A common issue that we see with dogs that come for training is that they will not jump into this owner’s car. This isn’t such a big deal for our smaller students, but we see some 90 pound dogs that have this issue! Having difficulty getting your dog in the car can add a edge of difficulty to what should be a fun outing for you two to make together. Fortunately, this is an issue that is easily solved.
Before working on this skill, you should first make sure that there is not a physical reason why your dog cannot jump into the vehicle. Puppies, older dogs, and dogs with orthopedic issues may need some extra assistance. Even if you have one of these dogs, you can still teach your dog skills to make getting into the car easier. You can train them to walk up and down a ramp, or you can train your dog to put his feet up on the car and then you can help him get his hind legs in.
Make It Fun
You have checked out your dog’s health and they are physically capable. Now you need to ensure that you have something exciting to reward your dog with. Some dogs are motivated by toys, others are motivated by food. Pick a training reward that your dog really loves. Fido may like kibble, but hot dogs or string cheese are going to be far more interesting. Now the rest of our job is pretty simple.
Go out to the car and open the door. Hold your dog by his collar, and let him see you throw his toy or a piece of food into the car. When he gets excited, release him and let him run to the car. He may not jump in the first time, but be patient. Not being able to reach the item will build frustration, and your dog will try new things to get what he wants. When the dog does jump in, jackpot him inside the vehicle.
When your dog consistently starts to jump into the car to get the reward, start adding a cue. I will frequently use “load” as a command for the dog to get into the car. Start adding the cue right before the dog jumps in. Then start to fade the lure out. Walk up to the car, say load, and then throw the treat. After your dog is successful with this a few times, say load and then do not throw the treat. If your dog is properly motivated, he will predict that you are throwing a treat and will jump in. Reward him heavily and then repeat this many times.
It should not be a hassle to get your dog in the car. Solving this issue will make your trips move enjoyable for both you and your dog. If you have any issues with this strategy or have any questions, feel free to contact us.