Help!! My dog refuses to get in car


Experienced Member
I am hoping someone here has had a similar problem. Sometimes after a walk (it is getting more frequent) my dog refuses to get in the car. She is 60 lbs. so picking her up is out.
I have been getting her in by putting a wonderful treat on the seat. Sometimes I get in the seat and call her in. her and she doesn't want to go. This is making it hard for me to take her places for walks as I am not sure she will get in the car to go and I don't want to get stuck somewhere.
She also refuses to move sometimes when I put the leash on her in the house. Even when I say come on or something similar she doesn't move. She doesn't listen to me real well either.
Thank you. Debby:msniwonder::dogohmy:


Honored Member
Hey Debby,

EDIT: Debby, skip all this below, this is advice for dog who is afraid of getting in a car in general, i just re-read your note, and realize too late, your dog just doesn't want to go home...(smart lil dog, heh heh!)
Only part below that still applies is maybe the smelly liver..and praise.

I'm no trainer, fairly novice myself, but i am learning a lot here. What a nuisance this must be for you to have a 60 lb dog who won't get in the car. HANG IN THERE, DEBBY!! I totally think you can, with time and patience, get your dog to get into the car and learn to love it. It will take some time.

Here's my advice, but stand by for someone a lil more knowledgable to come along with maybe some better advice.
I'd start out with an EXHAUSTED and hungry dog, =very crucial key element, your dog is exhausted, and hungry.....first i'd walk the dog, play with dog, love that dog, walk him again, and again, etc, so there is less pent-up energy to spend on resisting you.

If you are filthy rich, go get a brand new car that he has no associations to. BAH HAHA!!:msngiggle:

If your dog loves BRAND NEW toys like mine does, i'd buy a brand new toy, :dogbiggrin:and sit in the back seat of the car that is not hot, and the car is off, door open, and try to lure dog into back seat by letting hi see the brand new toy, squeak it, and keep playing with the brand new toy. And lure with your doggie's very favorite, most irresistable treats, maybe even break out some warm, aromatic, home-cooked liver pieces.:dogtongue2:

Wait about 5, 10 minutes tops. Try to lure dog in a happy voice. Try at least to get dog to eat a treat of the edge of the floor of the car, so his head in the car. Praise this, praise this. Be very very happy about that. If that is all he will do on first lesson, well, that is a start.
Next time---Move treats further into car, maybe only an inch at at time, til at some point in the future, he will have to put his paw in to reach treat. Praise, praise, let him think he did great thing. Do not make any move that makes your dog think he is about to get pulled into the car. Do not let any frustration show.

OVer time, try to get both front paws, then over time, entire dog in car. PRAISE, PRAISE, TREATS, LOVE, NEW TOYS. Make everything as fun as possible to your dog.
If doggie doesn't get in, i'd let it go, say nothing (dog does not get the new toy, btw, leave toy in backseat) and try again next day. Keep trying this, with a tired and hungry dog.

If this ever works, if your dog does step into the car, praise,:dogbiggrin: treats, toy, love. Then just sit there and play with your dog, love your dog, give him best treats you have, stroke his fur, praise your dog til he smiles back.
That is all. Now get out. Don't even turn car on yet.

Repeat a few times each day, and every day.... Til dog thinks, "Wow, when i get in that car, is best part of my day!"

Then, advance along to turning on car, but go nowhere. Ha, do not try this in a closed garage, of course!!!

Just sit in the back with your dog, about 3 to 5 minutes at first, and convince your dog THIS is THE absolute most fun he has ever had.
Repeat this every day, even more than once a day maybe. (No radio.)

then, advance along to actually driving very short trips, around the block, and back home, TONS OF PRAISE, treats, toys. WOOHOO!

then advance along to slightly longer trips, maybe to dog's favorite places. Continue the praise, treats and new toys for a long while. Over time, after dog is getting in easily and not seeming stressed to be in the car, then begin to stagger the treats to every other, every third, etc etc..

Probably you have already tried this....:msniwonder:
I once saw dog whisperer(dont everyone start yelling at me, for saying dog whisperer's name, ha ha!:msngiggle: He is not much loved around here..) do this exact same problem, he walked dog til dog was exhausted, and walked it and walked it, focusing on getting dog to follow him anywhere, and then led dog right into car. worked on tv anyway....

For the dog not listening to you, there are some great threads on learning 'recall'....this DOES TAKE TIME, it is an ongoing thing, but is maybe less frustrating than the whole car thing, ha ha, and is well worth the investment. I'll try to find one of those threads, i know it is also in classroom lesson one.


Honored Member
Oh, duh, i just realized, your problem is your dog doesn't want to go HOME. OOOHHHHHhhhhh. Duh, i guess i shoulda read it better. Hmm, i got nothing.

Maybe you could fool your dog, and next time you DO get dog in car, go right back to park again a few times, then every other time, go right back to park, maybe dog will get confused if you are really leaving or not, bah haha!!

Or, when you do get your dog in the car, just sit there and get back out, play some more. Over and over. wow, this is tough one.

Wow, can anybody help Debby? I got nothing..


Honored Member
Staff member
Lol buy a new house AND car. ^^ Hehe, just kidding of course.

Tigerlily has the right idea. Just to elaborate on that, here's a step-by-step explanation.

Maybe teach her to touch a target. Hold a lid or something smallish right in front of her. Click and treat for any interest in it. She's likely to SNIFF it out of curiousity. Click and treat, GOOD GIRL! Most dogs learn this in a matter of minutes. When she's consistently nose-touching it on her own, add a cue. "Touch" or "nose" or "sniff" or whatever you want. You can fade the target so she learns to generalize that "touch" means stick your snoz to anything I point to. So a hand signal is extremely helpful for this one. I just point with my pointer finger and tap the object.

Moving on...
Have her "touch" the closed or open car door. Put the target in the car, in the floorboard. Have her touch it. Move it further in, in TINY increments. We're talking centimeters here. Just little by little until she has to step up to reach the target. JACKPOT! Further and further in, until she's LEAPING in the car to reach the target. This makes her focus on touching the TARGET, not getting in the car. Her mind is busy and she's happy to get right in. You could teach a nose target or a paw target, whichever you like. Both will achieve the same result. Do this A LOT in many environments. It's not necessarily that she doesn't want to go HOME, but just that she doesn't want the fun at the park to end. So go to the park, but constantly check back in at the car. Play around for about 10-15 minutes, then go back to the car, making the whole experience VERY fun. Target a few times in/around the car, then BACK TO THE PARK! Fun fun. Then back to the car practice(lol), back to the park. Once she's reliably leaping in the car, you can make this a REALLY fun game. Teach her to enter the car on command, and start sending her to it from short distances away. Work you way towards being able to have her at your side 6-10 ft away from the car and give her the car command--she should happily go to the car and jump in. You can make this kind of like a relay. RUN with her towards the car, give the command, then STAY and walk calmly a few feet away. Then COME, run and play, run back towards car, car command, STAY! And so on. Or send her to the car, call her back, send her to the car, call her back....this becomes an AMAZING fun game. She'll love it and learn that the park isn't the only place for fun.

Have fun with it and make it fun for her. The issue isn't going HOME, it's the fun ending! So make sure she knows the car is great fun too. Hope this helps. Good luck!