Dog in Car Problem: What Questions Would You Ask?

When dog owner asks for advice about a behavioral issue, oftentimes, the first thing a trainer or behaviorist needs to do is ask the owner questions in order to get additional information.

A dog owner wrote with this question:  “I have a problem with my 3-year old dog (a small terrier type). My dog gets very upset when I leave her in the car in her crate. She goes nuts if I leave her.  Traveling with her is very hard, especially if I have to go into a place to eat. Other than this, she is a very good dog.”

Here are a few questions that I’ve asked her:

* Has this always been a problem? Was your dog ever okay in the car?

* What kind of crate do you have?

* What is the temperature in the car when you leave the dog?

* How long do you leave the dog in the car?

* Are we talking about long road trips, or when you run errands around town?

Readers, what questions would you ask?  Later this week, I’ll give some suggestions for dogs who have problems related to the car.

Note: With behavior problems, while general information can be provided to the dog owner via phone or email, a suggestion to contact a trainer or behaviorist who can actually see the dog is often appropriate. 

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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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12 Responses to Dog in Car Problem: What Questions Would You Ask?

  1. Kathy says:

    Is your dog ok if not crated in the car? Have you tried covering the crate? What does she do when you leave her? Does she normally like being in a crate? Does she go in without luring? Does she ever bark or “go nuts” in the crate at other times?

  2. If I must leave my dog in the car, I leave him with something to occupy his time. A chew or toy works very nicely.

  3. Sue Dunay says:

    BTS DOG TRAINING: I would ask have you ever tried a frozen Kong left with the dog and or a talk radio show turn it on while you are gone also. And be sure water, temp., a blanket is all in comfort.

  4. Karen Smith says:

    I would ask her if the dog is crate trained at home and if so, how often is the dog left in the crate and what steps have been taken to make sure it is a positive experience there. Is the dog only let out of the crate when he or she is quiet? How much time does she spend with the dog – does she work from home? If so the dog may have separation anxiety issues to deal with and she should first begin working at home to teach the dog calm, quiet, self soothing behavior makes her come back (not anxious). What does she leave with the dog in the crate? Does she over soothe (it’s okay, it’s okay, I’ll come right back), possibly creating too much anxiety over the moment through her own signals?

  5. Vicki Winter says:

    Have you ever had the dog in the kennel with the door open? My dogs know their kennel is their own personal space and are comfortable being in them all the time not just when I put them there to leave. There needs to be a positive experiance with the kennel not just negative you leaving them alone.

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