My dog ​​is afraid of cars: how to solve the problem

Like us, dogs are sometimes susceptible to phobias. Are you afraid of traffic and car noise? He panicked when he saw your own car and you don’t know what to do? Fear is a powerful and uncontrollable emotion, but with patience and kindness you can overcome this problem. In this article, we explain to you how to make your dog no longer afraid of cars.

How to recognize a scared dog?

Fear is normal, it is a feeling linked to the instinct to survive. It is used to distance the individual from the thing that worries him, and thus preserves him from possible danger, thereby saving the species. If your dog is afraid of cars, you may observe these reactions when he faces them:

  • he bowed down and flattened himself on the ground;
  • he trembled;
  • his heart beats;
  • he was panting;
  • he folded his ears;
  • it puts its tail between its legs;
  • he avoids looking at what frightens him;
  • he moves away or tries to move away from what scares him.

The most sensitive puppies and dogs will urinate on them or even poop out of sheer terror.

What do you do if your dog is afraid of cars?

The owner or mistress of a fearful dog should maintain a relaxed demeanor and remain calm and peaceful. If his person is not afraid, the dog will notice this and understand that he should not be afraid either. A master protects his dog, he shows empathy and understands the reasons for his fear but does not share this emotion with him. Although it is tempting to take your dog in your arms and hug him to comfort him, you must not fall into anthropomorphism: the dog is not a child and he is not reassuring in the same way. In fact, if you caress her she will believe that you are congratulating her! Too much cuddling in a stressful situation can reinforce fearful behavior. The best solution to support your companion is to adopt a confident attitude while ensuring his physical safety. If he is afraid of cars, he may have a panic attack in the town and he will try to escape to avoid it. A good harness and a strong leash will prevent accidents.

What not to do if your dog is scared

Don’t punish your dog if he is afraid of cars, it doesn’t make sense. He will only connect the new anger to the cars that already scare him. The dog is empathetic and feels all your emotions, so don’t get angry, at the risk of increasing his stress. Forcing him to get into your car or to walk around the city center is pointless because violence reinforces fear. Only patience and kindness can overcome it.

How to get your dog used to cars?

Get your puppy used to the urban environment

The so-called impregnation period of a puppy lasts from three to twelve weeks. Ideally, he will live in different experiences and be placed in front of creatures of different species than his own during these eight weeks, so that he can get used to everything he will encounter in his life. So your loulou should be faced from an early age with traffic and cars to get used to it and not be afraid of them later. Short walks in the city, trips by public transport, stopping at a cafe terrace on a busy street: everything is good for introducing your puppy to the urban environment.

Get your adult dog used to traffic

Your adult dog may be afraid of cars for several reasons:

  • the impregnation referred to above was not done or was done incorrectly;
  • he experienced trauma related to a road accident;
  • you live in the countryside or in an area where there is no traffic;
  • you have your dog during or before being confined, so he is not exposed to cars;
  • you adopt a dog from a shelter and don’t know his past;
  • your dog suffers from sensory deprivation syndrome;
  • and so on

The older your dog is, the harder it is to get used to traffic, but nothing is impossible! You have to go through stages. Start taking short walks on deserted streets to desensitize him to stationary cars. When you feel your dog is relaxed, move to quieter areas. The more confident your partner is, the better you can choose places for walks with more traffic. Work sessions should be short and learning progressive; Above all, don’t rush. Your dog’s fear may re-trigger an episode where it has not been expressed for a long time; in this case go back to the previous step and end the exercise on a positive note. These three tips will help you:

  • take your dog’s favorite toy and play with it during your immersion in the streets, it will make the time fun;
  • pay attention to him if he does not react to cars;
  • accompanied by a friend whose dog is completely comfortable with cars, yours will be assured by imitation.

Desensitize your dog to car noise

If your partner is afraid of car noise, here’s an exercise to do at home. It’s easy to find recordings of urban background sounds on the internet: acceleration, honking, screeching tires, etc. Listen with your dog to these low frequency noises for a few minutes a day. Once you find him comfortable, you can gradually increase the volume. Continue in stages over several days or weeks until he no longer reacts at the suggested frequency, and lower the level if he shows signs of discomfort. Of course, it will take time before he is ready to face the truth, but the game is worth the effort.

How to make your dog appreciate your own car?

Close to the car

The goal of this desensitization exercise is to make your car look normal to your dog. Depending on the intensity of his fear, go there slowly, first by approaching your car, passing in front without stopping, then for example walking around and finally resting next to it. If you’re lucky enough to have a yard or garden, park your car there, open it if possible, and let your dog run free. The very presence of the car should no longer be a concern to proceed to the next stage.

Get in the car

Your car should be attractive and appealing to your dog. Put his plaid, toys, a bone to eat it; change this thing of fear into a pleasant place that will encourage him. Work sessions are educational games with a reward if your loulou responds well to commands such as “up” and “down”. Again, it is possible to get help from another dog that is comfortable in the car, imitation is a common way for canines to learn.

Getting into your car is no longer an obstacle? Try to start it without moving it, and observe it. Repeat the operation as many times as necessary so that the sound of starting the motor no longer scares your dog. If you easily skip this step, briefly press the simple up-down commands (always rewarded) with the engine off.

Go in a car

Counter-conditioning consists of associating an unpleasant object (here the scary car) with a positive emotion. To do this, initially use your car for short trips that will take you to a very nice place for your dog. It should be equal to the happiness of your dog’s head. Once it is obtained, you can vary the routes and destinations.

Mistakes not to make so that your dog does not (again) start to fear the car.

Here are some mistakes not to make if you don’t want your dog to lose his taste for cars:

  • take your dog only for long journeys;
  • take his car just to go to the vet;
  • taking his dog to someone he doesn’t want;
  • rapid, sudden braking;
  • give him plenty of food before leaving, otherwise he may get sick.

We hope this article is useful to you and you will learn how to get along with your dog. If despite everything his fear of cars persists, consult a positive dog behavior.

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