How can I calm my excited dog during car rides?Q:
I have an 11-month-old, male, neutered Labrador retriever named Pete that I adopted from a shelter when he was 4 1/2 months old. Pete is fairly high strung. He is well-socialized and goes out every day for hikes or the dog park for at least 45 minutes to an hour twice a day. His only major issue is that he gets so excited for our “outings” that he whines and cries in the car. He is too wild to be loose in the car, so he rides in his crate in the back. How can I calm him down in the car? I've tried taking him on many “rides to nowhere”, given him toys in crate, etc. What can I do?A:
Riding in the crate is a good decision and the safest and best method of transport for an excited dog. I would start over by reconditioning your dog to riding in the car. Get him used to the car without actually going anywhere. Get in the car with him when the car is parked in the driveway or on the street. Reward him with a treat and praise him for being quiet. You want to emphasize the term “good quiet” when rewarding him with the treat. Repeat this a few times without starting the car or driving anywhere. After doing this a few times, try a short car ride and try walking your dog home. You want to keep using the term “good quiet” and continue using the treats as rewards. Gradually increase the length of the rides and continue to use treats and praise along with “good quiet”. The key to success is consistency and patience. Pete is a young, energetic dog that requires a lot of exercise. You may have to increase his exercise before going for the car rides, and just remember that eventually he will calm down as he leaves puppyhood.
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