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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Nikko is petrified of riding in the car. He will shake the entire car ride and it is stressful for me to watch him in such distress. My husband usually drives while I hold Nikko on my lap. Can anyone offer some suggestions for how to ease his fears of the car? We certainly want to be able to take him with us, rather than leave him at home when we are going to be away for a good portion of the day. I would appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thank you.
 

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The best way we found to get our puppy over its fear was sitting in the car with her and giving her treats. We did this without driving around - the car wouldn't even be turned on. She eventually got a little more calm with being in the car, so we started driving around with her, still giving her treats and soothing her on our laps. After some time, she lost her fear and is fine on rides.
 

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Have you tried having her ride in a covered crate? For a maltipoo, it wouldn't take up too much room in your car. Some dogs are more comfortable riding in a crate than loose in the car.

Like drharps suggested, sometimes you have to start very slowly by feeding treats in an immobile car, then slowly working up to starting the car and moving. So maybe short trips, then slowly lengthen the trips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for your responses. Unfortunately Nikko is petrified of the crate as well. If you put him in a crate he gets so anxious that he will lick his paws until they are red. I really like the idea of giving him treats in the car to get him acclimated to being in one. I will definitely work with him on this.
 

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I would work first on crate training. One, because it can be useful in a variety of situations from travel to emergencies to vet visits etc. Second, because if he is comfortable in a crate it may reduce his car fear. Third, because being crated in the car is FAR safer than being on someone's lap. Use a plastic airline style crate, not a wire one.

Meanwhile, I would only get him in the car for some treats and petting while it sits in the drive/parking lot so that he can start to build good associations with the car rather than repeatedly being freaked out and stressed by it. If you do have to travel in the car with him, try to not take him in the car for a few days on either side to let the stress hormones clear his body to avoid "trigger stacking" as dogs clear those hormones slower than humans do.

Alao consider he may need motion sickness medicine as motion sickness can definitely make a car ride far more stressful and fear of the car can be a dog reacting to past unpleasant experiences.
 
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