Most dogs love cars and all the accompanying excitement of going for a drive. They associate cars with fun-being with you, going on a hunt, a walk in the park. Riding in the car has all the visual stimulus of a hunt, with other dogs and animals flashing by. Dogs that express this excitement by barking nonstop in the car are a big problem for many people.
Prolonged or excessive barking is aggravating, and when it occurs right in your ear while you are driving, it can be dangerous. Many drivers has had an accident while trying to quiet a dog in a car.
More sensitive dogs, and dogs that are caught in the developing stages of the barking habit, may respond well to spray deterrents. When traveling, take a water pistol along on the journey. When your dog starts to bark, squirt the water in his face, simultaneously giving the command “No” in a firm voice. Don’t raise your voice, or the dog will think you are joining in and take this as encouragement to bark!
Alternatively, you can use a commercially produced deterrent spray, which squirts a fine mist of harmless but very bitter liquid into the air. It’s difficult for a dog to bark while tasting such a pungent smell. You can also buy a special remote-controlled collar that squirts citronella spray when the dog barks, but this should only be used with the expert help of a trainer or canine behavior practitioner, as some dogs are very sensitive to the jet spray or accompanying sound.
For safety reasons, if you are driving it is best to have a friend sitting next to you on car journeys to apply the deterrent for the first four or five sessions. If you are consistent, most dogs will find the experience distracting and unpleasant. As soon as you have thirty seconds of silence, quietly praise your dog verbally in a low-key voice. Don’t pet him or make a fuss of him, as this will re-excite him. Your dog should learn that silence brings pleasant praise as a reward, and that barking means trouble.
Redesigning the car space
Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety when left in the car. They may take out their frustration on the car interior, or simply attempt to escape, chewing and scratching and causing damage that can be quite extensive. Owners of such dogs will find that the use of a traveling cage fitted in the car not only keeps the dog safe but enables you to keep your car interior in good condition.
It is worth trying a head collar, which has a calming and controlling effect on most dogs. Head collars are made in various styles and sizes to fit most breeds. Initially, many dogs dislike wearing them. Accustom your dog to the head-collar gradually by fitting it for a few minutes each day in the home.
Finally, place the dog, fitted with head collar and leash, in the car. The leash should be about 4 feet long and made of nylon or leather. Connect it to a fixture in the car, leaving the dog enough room to sit and lie down only. Unable to jump around wildly because of the restraint, the dog will become calmer and less prone to bark.
Car harnesses especially made for dogs are also helpful for restraining wild movements, and stop dogs from jumping to and fro as they work themselves up into a barking frenzy.
Learn how to control your dog’s bad habits with this professional dog training program!