Dear Daisy Dog
Marcus, my seven-month-old, 90-pound German shepherd, refuses to get into the car. I can no longer lift him, and I can’t even lure him with treats. Please help!
I love riding in the car, though my brother Jack was just like Marcus when he joined our family as a young adult. Jack even got car sick.
With a bit of training, Jack learned to enjoy riding in the car so much that now he often sits in the car hoping Mom will take him for a drive.
Here’s a step-by-step approach to teaching Marcus what Jack knows: that riding in the car is fun.
Start by feeding Marcus both meals and all treats in the car, with the engine off.
Lead him to the car on a leash. If he won’t get in, put the food bowl on the ground next to the car. When he’s comfortable eating there, place the bowl on the car floor or seat.
Once Marcus is at ease in the car, you’re ready for the next steps. Take them when Marcus has an empty stomach, so he doesn’t get car sick.
Put Marcus in the car and start the engine. If you’re in the garage, back out and idle in the driveway for a few minutes.
Then return to the garage and turn off the car. Praise Marcus while he’s in the car, not when he gets out.
Repeat this step on subsequent days as many times as necessary until Marcus isn’t anxious or drooling.
The next step is to drive around the block once and return home. Be sure Marcus can see out and that he has fresh air. Repeat as often as necessary on separate days until Marcus is relaxed.
Next, drive five minutes to somewhere fun, like the park or a friend’s house, so Marcus associates the car with pleasurable excursions.
Repeat the five-minute fun trips until Marcus is like Jack, eager to jump into the car. As you gradually increase the length of the trips, remember to make most of them to enjoyable destinations.