Car Issues


New Member
We homed a delightful 2 year old Labrador a year ago due to his owners moving abroad. He is perfect in most senses, kind, gentle, walks well on the lead, has a good recall offlead, socialises well with other dogs, loves people & you just couldnt ask for better pet

However in the car he is a nightmare .

He guards the car if anyone comes near it or so much as looks at it. If i am in the car he just growls but if i am out of it & another family member in the car he barks & growls & bounces at the side of the car. Its frightening for anyone passing the car & embarrassing for those in it as he does not heed anything they say or do. If he is in the car on his own, he does not bother, just sits there. Can anyone advise on how to stop him. The car isnt big enough for a crate the size he would need.

Any help or advice would be gratefully accepted

Thank you


Honored Member
WELCOME!! sounds like you have done a lot of things right in raising up your dog!! and i gotta say, there is something kind of cute about this behavior, although, i can see how you don't want it.

wow, i should not be trying to help you, as i do have a similar thing, with my dog-aggressive dog barking at other dogs out the window,:rolleyes: but, i kind of think a DA dog's behavior is a lil different from other dogs behavior in some ways.

I bet you can solve this.
Do you use a "clicker"??

You *might* find using a "clicker" for this could help. (cost about a dollar or two at any pet supply store, or, you can buy them online).

This might be one of those things that you will have to try a few different things to hit upon the best one for your dog.

One thing worth trying, (this might not work to solve the problem, but no harm done either)
maybe the easiest of all,
is teach your dog to lie down on cue.
CLICK/TREAT. Reward this heavily.

Now bring dog into car, give "lie down" cue, reward heavily in a calm voice. You won't want to add to excitement at that point. CLICK/TREAT.
(car is parked in your driveway).

Now have dog in car, have someone dog KNOWS approach car, give "down" cue,
reward super heavily,in calm voice, CLICK/TREAT, and be generous with praise, have the person give dog treats, too.
Practice this for a few days.

Now, up the ante,
maybe have car door open, and you are standing in open car door, to throw dog off his game(?) if you feel confident your dog won't attack, have dog wearing his leash, maybe buckle leash to seat belts to be sure stranger is safe,
and have stranger approach car,
and stop about 20 feet away, give 'down' cue, reward and praise heavily.
Overtime, have stranger come to within 10 feet of car,
with goal,
that at that some point,
your dog will become desensitized to the sight of ppl approaching his car.
and closer.

Now, have a family member in the car,
(since your dog only does this if a family member is IN the car)
and you stand beside open car door.
Have stranger at distance, so dog is not yet set off, and give 'down' cue, and reward that.

Over time, shorten the distance, slowly, teaching dog you want him to lie down on cue, even if a stranger is somewhat near the car which holds a family member in it.
Set him up for success, have stranger at whatever distance your dog needs to not react, then overtime, shorten the distance.

CLICK/TREAT non-reactions. Keep visits of strangers close to car very brief at first.

YOu could also try giving the dog a yummy kong to chew on, to focus on, instead of the stranger near his car, while he is learning how to be calm in a car.

You can also offer dog calming signals, so far as i know, these only work BEFORE your dog loses his mind (at least, that is the case for *my* dog). Dog has to SEE you do the signals, so dog will have to learn "Look At Me" to observe you doing
~slow, obvious blinks to dog
~one yawn
~a deep slow exhalation of breath out through your nostrils.
^these are 3 ways of saying "calm down" in dog language.

so far as i know, these are useless once the dog has lost his mind, though. Have to be given before the dog gets upset, for my dog anyway.

If dog is NOT barking, stranger can toss treats to dog, too.

Scolding dog won't help even slightly, as dog may even think you are all joining in:ROFLMAO: on his being upset about this guy by the car.
Plus, dog is already out of his mind, now focusing only on his barking, etc.

this may or may not work.
Then, overtime, you up the ante more, and now car door is closed,
and then, advance to you are no longer standing by open car door,
nor by close car door, and are now sitting in driver's seat,
and so on.

there may be other ideas and better ways to solve this, and each dog is unique, but don't give up!!


Honored Member
You could also have dog in a doggie seat belt, he wouldn't be able to do laps in the car anyway.

or put on calming cap when strangers will be by car.

or use a doggie blindfold when strangers are by car. It is a mesh net thing, which covers dogs eyes, (looks somewhat like old fashioned 'sleeping mask' for humans) but i can't find it on the net right now...

and here are some ideas i was given on a similar problem:


Honored Member

You *might* also find, the cue "Look At Me" as a helpful thing.
Teach the dog this cue, when he is calm,
just like you teach any other cue.
I used a clicker to teach/capture the dog looking at me, to let him know what i was wanting, but, then i faded the clicker for prolonged looking at me.

Then, overtime, begin to up the ante there, having dog look at YOU when there is food right by his face,
when there are distractions,
slowly upping the ante,
advancing to dog looks at you even while someone else squeaks a toy, etc. (do slow blinks no and then, while dog looks at you) on walks, etc.
So dog become very razor sharp in his response, to look at you upon command, no matter what.

then practice this cue in the car, with no one around.
all family members practice this.
All of them.
Then have stranger at a distance, give "look at me" cue. It might be far easier, if dog's back is to the stranger.
Reward dog for looking at you.

Overtime, you can shorten the distances of person near your car. But start out with person far enough away, for starters.

I did not use a clicker for this type of prolonged nonstop gaze,
as i feel a click indicates the trick is now "over",
so i never could figure out how to insert a click into this particular cue when i went for prolonged looking at me. When i went for prolonged gaze,
i did not use clicker for that, but, probably some ppl can.

when stranger is approaching, have dog "look at me". Speed feed treats while dog looks at you.
Reward heavily, but calmly.
Keep strangers by car brief at first, just a few seconds. Set the dog up for successs. don't ask more than he can do, til he develops the skill and self control. Just go for a few seconds.

slowly advance along, to half a minute, then, overtime, a full minute of someone by car, and so on. Speed feed treats while dog focuses on his family member, praising dog whole time.

might be worth a try.

GOOD LUCK, and stand by for other ideas!!!!!!!!!


Honored Member
also, keep treats small, like size of a raisen,
so you won't get a chubby or full dog!

on days i have done much training using treats, my dog gets a smaller than usual dinner that night.


Honored Member
Another thing, maybe,
is keeping a kong in the car,
filled with yummy treats,
and whenever a stranger approaches car, dog gets the kong. Only time dog gets the kong, is when stranger approaches car, so, maybe,
when stranger approaches car, dog begins to look for kong, instead of focusing 300% on person near his car??

You could also do this,
over and over,
in your driveway, with volunteers approaching car, and giving dog the kong BEFORE he barks.

the trick would be, making sure you are not accidentally rewarding any barking with the kong. Last thing you want, is to teach the dog "when you bark at ppl near the car, you get a kong."
So you'd have to take care not to reward dog accidentally.


New Member
Thank you for you helpful replies. Sorry haven't got back sooner. My OH sent away for a special collar with a box on it. It's electronic I think, works by batteries, supposed to correct and modify the dogs behaviour. I'm not that keen on the idea however have been over ruled.

I will try some of the advised ideas myself in meantime


Honored Member
A shock collar will only hurt and confuse your dog. I would suggest you either try what Tigerlilly wrote, or consult a professional dog trainer who only uses positive methods.

A shock collar will not fix your problem, in fact, it might make it worse!


Honored Member
The shock collar won't work, I can explain why because I messed up my dog's prey training in a similar way (though not with a shock collar).

If every time a person walks towards the car the dog is told off or feels pain it is going to try even harder to warn the person to stay away because instead of the dog learning that when it reacts nasty things will happen the dog learns that...

person approaching car = pain :oops:

So a shock collar (and any other aversive) actually reinforce the undesirable behaviour but if you make the dog have a pleasurable experience every time a person approaches the car then the chances are that the dog will eventually want people to come closer to the car because now...

person approaching car = treats (y).


Honored Member
I agree, causing your dog pain is both ineffective,
and it's mean.
It is. We all live and learn, none of us are born knowing how to train dogs, we all have to learn from each other, and from our dogs.
It is not impossible, your dog could even develop some issues:mad: from your hurting him whenever he tries to lovingly protect his pack there,
that will make barking in the car look like a piece of cake:rolleyes: . Please don't do this, send that thing back. I have made mistakes along the way, too, who hasn't?
but, i did listen to others, and found out, there ARE more fun ways to get dogs to do what we want.

You can get a dog to do pretty much whatever YOU want the dog to do,
using a clicker.
The dog will enjoy it,:D
and clickers are proven effective,
AND you wont' have to cringe:( thinking how you have hurt a small, helpless 50 lb animal.

Clickers are how they get killer whales to do eggggggggzactly what the humans want them to do. There is no way to scare, intimidate or hurt a killer whale,
yet, the whale WILL do what YOU want if you use a clicker.


Here, a clicker has been used,
to get this 800 lb tiger to get past his natural fear of FIRE.

tiger fire.jpg

If a clicker can do ^THAT for a wild beast like a killer whale,
or get a tiger to go through FIRE,:eek:
It's certainly worth trying on your 50 lb dog who IS very very very willing to do whatever YOU want him to do-----
if only you can bring your dog to understand what you DO want instead,
and if only you can take the time to help your dog develop the skills necessary to comply with your request.

You yourself will learn a lot, too,:D
as you teach your dog how to be calm when ppl approach your car. If you go for a tazor, you will rip your own self, too, and you will miss out on a neat experience that comes from teaching a dog how to be calm.

For real,
return the painful torture device,(i doubt you'd even consider such a 'teaching' method on your children)
and reconsider another approach. We all live and learn. :) Something in you already senses this is NOT the way to go,
do listen to your own heart.


Honored Member
easy 'rule of thumb' on dog training,
whether it is tricks, or behavioral issues, or agility or whatever you are working on,
if you are training a dog
and IF it is NOT fun for both YOU and THE DOG,


New Member
Hi, my OH says it's not an electric collar - I showed him all your replies, he says that when the dog barks, it squirts a citronella spray from the box, this startles the dog and stops him barking. Strsngely from he has had the collar on, he has not barked, it is as if he "knows", although he has not been out in the car.


Honored Member
Good for you Tamm for trying with your OH!

I have to say I have seen citronella collars used and I still think positive would work better for this particular situation - dogs just don't think the way we do!

Person approaching car = citronella spray

just doesn't make your dog like people in the same way as

Person approaching car = treats


Honored Member

Citronella is even LESS effective, and it's still obnoxious. How would you like having obnoxious, eye watering spray in your face whenever you saw strangers by your car?

For real, that smell does NOT dissipate after the dog quiets down, so all hope of "teaching" the dog something is lost.....nor after the person leaves, that smell LINGERS for a long long time.
I know, cuz i use that stuff as bug spray, on my shoes, and my shoes smell for about a week after one (1)spray. Also, your children will probably find this very obnoxious, too, especially if they are right by the dog when that blast of obnoxious stink comes out.
Whereever they are going, they WILL stink the whole time they are there...:sick:

For some dogs and kids, this can irritate their eyes, or their skin, too. It also leaves an oily spot on all types of surfaces and fabrics......yeah it does. Leather, cloth-fabric, your daughter's dress or new coat, your freshly washed hair,
wood, glass, whatever---------------big oily spot, with slightly green tinge to it.

IF IF IF IF the citronella immediately went away,
as soon as the dog stopped barking,
it *might* work,
but, as you will quickly discover, the irritating obnoxious, eye-watering stink WILL linger,
FOR when the dog quiets down, he can't learn, "Ohhhh, if i stop barking, that smell goes away."

won't happen. For real, consider a clicker instead,:)
so YOU can also enjoy learning the neat things you will learn, when you try to help a dog learn how to be calm.:)


Honored Member
Also don't think that using reward based training necessarily takes a long time. Tigerlily has done a great job to describe all the stages really thoroughly for if you do need them all but remember a long explanation so you understand the theory does not necessarily mean it is a lengthy process. You know sometimes it is just about finding the right way to explain something to a dog and it does what we want ever after.

I spent months walking a big dog and it always loitered behind and dragged back as I dragged forwards, and it sniffed this way and that and was generally a nuisance to walk. The dog wasn't really supposed to have treats but one day I got the dog in the right position as I was walking and gave it a treat, the dog looked at me like "Duh, why didn't you say so before!" since then that dog walks in the right position with me about 95% of the time though I haven't rewarded it in months. Another dog never retrieved to hand but touching the ball ONCE before the dog dropped it and rewarding the dog meant the dog retrieved so much it became a nuisance and I had to trick the dog into dropping the ball on the ground and reward that to get any peace :LOL:. Not all dogs are like that but quite a lot are - especially labradors because they are a well-meaning food-motivated breed.

It might or might not be like that for your labrador BUT it really is worth a try. Think about it not as a your dog being "bad" but as you needing to find a new way of explaining what you want.


Honored Member
//. Tigerlily has done a great job to describe all the stages really thoroughly for if you do need them all but remember a long explanation so you understand the theory does not necessarily mean it is a lengthy process.//
i probably should just type in basics only,
whenever i do that, they come back with "this won't work cuz of xxxxxxx" and so on.

but, yeah, if Tamm wanted to use positive only methods,
i'd bet,
with a 15 minute lesson once a day,
she'd see BIG IMPROVEMENT in 3 days....and maybe no barking at all within a week.
Could happen just like that!!

some dogs may take longer.