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When I take my 2 dogs in the car, they travel in the same kennel in the backseat. My Boston Terrier is fine, but my Peke cries the whole way wherever we're going, but he's quiet on the way back.

He's a rescue, so has had many experiences being abandoned after a car ride, which is why I think he's crying, but I'd like to know how to get him to stop.

Any ideas?


Thanks for your responses. Just so you know, Peke's name is 'Bao' (to honor his Chinese ancestry) and terrier's name is Lexi. They both 'kennel up' on their own for treats in their kennels each work day and all night, so they're not only in them for a 'ride in the car,' which they get very excited about. Lexi's kennel is a little smaller so they ride in Bao's, and Bao's fine on the way home, which is why I don't think it's the 'random bounce' thing he's crying about.

I have a long car trip coming up, so will probably need my friend to help out. Usually I'm driving by myself to someone else's place so can't reward with treats, just verbally try ignoring, reassuring, opening their window, playing music, whatever, but he's more persistent and loud than I am patient, which I expect is a problem with most pet owners.

He's been crying in the car for the 2 1/2 years that I've had him so I was thinking maybe this time we'd stop periodically and take them out to shake it off and then reduce the times between stops. I have a hard time ignoring him for 20 minutes, not sure how 8 hours would go.

  • I don't know if this works for dogs or not, but with my cat I find it helpful to talk to her in an ordinary tone of voice, but quietly, so she has to meow more quietly if she wants to be able to hear me. Gradually I lower the volume of my voice, and she usually stays quiet or even falls asleep. – mhwombat Aug 7 '14 at 22:59
  • @mhwombat It's really not a good idea (at least with dogs). Regardless of your volume, it rewards them. It also gives the idea that whenever going to sleep, they need your voice. It's fine if you reward every so often when the dog is quiet, but not you continually talk to him. – jeremy Aug 8 '14 at 0:08
  • What have you been doing for the past three years when he does make noise and won't stop? (Don't say "I've tried everything." I mean what have you been doing that he knows you'll do. Do you ignore, coo him, etc...?) – jeremy Aug 8 '14 at 15:26
  • Hi, Jeremy. What I've been doing is: try ignoring, reassuring, opening their window, playing music, whatever. Eventually, we get there, and sometimes he's cried the whole trip. – Beth Aug 8 '14 at 17:22
  • Reread my answer, I've updated a tad. – jeremy Aug 9 '14 at 22:31
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Car rides can be scary for dogs because all the "random" bumps, turns can make them feel very out of control. How is he in the crate outside of the car? I would start working on building value and love for being in a steady crate. Remember for value to transfer you need to give the reward AFTER he does the good behavior. Throwing a treat into a crate will get him to go in, but it won't make going in inherently exciting as throwing a treat into the crate after he goes in on his own.

Once he's excited about the crate, you can try make the crate move a little bit. Tilt it up and down or left and right while he's in it, or put the crate on some pillows or other uneven surface and reward him for being in the crate. This will help him get used to the crate not always being perfectly still.

Another fun game that focuses on getting him used to random movement is teaching him to get in a wheelbarrow and then pushing him around. Reward for calm behavior with treats, tugging, or letting him jump out and run around. Start off slow by just rewarding getting in, and gradually build up "ride" duration.

You can also work on building value for being in the crate in the car without the car moving. Once you start driving, it helps to have someone else in the car to reward any calm behavior. Don't be afraid to reward your other dog too! If Peke sees that the other dog is getting treats for being calm, he might try doing the same thing.

To help him get over fear of abandonment, you can try taking lots of very short trips around the block, or simply putting him in the car, sitting there for a moment and then going back in the house.

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Since no one else has mentioned it: Cover the kennel with a sheet or towel. The reduced sensory input helps to calm most dogs (and other animals as well). Don't wrap it too tight - make sure there's some gaps for airflow. Most dogs will lie right down and hardly make a sound until the cover is off.

I also find that less space is better. For example, if I let my dog roam in the car, she gets more agitated than if confined in a kennel.

Also, I agree with the other answers. Don't nurture a whining dog. That only reinforces the behavior and teaches them to whine more.

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Ignore him...

Most peoples first reaction is to go "poor Peke, he's probably scared. Poor puppy. Stop crying baby. Etc... Etc..." It might work with kids to get them to sleep, but this is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing with a dog. It rewards bad behavior. (In other words, don't listen to @mhwombat's comment on your original post).

Your best bet is to, like @jeffaudio said, get him used to the crate (it never really worked for me... Some people swear by it), then to ignore him once he begins making noise. It's important, though, to reward the silence in the event he stops whining. Remember to make your rewards short and obvious. Go "good boy, Peke, good boy." Make sure he knows what these words mean (during another event, you can teach him by giving a treat, petting him, and giving him a toy every time you say good boy).

You mention that you're going on an 8 hour car ride, but in the past you've only gone on 20 minute car rides. Most of the time, 20 minutes isn't enough for the ignore trick to work. But it you're really worried, and as I can see it's been 2 and 1/2 years and he still hasn't stopped, you might ask your vet for a drug to calm him down or make him rest during that period (talk this through with your vet, I'm not an expert).

As per your comment on your original post where you mention that you ignore, reassure, play music, and open the windows: stop "reassuring..." It seems evil, but you need to ignore 100%, play music at a reasonable volume, and coast. Just pay no attention. When he stops, reward. If you could have someone treat him when he stops that'd be ideal, but make sure that there is no attention paid or given to the dog when he's being obnoxious.

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