How to Get Your Dog Used to Your Car

05th Jul 2024

Written in partnership with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Getting your dog used to the car

It is common to take your dog in the car, whether it is to the vets, on holiday with you, or to find some different walks. Whatever the reason, you want to ensure that you help your dog create a positive association with the car.

Tips from the experts

We are proud to partner with Battersea, and together provide expert advice to help you get your dog used to your car.

Tip One: Create a comfortable and familiar environment

Put a familiar dog bed or dog’s blankets inside the car so that they have a soft, comfy space that they recognise.

Tip Two: Get your dog used to the car when it is turned off

Battersea member with a black labrador in the back of a car

If your dog is nervous around the car itself, find some time when you do not need to take them anywhere and get them used to being around the vehicle. With the engine off and all the doors shut, walk your dog around the outside of the car at a distance they are comfortable with, and do not forget to then reward them with a treat.

Tip Three: Introduce your dog to the inside of the car

Before you take your dog out to the car, open the car door so that they can investigate it, and do not forget to treat them or praise them when they do.

When your dog feels relaxed around the open door, start to move treats inside the car so that they can explore the inside of the car. Once your dog is happy to hop in and out of the car, try shutting the door while your dog’s inside the car - calmly close the car door and then open it again after a few seconds, so they have the option to get out.

Give them a treat after each attempt, and once you are happy that they are comfortable with the door closed completely, move on to the next step.

Tip Four: Get your dog used to the sound of the engine

Once they are confident being in the car with the door shut, you can introduce the engine noise. With your dog inside the car, turn the engine on and keep it running for a few seconds. Turn it off, and let your dog out of the car, and do not forget to treat them.

Tip Five: Get your dog used to the moving car

Battersea member walking a dog to a CarStore branded car

Once your dog is familiar with the sound of the engine and is not stressed by it, you can begin to go for short drives. Keep the drives very short initially, and make sure that it is a slow and smooth journey.

Tip Six: Keep the drives very short initially

As you increase the length of the journeys, as much as possible, make sure your first real trips are to take your dog to places for nice walks and fun activities nearby so that they build positive association with getting inside the car.

More advice from the experts

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ease your dog's anxiety when it comes to travelling in the car, and with the expert Battersea advice above, you can help them feel as relaxed as possible on their trip. For more useful guidance, please visit our lifestyle section.