins to show discomfort (but does not yet panic) 3 meters from the car. So, we approach so that there is 3,5 meters to the car, we treat the dog with our favorite treat and turn back. We do this several times and try to reduce the distance. Does the dog stay calm? Great, let’s move on. Is your dog showing signs of anxiety? So this is the critical distance. We need to stop a little earlier, treat the dog and turn back.
It is extremely important to note exactly the very first, very weak signs of discomfort! Also give out treats on time. And do not allow expressed fear or panic. Otherwise, the effect will be just the opposite. And instead of improving your relationship with the car, you will develop an aversion to your favorite food, which is unlikely to be useful.
Next, break the task into small steps and work through each of them sequentially. For example, approach the car two steps, one step, open and close the door, ask the dog to jump in the car and immediately jump out, jump in and sit for a couple of seconds while you give treats, sit longer, get in yourself, start and immediately turn off the engine , start the engine, but do not move, drive a couple of meters and stop, and so on and so forth.
If you do everything right, you can rid your dog of the fear of cars. But if you are not confident in your abilities, you should seek help from a specialist working on positive reinforcement (in person or online).