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Teach Your Dog to Behave in the Car

Taking your dog for rides in the car can be a lot of fun for both you and your pet. Unfortunately, a poorly behaved co-pilot can make this a miserable experience. Often while driving down the road we see dogs perched on the center console, hoping from front to back seat, or barking their head off at passing cars or pedestrians.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Often we are contacted by dog owners who are struggling with car issues because they didn’t set clear boundaries from the beginning of how they expect for their dog to behave in the car. Below we will explain our basic rules for riding in the car and a simple training trick for getting your dog to behave during car rides.


No barking while we are in the car

Do not bolt out the door as soon as it is opened

Do not jump from the front to the back seat

Do not stand on the center console

Do not distract the driver

Once you have a clear idea of what you expect for your dog to do in the car, the simplest way to achieve this is with teaching a place command. Owners often focus on punishing bad behavior when the correct focus should be teaching good behavior.

Steps for Teaching the Place Command in the Car

  1. Identify where you want the dog to be. Using a bed or blanket is the easiest way to accomplish this if your dog is riding free in the car.

  2. Reward the dog for sitting or downing on the bed. If you typically use the “Place” command to mean to down/stay, then you may want to change up your command to something more informal if you are okay with your dog sitting to look out the window or if you are okay that they adjust position as needed. An example of a more informal command for place would be something like “rest” or “bed”.

  3. Once you determine what position you want the dog to be in, guide your dog there with food and reward the dog for being in that position. In the beginning you may use a leash to block undesirable behavior. The bed/blanket training doesn’t have to be done in the car, but you should quickly move to that location as the dog shows an understanding of what you want.

  4. Practice!! Once the dog understands to wait on their bed, take a few short “test” trips to get practice in. Have a second person able to reward the dog for desirable car behavior while you drive. Do a few test trips before doing  a long car ride.

  5. Be consistent!! Don’t allow bad behavior on some car rides and then expect perfect obedience on others. Also be sure to be consistent even if the car is stopped.

We hope these tips have helped give you a few ideas of how to get better obedience in the car! If your interested in learning more about our training programs, click on over to

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