My 10 month old puppy refuses to get into the car on his
own. I have to lift him up, and he is getting too big to
continue with this method. Once heís in, heís fine
and likes to ride with me. Anything I can do to change
Sure, Doug, this is fixable. Your dogís behavior
suggests that he isnít comfortable with some aspect of
getting into the car, so he resists. If your routine
continues, I suspect before long he will stop even
walking toward the car. Heís figuring out what the
steps are that lead to him being put into the car, and
begins to get apprehensive earlier in the chain of
your puppy over this will include breaking the act of
getting into the car into small, achievable steps, as
well as some practice when you donít have any time
restrictions. In other words, practice this when you
have no intention of going anywhere. This way, youíll
never need to resort to picking up your pup.
with a hungry pup, then take a combination of yummy,
smelly, hard to resist treats and kibble, and walk your
puppy toward the open door of the car. Lower your
criteria for success ó donít consider the goal
behavior to be jumping into the car. In the beginning,
getting close enough to sniff at the interior, or
putting one or two paws inside the vehicle should be
considered a huge success.
well short of the car, and offer your pup some treats
and kibble by placing a small handful on the garage
floor in front of you. After he eats those, continue to
walk a few steps toward the car, stop and offer some
at any time your pup resists moving forward, you must
also stop ó youíve reached a point where he is
uncomfortable, and youíve got to give him time to
learn to be OK with being that close to the vehicle. So
no pulling him toward the car, Doug.
a few more pieces of food for him to eat, and toss a few
more a bit ahead of you, to encourage him to move closer
to the car on his own.
hereís the challenge for you, Doug. When youíve made
some progress, and your pup is beginning to act a little
more relaxed about moving toward the car, end the
training session. Thatís right, end it before youíve
achieved your goal. With fearful issues like what your
pup is displaying, youíll make far more progress
overall if you end sessions at a low stress, highly
end the session, move away from the car, take your pup
inside and relax or play with him awhile. Then have
another session at your convenience, but only after some
time has passed.
you continue, your goal is to aid your pup in replacing
his concern about getting into the vehicle with
confidence. Each session begins the same, with the goal,
assuming your pupís body language suggests that he is
comfortable with it, being to move ever closer to the
youíve reached the car, the next step will be to drop
treats ó or maybe even place a yummy bone ó inside
the car within easy reach. Give your pup every reason to
try to get in without you lifting him up.
this point, another option is to open both back doors.
If your pup is confident enough to put a couple of paws
up into the car, you might run around to the other side
and encourage him to move toward you. Praise and
encouragement go a long way here, while pressure and
tension will hold him back.
Doug, donít be in a hurry. Your pupís confidence
will grow when given the opportunity to go at his own
pace. Your job is to provide opportunity, encouragement,
and good things to associate with getting into the car,
like treats, toys and games. It wonít take long if you
go about it the right way.
luck, and have fun with it!