Driving with a reactive dog

Argos doesn’t like the car, or rather to say, the car stresses him and increases his reactivity. Does your dog have problems when he’s in the car? Here’s how Argos and I managed to find a balance when driving.

 

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reactive dog car

When driving, you can’t mess around, you must comply with the safety rules. And this applies to everyone, not just for reactive dogs. So, you have to get the tools you need to make sure your four-legged friend’s journey is as safe as possible. There are three ways to transport a dog in a safe way: in the rear seats, fixed with the appropriate safety belt or in the trunk, installing car barriers or using a kennel. Depending on the car, the kennel can also be placed on the rear seats, but in this case, it’s necessary to stabilize and blocking it. For my personal experience with Argos, I recommend using the car barriers or the kennel, which are safer for a reactive dog. Before using a kennel, however, it’s necessary to teach the dog to use it outside the car, proceeding by steps in a quiet environment.

 

Reduce the stress inside the car

reactive dog car

Argos’ reactivity comes from stress peaks, caused by his continuous need to control people and spaces. When traveling in the car, this is accentuated because he’s also stressed by the unknown destination, as well as motorbikes and other cars approaching, people and dogs crossing the road. For those reasons, I have to help Argos relax, to “enjoy” the journey without too much stress. The Kong is a great way to keep a dog busy and relaxed: filled with soft cheese or any other spreadable food, the dog will focus on this delicacy rather than thinking about what is going on around him. In addition to the Kong, I also use dry snacks like ears or natural leather: Argos crunches quietly without worrying about the traffic around him. Once the snacks are finished and the Kong is emptied, Argos is generally quieter than usual. Those are activities that help him relax, extending this feeling even when the snack or the game is over. It can also be useful to obscure the windows, as long as this doesn’t create visual problems for the driver! If you use a kennel, it’s easier to obscure the dog’s view: just cover the kennel with a light sheet or a towel, but make sure the kennel is sufficiently ventilated.