How To Get A Dog Into A Car – 5 Practical Methods

how to get a dog into a car

Dogs can be extremely stubborn creatures sometimes and getting a dog into a car can often be one of those challenging times. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if they know they are going for a walk, it just seems they don’t want to play ball…excuse the pun.


5 Ways To Get A Dog Into A Car

  1. Lift Them In Using The Front Paws Back Paws Method 
  2. Car Boot Dog Ramp 
  3. Train Them To Jump In 
  4. Use Backseats Rather Than The Boot
  5. Lifting In A Crate

It can be an infuriating situation when you want to take your dog in the car and they just won’t budge. There will be an underlying reason why your dog doesn’t want to get in the car and this can stem from anxiety, motion sickness, or even general laziness. Hopefully, one of these methods will help you along the way and encourage your dog to get used to riding in the car.

1. Lift Them In Using the Front Paws Back Paws Method

Getting a dog into a car is not such a hard task for those with smaller toy breeds. Apart from some rather crazy wiggling, smaller dogs are easier to carry than large breeds. If you have ever managed to pick a large dog up you will know that 9 times out of 10 the dog goes limp, there is no easy way of fully lifting a large dog. I find the best method to lift a large dog off the ground is to cradle them with one arm just in front of their forward legs and one arm under their bum. This is of course still not an easy process and often ends up with some rather achy joints and noises way beyond my years.

The front paws back paws method is much easier especially when handling a large dog. The process is quite simple:

Firstly lift your dog’s paws onto the bumper area of the boot or the back seat depending on where you plan on putting them.

Once they are in the correct position, hold their back legs up near their hips and with your palms pushing forwards lift them into the boot or back seat area. By giving some force forwards you encourage your dog to stay in that direction. Sometimes dogs can be a little mischievous and move to the side, so you end up pushing them off the bumper.

In most cases, a dog that won’t get into a car will always jump out on their own, although there are some things to think about when allowing them to do so. I cover this in more depth later.

2. Car Boot Dog Ramp

This is commonly the solution giving to dogs who are getting older and have joint pain. Stubborn dogs can also use this as a way to get into a car, although this will depend on the reasoning behind your dog’s behavior. Some dogs find it hard to jump especially when it comes to an unknown landing point, in this case, a platform that is above their eye line. If you have a dog that is large but not naturally lean like a greyhound then they may struggle to jump. Check out our article on “How High Can Dogs Jump” for some interesting information on dog jumping ability.

As a solution to those dogs that don’t mind being in the car, they just can’t jump, then a dog ramp is ideal. I must warn you though, that if your dog is not keen on the car then you will most likely end up dragging them up the steps anyway. This could be dangerous as car boot dog ramps are not the most stable items when being subjected to any side forces. They are generally used for a steady climb up the ramp and into the boot.

You could use a dog ramp for the backseat area too, it will just be a case of measure the width of your seat and matching it to the dog ramps width. You can purchase different kinds of dog ramp and most of them are sufficient to do the job. They tend to be foldable so you can keep it in your car as they don’t take up an enormous amount of room. When looking for the best dog ramp try and think about sturdiness, making sure to check the loading it can take and matching it to your dog. A non-slip surface is also vital as the last thing you want to do is scare your pooch by allowing them to slip off the ramp, this will make it even more difficult to get them in the car.

Are Stairs Or A Ramp Better For Dogs

There is another option when it comes to using a ramp to get your dog in the car. Folding stairs can be used to help your dog into a car. Although in the case of a dog with arthritis I would still recommend using a ramp. For other dogs, stairs could offer a more familiar and sturdy option. If you live in a house with stairs then your dog may recognize this method of climbing and be a bit more willing to try it. On the plus side, stairs tend to be a bit more stable than a ramp so will also not put your dog off using them over and over again.

3. Train Them To Jump In

You may thin that I’m being condescending, however, training can be the most effective way of never needing a ramp or to lift your dog into the car. It’s not certain that you will be able to train your dog to jump into the car but in many cases, it’s worth a try. Dogs with heightened anxiety for car rides will probably not be trainable and if you are able to get them to jump in this will probably not happen a second time as your dog realizes the actual car ride is the next part to this series of events.

As you will see in the video above perseverance is everything when it comes to dog training, not just for this command but for many other aspects of training. Owners often don’t give their dogs enough time to get used to the training and this is often the reason why dogs become disobedient.

Personally, I have always found reward-based training to be the most effective both for my dog and for myself. I don’t feel like I’m forcing my dog to do something, especially when it comes to the car. most dogs are probably don’t care either whether they are in the car or not, so you need to convince your dog that the car is where the reward is based.

As a process slowly entice your dog into the car with their favorite treat. Start by putting the treat within reach of your dog and slowly make the treat further and further away. If your dog decides one treat is too far away then add another treat a little closer, this should get your dog to eat the second treat once the closer one is gone. With this method, your dog should slowly get further and further into the car until they are fully in. once your dog is inside the vehicle then reward them with an abundant amount of treats and praise, reinforcing the fact that being inside the car is where the action is.

It is a lot easier to complete this training for the backseat area of the car, if you want to have your dog in the boot, then you will need a little more patience. I suggest trying this method for them jumping into the boot. However, because of the height and lip on the bumper, it may be a difficult task. In this case, your second attempt should be using a ramp and by following the same method, entice your dog to walk up the ramp and into the boot.

4. Using The Backseats Rather Than The Boot

As I highlighted above training your dog to jump into a car is much easier when using the backseat, rather than the boot. If your dog does have some anxiety towards riding in the car, lifting is going to be a better option than training and with a smaller distance to lift, the backseat is better.

Most owners don’t want to put their dogs in the back seat of their car for obvious reasons. We see this area as a clean and tidy space and so putting a muddy wet smelly dog into this area can be somewhat off-putting. This can be rectified with some quick maintenance and the right equipment.

The most important thing when considering putting your pooch in the backseat of your car is security. At this point, there are two security issues to consider, one concerning the law and another concerning the dog’s welfare.

The law states that your dog must be kept under control when travelling in a vehicle, this means they must not be able to distract the driver in any way shape or form. As hard as it is, you may want to consider a dog guard for the back of your front seats. These are commonly used for separating the boot, but many can be attached to the front seats too.

As a loving dog owner, you will want to ensure your pooch is safe whilst traveling in a car. security is a common thing for dogs and many owners use them. There are a few different attachments you can have for securing your dog, this interacts with your car seat belt so that in the event of a crash your dog doesn’t go flying forwards into the dog guard, or even worse through the windscreen. We have more information on traveling in a car with a dog in our article “How To Travel With A Large Dog”.

5. Lifting In A Crate

This is the last resort method and will probably require a two-person lift, depending on the size of your dog. It is advisable that when traveling with a dog in the boot, they are inside a crate, it’s not the law but your dog should be secured in some way. Crates offer extra protection and somewhere in which you can make extra comfy for your pooch.

This method is fairly self-explanatory, where you lift the entire crate into the boot with your dog inside (hopefully your dog doesn’t mind getting in their crate). You should be able to strap and secure the crate to the car, this ensures that the crate does not slide around. Preferably look for the anchor point inside your boot and strap around the metal or handle area of the crate.

Why Is My Dog Refusing To Get Into The Car

There could be a few reasons as to why your dog is refusing to get into the car and they are all very different.

Dog Won’t Get Into The Car After A Walk

It may come of no surprise to many dog owners that their dog won’t get into the car after a walk. This is one of the main reasons why your dog is refusing to get into the car and may stem from a couple of things.

Firstly you may just have a stubborn dog who thinks they can pull a fast one by refusing to get into the car, they may even think this will get them an extension to their walk.

The second reason may be that you haven’t given your pooch enough of a walk to be fully satisfied. If you have an energetic dog then this will mean that you will have to walk them a bit longer than other breeds. Presumably, if you are taking your dog in the car somewhere you will be letting them off the lead to run around. Letting your dog free run is one of the best ways to exercise them physically and mentally. You may find your pooch is a bit more content when you want to take them home, although you may need to give them a lift up as they will be tired.

The third and final reason is that with no prospective walk to look forward to your dog is more reluctant to obey. When they got into the car at home they knew they were getting a walk and so cooperated, but now you will need to use treats or something else like a toy to entice them in. If you are looking for some fun games to play during your walk then check out our article on “9 Games To Play While Walking The Dog”.

Why Won’t My Dog Get Out Of The Car?

Dogs can be reluctant to get out of the car because they get used to the fact that their walk is over. You may find your dog only refuses to get out at home. As a precaution, you should also get them examined to check they don’t have any underlying injuries. 

In order to solve this problem, you will need to figure out the reason for your dog’s refusal. Work through a process of elimination by identifying whether it is at home your dog refuses to get out or for another reason.

If it is the home that is the case you will need to use some encouragement, through the use of treats. Show your dog that the exterior of the car is the most exciting place at that moment, you will need to make them understand that when they arrive home its not the end of the fun. Throw some treats on the floor or grab their favorite toy. Try not to go into the house straight away, otherwise, your dog will associate this with the end of their walk. If possible you could even go around the back of your house and if you have a garden take them through to that area rather than straight indoors.

Dogs adore routine it is just what they are made to do and if you make your walking routine fun, both during and after the main walk your dog should hopefully start to get out of the car easier. playing is a good way to encourage your dog to get out of the car, so as mentioned previously go around to the back garden and play some catch. As long as you keep this routine up every time for the initial few months, then start slowly phasing it out so that you don’t have to do it every single time, but still make sure that this could be something your dog expects.

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Scared Of Car Rides

The most likely cause of sudden fear of car rides is that your dog has experienced something they did not enjoy their last car journey. This is most likely feeling sick, ill, or even experiencing a particularly bumpy ride which has scared them. 

Dogs have an extremely good ability to remember something painful or unsettling. Memories like this they carry around with them and anything that might put them in a similar situation will be something they try to avoid. For example, if you or I were to touch an open flame fro the first time, it’s more than likely that we wouldn’t want to touch it again. This is a survival instinct and dogs have it too, the only difference is that your dog cannot put into context the events that have happened, so they associate anything similar to this experience.

A real-life example would be my beloved golden retriever, who one afternoon gave out a yelp in the garden. Either he was stung by a bee or had overstretched his jaw with one of his toys. A visit to the vet uncovered no damage and pressing on his mouth area gave no pain. If you tried to open his jaw he would yelp, although he was perfectly ok when eating his food. We concluded that the yelping must have been the fear of having the same pain he felt when he hurt it. After many months he has slowly learned to open his mouth again when catching tennis balls and tug of war was never a problem for him. Despite this whenever we try to open his mouth to check his teeth (which we always used to do with no issues) he is very tentative.

Using these examples you can see that time and more positive reinforcement will be required to help with your dog’s fear of car rides, just be patient and it will come.

How To Get A Puppy Used To Car Rides

To get a puppy used to a car ride the owner must ensure that their early experiences inside a car are mostly positive. Use the space inside the car to reinforce positive fun behavior, socializing with your puppy, treats, and toys galore. In addition to this, you should make sure your puppy is not transported in an area of the car where they have no company or feel un-secure. 

It is most likely that an owner will transport their puppy in a car when picking them up from the breeder. This first experience for the puppy will be highly stressful as they are being taken away from their mother and siblings. Try to make this first experience as positive as possible, keep your new pup close by whilst interacting with them. The next few car rides will most likely be to the vet, due to your puppy needing their jabs. Many vets carry out puppy classes which can be a great idea after your pup is fully vaccinated. This experience will encourage your puppy to associate the vets with fun.

According to an article published in the journal of behavior, dogs have some vital stages in their lives referred to as the socialization period. The research suggests that between the ages of 12 weeks and 6 months socialization and experience should be reinforced in a positive way. A study conducted using wolves showed that although they were socialized with humans during the early stages of their life (0 – 3 months) once that socialization was take away between months 3 and 6 they became fearful of humans.

This research is quite extensive and shows that positive reinforcement of experiences are vital from an early age all the way through to month 6 and beyond. Using this research we can highlight that in order to get your puppy used to car rides and become a more confident adult when riding in the car, we as owners must make their experience as positive as possible.

Below are some things which could help your puppy have a more enjoyable experience in the car.

  • Ensure their initial car rides are calm and you are close by for comfort
  • Make sure the car is warm and comfortable with plenty of blankets
  • Try to avoid long journeys or trips away as a prolonged experience can be negative
  • Try to avoid bumpy rides
  • Keep windows closed and any noise to a minimum
  • If you have another dog, put them together for the company
  • Make sure you use correct gear to secure your puppy appropriately

What Is The Easiest Car For A Dog To Get Into

This really comes down to the type of car you choose, sometimes it can be difficult to get both ease and practicality in the same space. Larger cars such as SUVs will have more room for your dog’s bed, crate, or even multiple dogs. However, an SUV is much higher up than some other car types and less agile dogs may have trouble getting in and out. Long estate cars can offer the advantage of a flat bottom boat, which is generally lower than larger vehicles such as SUVs. Estate cars still have plenty of room in them, its just a matter of whether you want to be driving such a long vehicle. Smaller hatchback cars are more convenient for driving around small towns and country lanes. however larger dogs would struggle with the room available in both the boot and the backseat, but there are ways to make it work if a small hatchback is what you want. If you have a small dog choosing a car is not as difficult and many small dogs are great jumpers so may not even have an issue with the height of the boot or even the backseat area.


In the world we live in today we rely heavily on our car and our dogs will often follow us along on journeys from time to time. Trying to get your dog in the car starts from an early age, ensuring they are well integrated into the experience. Good training will hopefully ensure your dog can get into the car on his own. If not there should be some methods you can try in this article. Happy adventures!

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more about getting outside with your pooch then check out our homepage for more great articles.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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