Let's discuss Why my dog barks while riding in the car, here's the Why.
Some dogs bark, while in the car, when they become fearful and or overly excited by the
view out of the car windows, the sounds of traffic, and or by people on bikes, skateboards or simply walking close to the car. One client of mine had a dog that was fine while riding in the car, but would start barking when she pulled up to a fast food take out window. The dog would continue to bark and carry on until they pulled away from the window and then quickly return to normal. If you travel with more than one dog, the over excitement of one dog can actually cause the other dog to bark.
There is good news
In the case with the dog and the fast food window we were able to identify the cause
(fear) caused by the person at the fast food window and was able to work with the dog to
resolve the problem. But what if you don’t know the exact identifying cause? The good
news is there are sound training principles and techniques that can be used to improve the
situation without identifying the exact cause.
The "Where" is important
Where is your dog while riding in the car? The front seat? Your lap? Dogs that that are free to
roam around a car can pass the time by looking out the window and barking at things as your
travel along. This temptation is just too much for some dogs, and some can become very
agitated by looking out the window of a moving car.
I am a huge fan of using a crate, doggie car seat, or at least a seat belt designed to work with
the dog’s leash and or collar to transport dogs. A well-secured “soft” crate provides a safe and
comfortable place for a dog to travel and also keeps them from becoming too interested (or
afraid) of the view. If a crate is just not an option, there are quite a few good seat belt products available.
Window tinting shades may be an option for cutting down on your dog’s view from the
side windows. It’s also best to strap a dog in the back seat, as passenger air bags present the
same risk to dogs as they do to small children.
The What can be done
What can be done to help distract your dog from all the exciting and scary things outside the
car window? The best answer is to give Fluffy something else to do. A treat dispenser such as
a Kong, a Rawhide stick, Yak stick, or simply a favorite toy will keep your dog occupied.
Dog Training Tips To Stop Barking
Did you know that you could be reinforcing your dog’s barking! If you are repeatedly shouting
“quiet!” or “no!” when your dog is barking you may actually be rewarding the behavior rather
than punishing it. Also, if you you letting your dog out of the car while he/she is still barking your dog may have the idea that if I bark long enough my owner will stop and let me out. If you can be consistent with enforcing quiet before you let your dog out of the car, it will have a
Training Example: Place your dog in the crate, car seat or seat belt in the back seat of your can.
Before you start the engine, offer your dog a treat - dog’s can not bark and eat a treat at the
same time. As the dog takes the treat say, “Good Quiet”.
Now, start the car engine. If the dog begins to bark, get out of the car and offer another treat and the dog takes the treat say, “Good Quiet”. Return to the drivers seat and repeat. Do this until your dog remains quite while starting the car. Practice these steps while parked in parking lots such as; grocery store, dog parks, home depot, etc until your dog learns to remain quite while in the car.
Training Note: If your dog remains quite and focuses on a treat filled Kong, Rawhide stick, Yak stick, or simply a favorite toy your work is done - no need to follow the above Training Session
Good Luck and remember; Perfect Practice, Perfect Results
For more information on this and other dog training topics, visit our dog training tips page.
Penny DiLoreto, CPDT-KA