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A terrible passenger

Does she look freaked out to you?

Shelby has slowly deteriorated into a terrible passenger. She whines all the way to work. And she barks like a maniac when I make any turns. It's a ridiculous kind of bark, as if there was mortal danger imminent. But no, it's actually just a left turn. She's figured out that the turn signal precedes the turn and starts barking wildly whenever I use it. I took this picture after I parked the car, and she was still freaking out. I'm not sure why. I don't know if a bark collar that spritzes citronella will do the trick, because I think she's genuinely panicked. But at this point, I'm not sure what else to do. Everytime I pull into the parking garage, the attendants think I'm killing my dog.

Has anyone tried a bark collar? Do they work?

March 10, 2006 | Permalink


do you play music in your home? maybe something soothing and you could hold her and pet her while it is playing, and then eventually play the same while just sitting in the car. slowly get her used to it. my dogs will lay down and sleep when they hear certain music. just a thought.

Posted by: susie | Mar 10, 2006 6:54:41 AM

I know exactly what you are talking about! My pug Henry is the exact same way. His bark, while it does sound like someone is seriously hurting him, is more out of excitement.

He gets all worked up every time you put the turn signal on and make a turn. If you pull into a parking lot he goes nuts and doesn't calm down until he gets out of the car. Then he is perfectly fine.

I have tried the citronella bark collar for him, not for the car, but for his barking at other times and it worked well at first. The collar did a good job of going off every time he barked. At first he stopped because he was surprised by it, but then he got used to it and he would just bark away even though he kept getting sprayed. He is quite stubborn.

Posted by: Corrine | Mar 10, 2006 7:02:37 AM

Years ago we used the citronella bark collar on Roscoe and it was very effective - he now warns me of impending minor danger with a half-volume woof - about the volume he could have used without triggering the collar. It's very cute.

As for riding in the car, you could try raising Shelby so she can see out the front and back windows if possible. We stuck a plastic storage box under Roscoe's wire crate in the back seat and that made him a lot happier. He also liked the truck better than the car, presumably because he could see his surroundings better.

Now that we live in Vermont, he just rides in my lap or in the passenger seat, which I know is dangerous but seems to be the standard mode of transportation of dogs here. I've never seen a dog restrained in the back like we used to do in D.C. Roscoe is completely silent riding up front with his people.

Posted by: Rick & Roscoe | Mar 10, 2006 7:09:47 AM

In the beginning I use to let my Pekingnese ride in the passenger seat but he would end up trying to get in my lap and peek out the window. Turning corners was hard on his balance as he stood peeking out. As cute as it seems it is very dangerous to let a pet travel loose in a vehicle. I finally bought a carrier which is secured by the seat belt. Pete rides very well with a toy or treat inside and he is able to still see me beside him. I was very thankful for this as I had to brake fast one time and thanks to him being in his carrier and it being strapped in,he avoided injury. A dog sitting loose in a vehicle, especially a small dog can easly end up through the windshield. Please think about this for Shelby because I just adore her and love to read about her daily.

Posted by: Lori | Mar 10, 2006 7:35:41 AM

I just love their expressions and that sure is an angry one. When I have Sandy in the car with me, I use a harness and strap her in the front passenger seat and she just goes to sleep. But, if there is someone else in the car, we have a problem because she will not stay in the back seat.

Posted by: Sarah | Mar 10, 2006 8:19:48 AM

moxie does the same thing, although not the barking while turning corners.

in my car, i have the outward hound seat, so when she's up front with me she's okay, but because of the way it's designed, it can only be used in the front because it has to wrap around a headreast [something my backseat does not have] so then she has to go in the back. i just put her in her crate back there, the same one she sleeps in at night. it's real heavy to lug out to the car but it seems to work. she whines for a couple miles then usually just goes to sleep.

a couple weekends ago a girl i met online gave me a ride to one of those pug meeteups, and moxie rode in the backseat with her pug vince [who, at 8 yrs old, just sat there and/or slept the whole way, what a gentleman!] and they both had those harnesses attached to the seatbelts. i thought moxie would like it because she could move around a little more than the outward hound or the crate, plus she had a calm pug friend back there, but NO! she whined and cried THE WHOLE WAY, driving everyone nuts. i don't know what her problem is or what to do either!

ps, i never got a bark collar [although i thought about it, because moxie now barks at other dogs when we go out for walks, and even though she is friendly, it's really annoying and sometimes gives people the wrong idea about her] because i thought the spray might miss her face altogether since their pug faces are so smooshed, or she would like the taste/smell because she will eat ANYTHING. if you get one please let us all know how it turns out!

Posted by: stephanie | Mar 10, 2006 9:58:36 AM

Maybe you should try one of those dog car seats. She's propped up so she can see out and she might feel more secure in it.

Posted by: Rosemary | Mar 10, 2006 11:53:35 AM

The red vest that Shelby is wearing is her sesat belt. So she's strapped in. If she's loose, she does walk all over the place, and seems to be intent on trying to drive. Very distracting and dangerous for everyone involved. So I strap her in, and deal with the incessant whining.

I've put her in the crate before, high enough to get a view, but she still whines a bit.

I suppose trying the bark collar wouldn't be a bad idea. Maybe it's the next Shelby pug product review?

Posted by: Winnie | Mar 10, 2006 12:04:47 PM

You could also try "doggy downers", PetsMart has a few types of them, its like a mild sedative thats all natural and doesnt last a long time. You could try that to calm her. The product is used for panicked pets or hyper pets so it might come in handy until she gets more used to riding. You can also start driving her around the block to get her over her fear or anxiety about the car rides. I have NOT used the doggy downers, but i have talked to a great many that have and they swear by it for excitable pets.

Posted by: Marie and Bunkin | Mar 10, 2006 12:29:58 PM

Dear Winnie, Shelby does look distressed.
Has she possibly developed motion sickness?
Do you think a talk with a Vet or Pet Psychiatrist might reveal some overlooked
reason why Shelby is acting up? Does she
normally whine when leaving the house to go to your mother's or to somewhere like the Park, the shopping/marketing areas?
If Shelby can see, hear and smell her people, she should be reassured you are not abandoning her...We love Shelby...hope your readers' suggestions will help you to help Shelby overcome her whining and barking anxieties.

Posted by: Jade | Mar 10, 2006 4:03:13 PM

Shelby really looks small. How much does she weigh now?

Posted by: faye | Mar 10, 2006 4:16:16 PM

Does she bark when she's loose in the car? If so, is maybe the red vest too tight? I agree with the other reader who suggested taking Shelby to the vet for a check-up. She's so adorable, even with that panicked look on her face.

Posted by: J.D. | Mar 10, 2006 8:15:05 PM

Shelby's lost a little weight. We haven't weighed her recently, but last we checked she was about 20 lbs. So she lost about a pound from when she triggered the obesity alert at the vet.

She does still bark if she's loose. So I don't think the vest is too tight.

If Corrine is right, and her pug Henry barks out of excitement, then perhaps that's why Shelby is barking too. We've never brought her anywhere terrible in the car, so I guess she has reason to be excited. The car has always meant going someplace fun.

Posted by: Winnie | Mar 10, 2006 10:41:01 PM

I have heard before that to train an animal for car rides, you can use treats. If the problem is anxiety and Shelby behaves well you could give her a small treat after the trip. After several times, she should realize the good behavior. However, if it is due to excitement, this just might fuel the behavior. Good luck!

Posted by: Jean | Mar 11, 2006 7:37:33 AM

My Chia is small, but she does not like car rides even a little. She does better if my daughter is in the car to hold her. She likes to be hugged. She makes this horrible noise that starts out like a yawn but sounds like a pitiful cry. It makes traveling a bit annoying now, but I am sure it will get better. I just keep putting her in, and hopefully she will get to like it. Good luck with Shelby. That is an adorable restraint you have on her.

Posted by: CuperDuper | Mar 11, 2006 8:54:07 AM

We have a maltese - Silky - she is a pup but growing (4 months old now). I put her on the dash board for the school run, but she seems very panicked - and whenever we go over a bump she gives pathetic little whimpers, even more so if we go around a corner a bit quick - she sounds almost human - it's crazy !

Anyway, she is fine on the back parcel shelf, it just seems to be the dash board - maybe because it's all plastic, and she slides around a lot as she can't get a grip.

Good luck with your cutsey pug.

Posted by: Richard Dean | Aug 10, 2006 1:55:39 PM

Big Advice for everyone out there...

For the sake of your daughters (mine is distraught).... DON'T LET YOUR DOG RIDE ON THE DASHBOARD OF YOUR CAR...

We did the school run this morning, and as I went around the corner too fast (we were late as usual) the puppy slid along the dashboard and right out the passenger side window.

My daughter is now really upset as we can't find the puppy now (I said we would come back later and find her as we were running late).

Anyway big mistake. So, if you insist on being so stupid as to drive fast with your pooch on the dash and your window open, slow down before you brake - and if you don't and the pooch does fly through the window, make sure to stop there and then to pick it up !!!

If only I could turn back time for my daughters sake.


Good luck with the pug - I think we will probably be buying a new one tomorrow as my daughter is so sad without her puppy.

Posted by: Richard Dean | Aug 11, 2006 8:39:32 AM

Are you sure it's the turning and not the turn-signal? My brother's pug also cries out when the turn signal is on. We're trying to figure out why.

Posted by: Jonathan Aquino | Jan 18, 2008 10:49:58 PM

My pug Myrtle freaks out in the car. She whines while we are driving but its when we come to a stop she has a complete freak out. She scrapes at the window, barks. People have stopped to see if I am beating my dog. The rest of the time shes a normal dog. Doesn't get upset when I leave the house. I have tried every approach I can think of in the car. I have been sympathetic, ignored her, gotten mad at her, tried treats even a citronella spray collar. I am out of ideas.

Posted by: Joy | Mar 2, 2008 10:45:15 PM

Our Yorkie, Spencer, begs to go for a ride, sits in his Outward Hound carseat like a dream until the turn signal clicks and we slow down. He gets so excited that he also jumps up and down. Bitter apple spray just makes him go ballistic, also the high frequency gadget. We are desperate as we take him on vacations and it is obnoxious for other people and headaches for us.

Posted by: Barbara Russell | Apr 2, 2008 11:39:55 AM

I shop at Petco in Los Angeles and saw some
herbal tablets that are supposed to calm dog of any age -- without heavy narcotics or anesthesia. Maybe your veterinarian could suggest something natural and not harmful to give your Yorkie before every trip. Hope it helps your little one.

Posted by: Jade | Apr 2, 2008 10:44:53 PM

Wait, Richard Dean, are you serious, you let your PUPPY slide out the window and didn't even stop to pick it up?!?! I almost think you're kidding.... that can't be serious can it??

Posted by: Eileen | Mar 11, 2011 6:08:12 AM

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