3 Behaviors Your Dog Should Know Before His First Road Trip

Essential Behaviors for Road TripsWhile crates and pet seatbelts are important safety products that can help your dog in a car accident, most pet-related emergencies are caused by unruly behaviors displayed by untrained, uneducated dogs. Road trips with your dog can be a ton of fun if they know some important life-saving behaviors like these.


If your dog has a hard time lying down and being still inside with no distractions, he won’t be able to stay still in the car. This could lead to car sickness, distracted driving, getting tangled in the seatbelt, or becoming destructive in the car. While you’re driving, the last thing you need to be worried about is what your dog is getting into in the back of the car.

Practice relax on a mat exercises in your home and in your yard before transferring this behavior to the car. When you’re ready to teach your dog to relax on a mat in your car, practice while the car is off then increase distractions by turning on the car, opening and closing the doors, and, with the help of a friend who is driving, while the car is in motion. This exercise will increase your dog’s confidence and comfort while riding in the car and will make them less of a distraction for the driver.


One of the most dangerous situations in a road trip with your dog is usually when you open the door to let your dog out for a potty break. Dogs can be excited, disoriented, distracted and often leap out of the car. This can take you by surprise and can end up with a lost dog in an unfamiliar location. This added stress and panic can completely ruin your road trip and could result in losing your four-legged loved one.

Taking some time to work on “stay” at home before you leave for the trip can save your dog’s life. If your dog bolts when you open a door in your home, start by teaching him to stay there until you release him. Once he’s got that down, practice the staying until released in your car as you open and close the car doors. When practicing, always have your dog on a long line to prevent any accidents.

Come When Called

Accidents happen. In the scary event that your dog leaps out of the car without your permission, you’ll need to rely on a solid come when called cue to get your dog back to safety. Choose a secret, super special word that you use rarely and only when your dog is about to get his favorite treats and make that your recall cue. Practice saying your recall cue and feeding your dog his favorite treats regularly before the road trip. Again, begin inside your home with few distractions and gradually increase the difficultly by taking the training to your enclosed back yard, front yard on leash, and local park on leash.

Don’t use his name or any word that you’ve ever used in anger or frustration. Make sure your special recall cue is his favorite word ever because, in case of an emergency, you’ll need him to come when called immediately and without hesitation.

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Positively Expert: Ines Gaschot

Ines is the founder of The Modern Dog Trainer blog, The Crossover Trainer blog, and is the Marketing Chair for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with her own LLC and is also a professional digital marketing strategist.


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