How to Stop Dogs from Pooping in the Car
Travelling with dogs should be an enjoyable experience, but it’s messy and stressful when the dog is prone to carsickness or has a habit of using the backseat as a bathroom. The messes need not be an inevitable part of car rides, though. A few precautions and training techniques can stop your dog from soiling the upholstery.
1. Take your dog for a long walk before taking her for a car ride. This gives her an opportunity to relieve herself, and it helps her relax for the journey.
2. Cover the car seat in an old blanket, and put a few of her favorite toys on it. If your dog vomits in the car as well, she probably has carsickness and may benefit from travelling in a crate instead.
3. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the car with proper ventilation, and make frequent stops so she can walk around outdoors.
Desensitize the Dog to Car Rides
If not from motion sickness, inappropriate elimination in the car usually stems from anxiety or excitement. Is your dog reluctant to get in the car, or does she become uncontrollably ecstatic about going for a ride?
Reducing Fear and Anxiety
1. Vigorously exercise your dog before her next introduction to the car.
2. Tell her to “get in” to the car or place her in it, and then sit down in the driver’s seat. Ignore her if she cries or whines about being in the car, because coddling her will reinforce the unwanted behavior. Reward or praise her when she is calm and quiet. Then, take her back out of the car without driving anywhere.
3. Repeat the first two steps for a few days or until she calmly accepts being in the car. Then, drive around the block or even your own driveway with her, and praise her after the short ride.
4. Gradually increase the distance that you travel with her, and take her to places that she enjoys. A trip to the park shows her that car rides lead to reward, whereas a trip to the veterinarian may worsen her anxiety.
Accidents may occasionally happen as you increase her exposure to longer car rides. Refrain from punishing or scolding her for it; instead, reward her for good behaviors.
Calming an Overly Excited Dog
1. Walk your dog for 30 to 60 minutes before each car ride, and provide her with ample exercise each day.
2. Command her to “sit” beside the car, and do not open the car door until she is calm and relaxed. Do this often, regardless of whether you are actually taking her for a ride.
3. Sit in the car but tell her to “stay” beside it. Then, when she obeys, invite her into the car. Do this each time you travel with her.
A combination of exercise, desensitization, and leadership will usually stop dogs from pooping in the car. In the case of carsickness, however, some dogs need time to “outgrow” it or need additional help from a veterinarian.