Excessive barking while riding in a car is a fairly common (and aggravating) behavior in dogs, and while it may have a few different causes, most dogs vocalize out of fear. After all, there are so many new and scary sights and sounds for your pup to behold as you drive down the road! Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to reduce your pet’s fear and improve your road trips.
- Make Sure the Dog is Safely Restrained
A dog that is free to roam in the car can interfere with the owner’s ability to drive safely, posing a risk to themselves as well as other drivers. In the unfortunate event that a car accident does occur, a loose dog could suffer serious injuries. Worse yet, the dog may flee from the accident and run right into oncoming traffic. And of course, a dog that is loose inside a vehicle can become easily agitated by looking out the window of a moving car, which can result in excessive barking.
Most pet owners recommend using a well-secured “soft” crate when transporting dogs. This is a safe and comfortable option that keeps dogs from becoming too fearful of what’s happening outside the car window. Give them a Kong or rawhide treat while they’re in the crate and your dog should be happily occupied for the duration of the car ride.
- Practice Makes Perfect
Fido should sit or lie down in the car, so practice that behavior outside of the vehicle. If your pup already has the down command mastered outside of the car, practice in the driveway with the car off. Once that has been mastered, practice with the car parked and running in the driveway and gradually work up to short car rides. Of course, you won’t be able to reinforce their quiet behavior with treats while you’re driving, so replace the reward with praise or a favorite toy.
- Don’t Reward Bad Behavior
Do you shout “No!” or yell “Quiet!” when your dog barks in the car? If so, you may be reinforcing their bad behavior by giving them the attention they want. Letting the dog out of the car while they’re still barking is another way you could be rewarding them for excessive vocalization. Never let your dog out of the car if they are barking. This will require lots of patience, but it will save you major headaches in the future.
Bear in mind, some breeds are barkers. Per Joyce O’Connell, a certified trainer at Tails u Win, says some breeds can be challenging. For instance, Australian Shepherds will make a game out of barking at other dogs. She says it is important to recognize this and work on it during walks. If you are dealing with a difficult or dangerous barking situation, we recommend contacting an Animal Behaviorist such as Joyce.