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The fear of cars in dogs: help them overcome it

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Posted on November 19 2018

Some dogs panic as cars pass, while others can not stand up. These two cases are problematic, but they are not fatalities. It can be remedied with work and patience.

You can not blame a dog who is afraid of cars . These machines are not natural. Their silhouette, their sound and their smells are nothing like what they are supposed to know. The fact that they feel uncomfortable in the presence of vehicles is therefore perfectly understandable , but it is quite possible to help them to accept them . Now we have to differentiate between the fear of seeing or passing cars and the fear of traveling inside cars . In either case, constant support and a good understanding of their psychology can help these dogs overcome their fears.

Understanding the fear of cars

Some dogs are panicking as soon as they see cars passing during the walk. They clench , lie down, refuse to move forward or pull on their leash in the opposite direction. The roar of the engine and the rapid passage intimidate these doggies, while the smell of the exhaust does not come to fix the situation, on the contrary.

This fear of cars can have different origins: a trauma (accident) of course, but also a change of lifestyle (the dog lived in a quiet place and the family moved to town) ... We can think that this fear is salutary because it prevents the dog from risking his life by approaching the vehicles, but it becomes problematic when it creates a real blockage and makes crossing any road difficult, even impossible, when one walks it.

Help his dog overcome it

Some dogs may even be afraid of stopped cars . In this case, we can help them overcome their fears by confronting them in small doses.

It is advisable, for example, to place the dog in front of a car parked at a distance large enough so that it remains calm, then to slowly approach the vehicle. You can then put your hand on it to show the animal that there is no risk, then give him time to walk, to get acquainted with the vehicle through sniffles, etc. When he does so without pulling on the leash, it is systematically rewarded by giving it a treat . Over time, he will understand that he has no reason to be afraid of stopped cars.

For those in motion, it is both a different pair of sleeves and a similar approach. Here too, it is a question of confronting the animal with what frightens it in a progressive way.

The first step is to get used to the sound of the engine . The ideal would be to start in his garden (or that of a friend) if he can accommodate the car, to be able to let the engine run (do not start it in his presence, the first time) before approaching very slowly with the dog on a leash.

He is first allowed time to observe the vehicle at a safe distance while seated. As soon as he calms down, he is given a treat and congratulates him, then gradually reduces the distance over the sessions. If the fear of the dog fades, we can move on to the next step of repeating the exercise outdoors, in a busy street for example. It is still to reassure , but not excessively so as not to make him believe he is right to be afraid. With each progress made, the dog must be systematically rewarded and congratulated.

Fear in the car

Another canine fear linked to cars is also often encountered; it is that of boarding these. It is mainly found in animals that have not been used to it from an early age . One is not interested here in sickness (or motion sickness), which is in large part physiological, but because the associated mental block of being inside the vehicle, whether stationary or in motion.

These dogs find it difficult to keep quiet on board, disturbed by the feeling of being locked up, the scrolling of the elements during the journey, the speed, the successive stops and restarts, etc.

It is important, to help your dog to overcome this fear, to associate the car trip to something pleasant and therefore to a destination that is: park, beach, forest, countryside ... But before that, it takes first the dog agrees to ride . A step that requires at least several days. To encourage him, one can throw his favorite toy inside the vehicle. It is recommended to open all the doors to allow him to go up and down as he wishes, avoiding him to feel prisoner. Then we go on board and we encourage him to do it in turn to play together indoors and offer him treats.

The following sessions, we gradually start to get used to standing in the car with the engine running. Thereafter, it will be a small trip (ask a loved one to drive to stay close to the dog, reassure him and prevent him from making a possible sudden maneuver under the effect of panic), the turn for example, before extending trips.

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