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How to Take a Road Trip with an Aggressive Dog

For many, the idyllic notion of driving many hours through the states with the windows down, blasting your road trip playlist, and laughing with your buddy is simply unrealistic. Sitting in a car for hours—if not days—at a time is frankly exhausting, stressful, and a hassle.

When you add an aggressive dog to the equation, it might seem impossible. However, if you plan ahead and take precautions, you can make your road trip more enjoyable not only for you, but for your dog as well.

Training Tips for Dogs Prone to Aggressive Behaviors

Before you consider taking a road trip with your furry friend, you should work on behavior training as much as possible. The first step is to identify aggressive behavior in your dog and distinguish it from naughty behavior.

In your research, you may also find that anxiety in dogs can lead to aggression. Learning to recognize the signs of anxiety in your dog, like hiding, panting, and yawning, can go a long way in making your dog ready for the road.

Once you know the main things to work on, you can move on in the training process. At this time, the next step is to educate yourself about training methods. Before you sign up for training classes or take on training philosophies, you should know what types of training are good for your dog and which types can be harmful. For example, there are a lot of myths out there about dominance training which can be rough or even harmful for your dog.

According to the ASPCA, after owners identify the type of aggression in their dog, they should talk to their veterinarian and an animal behavior specialist to help them find the best solution for their pet. Types of aggression include:

  • Territorial aggression
  • Protective aggression
  • Possessive aggression
  • Fear aggression
  • Social aggression

You can work with professionals to help you identify the signs and types of aggression in your pet and how to train aggressive behavior out. Learning the causes of your dog’s aggression can also help you avoid situations that can quickly escalate and trigger your dog’s anxiety.

In addition, you should work with a professional to help you prevent your dog from biting. You should also be prepared in case this happens by having a first-aid kit on hand and going over the steps you should take if and when this happens.

Acclimating to the Environment

When it comes to prepping for the trip, the main thing you can focus on is to acclimate your dog to being in a car. According to experts, there are many ways to get your dog comfortable with riding in a vehicle for a road trip before the day of your trip. You should start by getting your dog in the vehicle without even turning the car on. Simply take her in and sit with her for a bit, offering them treats to give them a good experience.

Once your dog seems comfortable, you can turn the car on and go on short drives. Keep an eye on your dog and look out for signs of anxiety, aggression, or even car sickness. These first few rides can help determine your dog’s association with the car, so try to make it a positive one by offering treats, bringing her favorite toys, and so forth.

There are also ways you can prepare your vehicle for your pet-friendly road trip. If your dog is crate trained, you may choose to bring the crate with you, as she might be more comfortable in there. Bring an extra blanket or sheet so that you can cover the crate if your dog is too distracted by passing cars. Also, posting a sign outside your car that says there is a dog inside can warn people not to aggravate your dog.

Preparations for the Day of the Trip

Once you’ve gotten your pup acclimated to the car, the day of your trip will arrive. To make the road trip run as smoothly as possible, make sure to pack everything your dog needs, including food, water, proper tagging, bedding, car-safety equipment, and toys for distraction.

Plenty of Exercise

Make sure to get your dog plenty of exercise before a big trip. You can take her on a walk, a run, or out to play fetch to get her energy out before the trip. Exercise can help your dogs with anxiety and aggression, so it’s important to ensure she’s tired out before hitting the road. Also, make a point to stop as much as you can on the road to walk your dog so she gets more movement throughout the trip.

Right Travel Equipment

Having the right travel equipment for your dog can make all the difference. Not only can roaming around the car freely be dangerous for your dog, but restraining your pet can also help keep her from chewing on the car seats or getting into trouble. You can choose the best vehicular safety equipment for your dog, with choices like barriers, harnesses, and crates.

Doggie Entertainment

Providing enough entertainment for your dog can help prevent her from barking the whole time or otherwise misbehaving. While covering her view from the outside is a good first step, you should also prepare for moments when you leave her alone in the car to pump gas or get a snack.

When you do this, you can leave some music playing to distract her from what is going on outside. You can also give her treat-filled toys to focus on, dog-safe bones to chew on, or squeaky toys to play with. These can also come in handy if your dog starts barking on the road.

While going on a trip with a dog that has aggressive tendencies might be intimidating, you can pull it off by preparing in advance. Some training, acclimating, and treats should be enough for the two of you to survive the road trip!


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