Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer: Riding with Rogue

How to keep your dog from screaming in the back seat.

Dogs barking in the back seat could be sent to jail. Or a crate. –Courtesy Tom Shelby

Dear Dogcharmer,

I have a question regarding my 1-year-old puppy, Rogue. Rogue arrived in our lives last spring, and has since never liked or felt comfortable in cars. She will constantly bark at anything outside the car while driving, and nothing we have tried so far has improved her performance, including using a spray bottle.

I was wondering how I can help her feel more comfortable in the car so that she will stop barking.

Thanks a bunch,


Dear T,

There’s nothing like that beautiful, peaceful drive to Aquinnah to welcome summer, except for the crazy screaming dog in the back seat drowning out the radio and all attempts at conversing with your companion. T, I’m assuming that Rogue’s association with car travel includes places other than the vet: fun places like Tradewinds or the beach.

If you have some kind of SUV, I’d suggest Rogue’s place in the car be behind the back seat, with a divider so she can’t jump forward, or with a leash attached to a harness, tied in such a way that she can’t hop onto the back seat. Now go positive with two or three hollow marrowbones from SBS, one with a cold cut wedged in the middle, one with a piece of cheese or peanut butter. Then leap back in the car, and hopefully she will be “redirected” to the special treats while you drive. If not, a crate in the back will do wonders. Put her in the crate, give her a couple of treats, then the special hollow marrow bones, and you’re off. The crate is likely to prevent her from being high or close enough to the window for her to see a lot of the stuff that sets her off. If the furthest back she can go is the back seat, you can try putting a crate there, or you can tie the dog’s leash to the rear seat belt or restraining device, again using the meat and cheese in the hollow bones to keep her interested.

On the negative side, she needs to learn what you want her to stop doing when you say “Quiet.” Two days ago, I sat in the passenger seat of a Subaru Outback with a barking Lab all the way in the back behind a gate, with his leash extended through the gate to me in the front. The dog owner drove, and I said “Quiet: while giving the leash a slight jerk when the dog barked. When he didn’t bark for any length of time, he got a treat. It took less than 10 minutes for all the barking to stop. Granted, this was a sensitive dog, and it may not work on a lot of car-hyper dogs. Since you already tried spraying her with water (hopefully a stream and not a mist) and that didn’t work, I might suggest an ultrasound correction coupled with the word “quiet.” It’s a small plastic device that emits a high-frequency sound, so high that you won’t hear anything, but to Rogue it will, hopefully, sound like nails on a chalkboard sound to us. In any case, the restricted movement, by a tiedown or crate, is a must. If none of the aforementioned have any effect, you probably need a pro to take a ride with you and Rogue to assess the intensity of her car behavior, and see what would serve as a sensible solution.

Good luck,
The Dogcharmer

Have a question for the Dogcharmer? Write him at