Jump to content
BC Boards

My new BC won't jump into the car boot - suggestions?

Recommended Posts

I have just re-homed a BC from a local good home because her owner got a new job and couldn't take her with her. She's a wonderful dog with a beautiful personality. She's 4 yrs old next month and is well trained.


The only problem we've had so far is that she's terrified of getting into the car. We've only had her for 3 days and so far have had to lift her into the car. Once she's in she looks nervous to begin with but will happily lie down and relax.

We go away on lots of walking holidays and are looking forward to taking her with us, but we don't want her to be terrified every time we go in the car.


When I open the boot door she will sit and shake.

I've tried enticing her in with treats, she got her front paws up once which I praised her for and gave her the treat. But now she won't even put her front paws up. I've tried getting into the boot myself and calling her in. She seems to really want to get in when I'm in there, but just won't make the jump. I've tried upturning a large bucket as a makeshift step, but she didn't want to get up into that either. I have a large estate car, so there's plenty of space in there for her.


If anyone has any advice or have experienced something similar?

We have limited knowledge from her previous owner but when we asked they said she was fine in the car.


Any suggestions on how we can make her feel safe and want to be in the car would be greatly appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did the previous owners have a crate in the car for her to ride in? My lot are all in airline crates for their safety and mine, and they like their crates.

Otherwise, -- well maybe your car smells different, or because she's all the way in the back, the motion around curves is increased and she's feeling carsick. You could try some ginger before putting her in and driving around curves more slowly than usual.

And last but not least -- give it time. My first BC was a rescue who had no real experience of riding in cars before I got him. I had to lift him in the car for about three months. We went primarily to training places -- fun for both of us. After three months or so, I had to actively keep him from jumping in the car when I didn't want to take him places.


Is it logistically possible for you to leave the dog in the car for a bit with a chewy/something relaxing, without driving? That could also accustom your dog to your car more quickly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Golan was a young pup, about 15 weeks, when I got him. He was terrified of motor vehicles. He was born on a ranch, and lived on a feed lot for about two months; and just hadn't seen many motor vehicles. Abject fear of cars and trucks.


Step one was to teach him the car was a friendly place. So I would bring him out to the car, with the motor off. Door open. Lift him in, praise, pet, and reward with treats. Then allow him to jump right out. The whole exercise took but a minute. We did it two or three times during the day. Several days like that, until he started looking more comfortable. Pretty soon, he was willing to jump into the back seat for a treat, or treats already placed inside. I let him work it out at his own pace.


Then we moved to doing this same exercise, but with the motor running. Car stationary. He seemed fine, but we did that for a few days to be sure.


Then we moved to closing the car door, backing the car a few meters down the drive and back up again. No more. The whole thing takes 2 minutes. A few days of that to ensure he is comfortable with it. All the while with profuse but low key praise (he's a very soft personality) and rewards.


Then we moved to driving round the block. Same idea of slow progression, keep him comfortable, keep it short. Now we are up to 3 or 5 minutes in the car, at low speed, close to home. Lots of praise and rewards. Don't stress the dog.


Eventually we got up to driving on short errands, or to the foot of the mountains 10 minutes away (our usually walking spot). All the while being sure not to stress Golan.


Today, Golan is almost two years old (end of May). He readily goes to the car, straight for the back door (his door). Soon as the door opens he willingly jumps up, and we go off to do whatever and wherever. The longest we've driven so far is to my work, an hour away; and back. He's been fine. When we arrive somewhere, he knows to wait a few moments when the door opens. No jumping out straight away (that took a little work). We're still working on the automatic sit when he exits (prevents running into traffic, etc.).


His fear extended, by the way, to walking along busy streets. When we first went to walk a loop on a nearby street with moderate traffic, he froze and cowered as each car passed by. Today he remains cautious, but no obvious fear. We can walk pretty much anywhere. It took a similar, gradual approach for him to learn I would keep him safe.


Our post lady was a huge help, too. The first time she drove up in her mail truck (much quieter vehicle than other motor vehicles here), I told her about his fear. From then on, each time we would see her, she'd briefly invite him up into the truck with her. Pretty soon he learned that his new best buddy is in the truck. That helped him immensely in getting comfortable around vehicles.


My SAR dog (big yellow Lab named Oro) wasn't so bad as a puppy, but understandably cautious. Since he had to work in unpredictable environments, I took extra care to give him positive exposure to vehicles. I worked at a rural ambulance/fire station back then. I would bring him to work and have him jump in and out of all the different trucks for praise and rewards. That also got him used to the smells of fuel, oil, etc.


Lastly, my no-success story. When my Pazzy (Aussie/sled dog) was young, I didn't know to be so gradual and patient with her. We had other dogs who didn't mind the car at all. I mistakenly started right away just driving her off up the local winding mountain roads to go for hikes. She loved the mountains. She thrived in the woods. She hated the car. I drove without consideration of her needs, and she would vomit in the back of the car. Time after time, until I started driving slower. I didn't do anything in particular to help her associate the car with good things. Eventually she became quite willing to get in the car all on her own, because she knew it meant going out to the woods. But she always panted unhappily (no more vomiting, thankfully). At the end of a hike, as we would approach the trailhead, she would slink off to hide and not go back to the car. Of course, she always came in the end when I retrieved her; but it was her way to tell me she just didn't like the car. She remained like that for all her 12 1/2 years. I can't help but think I could have handled that differently from the start; and like Hoshanah, Oro, now Runt and Golan she could have been comfortable with better handling over a little time.


Apologies for my verbosity; but maybe the illustration is useful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to add! In your specific case, I wouldn't even try to get the dog in the car yet. Start with just bringing her to the car, and reward her there just for approaching the car. It's really the same as what I had to do with Golan, just go back one step further in the process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep, I agree wit the taking it slow. Maybe the dog was fine with the other persons car, but the experience with you is probably much different. Medic09 already said what I was going to say; start with just bringing the dog to the car. Once your dog is good with that then you can start just opening the trunk/boot. Don't even ask the dog to get in, just reward the dog for not reacting to what you are doing.


When I first got my pup he had some big problems with motion sickness. So he definitely did not like the car at first. Luckily, he wasn't really frightened of it, but being in it stressed him out. I started just going out there and sitting in the car with him for a minute. I even started playing with him a bit. I have a toy in the car that is only for the car and I had a special chew that he got out there (elk antler in his case). Like medic09 says, it only takes a couple of minutes. I would start and end all my walks with some car stuff. Sometimes it would be as simple as opening the door and having him jump in to get a treat (in your case it may just be a treat for approaching the car), and that was it. It only took about a week before he was relatively comfortable riding in the car and after 2 weeks he was happy to get in the car. It may go slower for you because it sounds like your dog is more fearful, but just saying that frequent and short sessions with big rewards can get some good results relatively fast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second what medic09 said. I have used a similar protocol myself, and have also recommended it to several people who had rescue dogs who were afraid of getting into the car. If the dog doesn't even want to approach the car, then I start about 15 feet away from the car, just so that the dog can see the car. Praise and treats at every stage. I work up to feeding the dog meals inside the car, first with it not running, then with it running, before I take the dog for the first drive, and then it's just down the block and back or even less.

In every case that I have used this or seen it done, it worked and the dog lost his or her fear. The key is taking it s-l-o-w-l-y, one tiny step at a time, and if the dog starts showing fear you take a step back and work up to that step again. It may take days or it may take months, depending on the level of the dog's fear. But it doesn't matter how long it takes. Once you get the dog comfortable with the car you won't ever have to do it again, and the rest of the dog's life will be greatly improved as a result. You won't ever look back years from now and regret having taken the time to do it right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your advice. She's a fast learner! We started by just sitting by the car, then sitting by the car with the boot door open.

I then bought a ball to play with just around the car. So we started just playing with it in the driveway, then bouncing it into the boot and her catching it on the way out.

We then made it so the ball would go in and roll to the front of the boot but not out of it. She would then put her front paws up to grab the ball which we praised her for.

Eventually we were throwing it in and she was running and jumping in after it. We'd let her come straight back out again, but praised her every time she went in. Once she was happy with that I sat in the back seat and praised her with cuddles and a treat once she'd jumped in the boot to keep her in there for a bit longer.

Now she'll jump in the boot without the toy and just me sat on the back seat calling her in.


So proud of her!


Thanks for your help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If by boot you mean what we call a trunk, it's possible that it's just a scary place. I know it's somewhat typical in the UK for people to put dogs back there, but if she's not used to riding confined that way, it simply may be scary to her. I have a friend whose dog rides in the trunk of her car, but she puts the back seats down so that he can actually access the trunk from the back seat of the car and of course can easily see out into the car from his space in the trunk. Anyway, it may just simply be that the trunk is not a comfortable place for her.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...