Help! Puppy that screams in the car..

I desperately need some advice now. My 12-week old Basenji boy absolutely hates car rides.

He screams in the car until he’s so tired that he after some while falls asleep. But even in his sleep he still continues to make a soft cry/whimpering sound until we reach our destination.

He has been like this since the day we picked him up from the breeder.

We have tried ignoring the behavior, but that doesn’t help.

We have tried having him in our lap in the front passenger seat, we have tried having him in the back seat, in the trunk, in the floor and we have tried having him in his crate both in the back seat next to me and in the trunk. No difference in any of the places we have tried.

We have also tried making the car a fun place with toys, king filled with his favorite peanut butter. He is fine as long as the car isn’t moving. Once the car starts moving the screaming starts.

Does anyone have any advice for us? We’re getting desperate here..

We have had the same problem with our 9 month old. I read that some puppies feel car sick, but I don't think ours likes being confined to the crate. She has got a little better as she has matured and we notice that she is better on the return journey, presumably because she is tired from the walk. Hoping that it improves further as she gets older. I have 2 children who sit in the back and it helps if one of them talks to her or comforts her through the crate. I have also put a soft bed and blanket in there, as well as an antler and a couple of treats.

@jkent

Good to hear that it might be hope of him improving as he gets older. We do also suspect that he hates being confined in the crate while the car is moving. But for his own safety and ours we have decided that the crate is the only way to go. Especially since there is no difference if he is allowed to be in the lap or loose in the seats anyway.

How often did you take him for car rides when he was little? 🙂

When we noticed it was a problem, we started going out every day just for a short journey for a small dog walk and I think that made a difference in getting her used to it.

@jkent

That’s the plan here too 🙂 It is difficult to know for sure if we’re doing the right things with this problem. Don’t want to make it worse. But hopefully it will work to take short rides every day and eventually increase the length 🙂

My Basenji doesn't scream but he often cries in the car. Only when he's in the boot behind the dog guard, not when he rides up front with me. I'm not in the car as much now because of lockdown, but I did find that when I was taking him out regularly and putting him in the boot, the crying would reduce the more he got used to it. I would give him lots of praise when he's quiet. Also I think having something fun at the end of the journey helps, so he actually looks forward to getting into the car. He's 15 months old and I think we're getting there slowly. Yours is still quite young so keep the faith. Hope this helps!

My basenji is 8yrs and still screams when we go in the car because he had a very bad experience at a vets. When I first took him there I didn't know that the vet tech there hated basenjis and when we would go he would get so upset the whites of his eyes would turn blood red. We have been going to a different vet now for some time , but he still screams all the way there. On the trip home he is perfect. So hopefully your pup don't associate car rides with a bad experience.

Our mother and daughter used to whimper in their crates when we went to the vet. Eventually they got over it to the point that they voluntarily enter their crates for their trips. We make sure they can see each other and usually one of us.

@alibobo

Yes, we try to make car rides a fun experience for him, and we’re making sure that we always do something he likes afterwards. Hopefully this will help in the long run 🙂

@isabob

So sorry to hear that. We have only taken him to the vet one time since we got him. So all the other car rides has been to some place fun/nice. I hope that if we stick to this for some time he will calm down in the car.

@tony

This started the day we brought him home. So long before his first vet appointment. But hopefully if we stick to trying to make every car ride a fun one he will eventually understand that car = fun 🙂

Hi, I really appreciate your question and am keenly awaiting suggestions also. My 10 month old girl toilets (both weed and poos) every time we take her in the car. We’ve tried someone holding her (hmm very unpleasant outcome), having our adult basenji next to her (he loves car rides), very very short rides with fun rewards at the end. All to no avail. She doesn’t scream but she trembles and is clearly very reluctant to get in her crate in the car. She’s fine with her crate at home and has never had a bad experience in the car....

If you come up with something please let me know. We have an 11 yr. old who howls. Not a scream but not a whole lot better. If the ride is long enough she'll quiet down but we're talking about a pretty long ride. Not sure when it started but sometime in the last couple of years.

@basenji_ulf

You do have age in your side, so that is a bonus. Sounds like he does not like the car, so anything you can do to distract /divert helps. Your idea of short drives sounds like the best idea as it tends to work well with crate training as well. A matter of getting past the initial objection.

I have never had a problem (with three basenjis) on the car rides as it usually means we are headed to a park. However if we pull into the vets....all three have protested verbally and loudly lol.

One idea which works sometimes, (distraction) is that if the scream or howl at you, then mimic the same back to them. If it just ends up being a howling match, then no good. Sometimes they will just look puzzled at you, which distracts them.

Actually I think long rides may sort this quicker than short ones. If the pup screams from one end of the ride to the other, there is always the possibility that stopping reinforces the screaming. I would want to drive until the screaming ceased, then as soon as practical pull over for a break, take the pup out for a walk, whatever. Reinforce the silence, not the noise!

Our Basenji mix hated car rides as well, when he was young. We put a crate in the back seat and left it open. When we put him in the car he would immediately go into the crate where he felt safe.
Eventually he started coming out when he felt secure, and now he just loves car rides, and we don't use the crate anymore.
I believe, that Basenjis are so intelligent that anything new becomes a danger to them. Sometimes, it can become hilarious when he sees something new in the house that he hasn't seen before.
Do whatever works with your Basenji, eventually he or she will realize that car rides are an adventure.

@basenji_ulf
Of all the dogs we have fostered and boarded over the last decade, only one gets car sick. He is now 12 years old and his parents ferry him to the vet or other absolutely necessary trips in a basket on a bike. 🚴♀

Car ride issues are on the check list of rescues that are listed on BRaT (Basenji Rescue and Transport, https://basenjirescue.org/dogs/default.asp ). I am not sure if it is a more common predicament with Basenjis or with rescues in general, about 10-15% of BRaT listings mention car ride aversion.
Apparently some dogs will never be comfortable riding in cars, crated or not.
Good luck with your B. boy!

In all these years, I have only ever had one Basenji boy who didn't like the car. Basenjis are usually speed merchants, they love driving fast on a straight road but not so much twisting and turning on country lanes in this part of the world. They like to be able to see out - and I insist all dogs be crated in the car.

So wire crates, in the back of my station wagon (estate car in UK), keep windows cleaned, put a comfy piece of bedding in along with a 'coop-cup' of fresh drinking water and make sure the crate is big enough for the dog(s) to sit up and watch the passing scenery, or lie down at full stretch. Of even stand up if they want to.

The one boy who didn't like to travel in the car I spaced out on Rescue Remedy, a herbal which comes with a dropper in the lid. Obtainable from Health Food Shops as it is a human preparation. A dropper full into the side of the mouth about 30 minutes before getting into the crate. He was fine then. No need on the homeward trip. They all always slept the entire way home !

I use Rescue Remedy on Bonfire Night too. Means the bangs are totally ignored.

Mine scream when I turn into the Vet's carpark. But otherwise they are fine.

@basenji_ulf said in Help! Puppy that screams in the car..:

we have tried having him ... in the trunk

🤣 In the U.S. a car's trunk is where you store the luggage... which made this particularly funny!

I typically talk or sing to doodle... I've assumed that she just doesn't like the way I drive. 😉

last edited by elbrant

@elbrant over here the luggage compartment is called the boot. So if not trunk what do you call the back bit of an estate car - sorry, station wagon ?

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