Subtitle: Uncovering the Reasons Behind Your Dog’s Reluctance to Get in the Car
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If you have become fond of taking your dog with you in the car everywhere you go, and enjoying the company of your travel or trip partner, it might come as a shock when your pet suddenly refuses to get into the car the next time you’re ready to head out.
You might notice that your dog suddenly freezes at the sight of the car, refuses to get in, whines, barks, or even vomits in the car, and you might be wondering what could cause the sudden hatred for the car.
There are several possible reasons why your dog wouldn’t want to go into the car, and for each of the reasons, there’s a likely solution. This post will take you through what you can do when your dog refuses to get into the car.
II. Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Get in the Car Anymore
Off the top of your head, it might be hard to find a reason stopping your dog from getting into the car, but when you pay attention, there are quite a lot of reasons, ranging from negative associations with car rides to physical discomfort, fear, or anxiety.
A. Negative Associations with Car Rides
One of the most common reasons your dog might be running away from the car might be because it started getting car sickness. This means your pet might be getting nauseated during car rides and thus become fearful of getting in cars.
Another negative association could be repeated visits to the vet or other unpleasant destinations. If the only place you take your dog to is the vet, it will associate your car with the vet in no time, and won’t want to get in.
On a more serious level, past traumatic experiences related to cars might occur. If your dog lived in a shelter, he might have associated car rides with the cycle of abandonment and adoption and might get stuck in those cycles mentally.
A car accident can also create a long-lasting fear of cars in your pet, and any incident that reminds it of the accident can trigger a negative reaction.
B. Physical Discomfort or Limitations
If the first set of reasons doesn’t check out for your pet, then you should consider physical discomfort or limitations. Have you thought about the fact that your pet might be refusing to get in the car because it feels pain or physical discomfort?
Ailments like arthritis, urinary tract infection, spinal problems, as well as some cancers can cause your dog to stay away from cars. Some dogs also have issues jumping into cars post-surgery.
If you have an older dog showing reluctance to enter the car, it might be connected to a physical condition that has affected his mobility. You would need to check with a vet to be sure.
C. Fear or Anxiety
Some dogs might have anxiety where a car is concerned, and this anxiety could come from several issues, including abandonment, as well as visiting places that have been traumatic in the past. Sometimes, you might not even be able to understand the reason.
If your dog has fallen several times in the car due to sudden movements, has heard weird noises, or is very sensitive to stimuli, then it can get anxious about being in a car.
If your pet thinks you are going somewhere new, and they aren’t prepared to meet new people or do something outside the ordinary, they could also get anxious.
Some signs of an anxious dog include lip licking, excessive drooling, panting, whining or barking, trembling, and a refusal to move.
III. Tips for Encouraging Your Dog to Get in the Car
Now that you can better understand why your dog might feel reluctant about getting in the car, you need to encourage it to feel comfortable going into the car, and you can do this by creating a positive association with the car, addressing physical limitations, or consult a vet for treatment.
A. Create Positive Associations with The Car
The first thing to do is use desensitization to help your dog get used to the car so that your pet has no problem feeling comfortable in it. You can achieve this by slowly introducing the dog to the car; first by spending time near the car, then going in the car to relax or have a when it’s not moving, and then progress to taking very short rides.
After every successful stage, praise your dog and give it treats so that it understands that you are pleased. Continue until your dog is comfortable taking the long drive. If your pet reacts fearfully at any stage, you’ll need to stop and take it slow.
Reward-based training is closely connected to this step, and it entails spending time playing, eating, or engaging in positive activities in the car so that your dog begins to see it as a place connected to positive memories and activities. You can even reward your dog for going on a ride by taking it to a dog park or other fun locations.
B. Address Physical Discomfort or Limitations
If your dog is facing physical discomfort or limitations, you need to help it overcome the limitations and become more comfortable. This might mean getting a safety harness, setting up a crate, and placing towels over the kennel to reduce stimulation in the vehicle. You can also make your pet more comfortable by adding a comfort item or toy to its crate.
If your pet can’t get into the car due to physical limitations, use ramps or other forms of assistance to get it in and out of the car. Ensure that the ramp can handle the dog’s weight and is portable enough to go into your car.
If you have done all these and your dog is still uncomfortable, or perhaps ill health and pain are responsible for its inability to get in the car, you should consult a veterinarian for pain management or treatment options so that your pet can be fine in no time.
C. Reduce Fear and Anxiety
If your dog has shown signs of fear and anxiety, then you would need to ensure that it gets over them with your help and that of a professional.
The first step is to create a calm and predictable environment in the car, such as maintaining its sitting position, playing a calming song, and acting the same way every time.
You can leverage calming aids such as anxiety vests or pheromones that release calming scents to calm your dog.
There are several Over-the-Counter Products that can reduce nausea caused by motion sickness and anxiety, but it is always best to get prescription medication from your vet as it is safer and healthier for your dog.
As a final step, you should consider getting a behaviorist or professional dog trainer to check your dog if it still refuses to get into the car after you have explored all these options as there might be a deeper issue you have failed to uncover, which a medical professional might notice.
This post has considered the possible reasons your dog is refusing to go into the car, such as pain or ill health, anxiety, or previous experiences. You’re also better informed about how to handle such situations, including seeking professional help, creating a positive association with the car, and reducing anxiety and fear.
These steps aren’t the easiest and might take a lot of time, but it is important to be patient with your dog and remain consistent in the process until you see results.
Always seek to understand your dog’s perspective so that you can find a solution, and don’t forget to seek professional help if you need to.