Dogs and Cars

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Wed Oct 24, '12 8:56am PST 
I saw a quote the other day contemplating whether or not dogs understand cars.

Basically, it said that dogs have no way of knowing we control the car, and for all they know, we hop into this thing and head out on an adventure to where ever it stops.

I found it an interesting thought. Do you think dogs have any concept around us controlling the vehicle?
Vance CGC

You kids g'off- my lawn!
Barked: Wed Oct 24, '12 9:03am PST 
I think it's more of a cause and effect for them than a true understanding. Obviously the car does not start unless you are present, and does not move unless you are present. Vance had little things figured out too. Rain meant the windshield wipers were about to start, which was fun to watch. The blinker sound meant we were about to turn, so he would brace himself in case it was a hard turn.
Jewel, PCD

8.6lbs of fury- in a bow!
Barked: Wed Oct 24, '12 9:56am PST 
Jewel rides in the front seat (booster seat/harness and she's too light to turn on the weight controlled air bag) and seems to understand that I need to have my hands on the wheel to go somewhere. The other day we were sitting in the car waiting for the windshield to de-frost and she keeping looking at me and whining. Which makes me believe she understood that because my hands where on my cell phone and not the wheel that we were not going anywhere fun yet.

A larger dog that rides in the back and doesn't see everything you're doing might not understand.


More Bored- Collies
Barked: Wed Oct 24, '12 1:46pm PST 
Cobain has come to the understanding that in order to go somewhere I need keys. Therefore every opportunity he gets, he will bring my keys to me and drop them on my lap.
Endorsing this as a "trick" and not taking him out has lessened the frequency of this though.
Like Vance, Cobain also braces himself at the sound of directionals.

As for comprehending that I am the one controlling the car? I would go as far as to say he understands someone needs to be in the front seat in order for it to move. But I'm not sure how much more he understands.
Vance CGC

You kids g'off- my lawn!
Barked: Wed Oct 24, '12 6:05pm PST 
For that matter, how many people truly understand cars? I come from a very DIY family so I've always done most of my own work on my cars. It's always a bit of a shock to talk to a human who literally thinks that you just put gas in sometimes, turn the key and magically go places. Sometimes when the key doesn't start it, it needs to get towed to a garage. I've seen people driving around with a rear axel snapped in half, car shaking violently back and forth, completely oblivious to the problem.

And on that note, all of my dogs thoroughly enjoy working on the cars. They may understand concepts like no tires = no rides, or things removed from under the hood = no rides. I kind of want to test that now...

They also without a doubt understand that certain vehicles bring certain people. Vance especially used to sniff drivers side door handles on the way through a parking lot, wagging in recognition of certain cars.

More Bored- Collies
Barked: Thu Oct 25, '12 5:15am PST 
Vance, Cobain understands that as well.
He knows that Sarah and Dino (dogs he walks with), show up in a black HHR. As soon as they see that car in the driveway, the house shakes with the excitement.
What impressed me most though was that these cars are everywhere, especially black ones; and once while on a car ride himself, Cobain let out a single woof to a car driving past. He never barks while in the car, and it turned out that this woman in particular was driving the car!

Let's play tug!!
Barked: Thu Oct 25, '12 10:49pm PST 
It's interesting to think about. If he doesn't have any concept of me controlling it, Smokey is remarkably calm. He's a very nervous dog, but he sleeps most of the time when I drive. I guess more likely, everything is from a conditioned association standpoint. He knows that he gets petting and treats, and that bad things don't happen in there. It's crazy to think about getting into a 65 mph glass box that you don't understand, but not being anxious.

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Sat Oct 27, '12 3:35pm PST 
I've thought about this, and I actually do think there's a bit more understanding going on than that.

I'm not pretending to know how much Lupi really grasps about the whole car ride experience, but she does seem to connect me with controlling the car. I say this because if we sit there not moving, she stares at me and sighs or whines as if to tell me to hurry up and get going. And she does that to whomever is sitting in the driver's seat. She seems to understand that the driver has control, because that's who she'll stare at when we're going somewhere. She puts her head on their arm and tries to use mind control to get them to go somewhere awesome like a drive-through or dog park.

She also connects keys with a car ride and recognizes many vehicles.