We all tend to get frustrated in the car for many reasons. The way other’s drive can cause us to launch in to a conversation even though there are no other people in the car with us, and sometimes that conversation is none to pleasant. If you have your dog in the car with you try and image what is going through their mind. They do not understand the concept of driving or road laws or any of that. They are going to think that you are talking to them and they may think that you are upset with them.
Even if you do not say one word out loud but let yourself get upset because that driver cut you off, your dog is going to feel that, and they are probably going to think that you are mad at them.
Maybe you are running late, and the traffic is stop and go and your frustration level is getting higher and higher. Try to stop and think about your dog sitting in there with you. There may be sights and sounds and smells that are not very familiar to them and then you compound that with your anger and it may scare your dog.
Pretty soon your dog is going to dread getting in your vehicle because they learn that it is a place of chaos and emotional turmoil and they may not be relaxed when you get to your destination. If you are taking your dog to a dog training class for example they need to be relaxed and composed when you get there. A tense, chaotic drive might put them in to a defensive frame of mind and you will probably not get as much out of the dog training class as you should.
If you are going out to a park and your dog is stressed from the car ride they may react negatively to situations that arise when you meet new people and/or new dogs while out on your walk.
Dog behavior is largely based on what they learn from their environment. So you may not realize that you are training your dog by your everyday actions and your emotions, and one place that brings out a lot of emotion for us can be driving in our cars.
So, calm down when you drive. Let the other drivers slide a bit, especially when your dog is in the car with you. It is always best to find a harness and buckle your dog in. Try to avoid sharp turns and sudden stops. You know the turn, or the stop is coming, and you have the steering wheel to hold on to. Your dog does not, and they may feel like they are about to fall. Talk calmly to your dog and praise them if they are in a calm state of mind with you. Keep your music turned down low and consider playing something mellow that helps to keep you in a low key frame of mind.
Pretty soon you will find that these habits trickle over to when you are driving without your dog and that is not a bad thing.