Q. I have an 11-month-old Labrador and I have been getting him into the car boot by lifting him. He's starting to get very heavy, however, and does not seem to want to jump in. When will he start doing it and how can I teach him? Debbie, via email
A. We just assume that dogs can get into cars, but in the early and late stages of life they can have difficulties. Firstly, I would advise you to go to a vet to rule out any medical condition that may be hindering your puppy from jumping into the car. You wouldn't want to force him if he was in any pain.
Next, make sure your car is set up correctly – and remember that by law your dog must not be able to interfere with your driving, so it's advisable that you purchase a dog guard approved by your car's manufacturer. Make sure that the boot is accommodating for your pooch, with no unwanted rubbish or obstacles and a nice bed that will make it more comfortable.
To lure him in, try some simple things first such as throwing a few treats into the boot, or perhaps a favourite toy. If that fails, enlist a dog-owning friend's help by getting their animal to jump into the car so it teaches your dog how to do it. You are more likely to succeed if there's actually a reasonable amount of space for your dog to jump into.
Bear in mind that your dog might need a run up, so try moving a short distance away from the car then take a jog up towards the boot and (with any luck) he'll jump in. If all else fails, there are a number of other options for you and your dog – because, as you are no doubt only too aware, at some point he'll get too heavy to lift.
Ramps and stairs are widely available on the internet. You can look for the best one to suit your needs. There's also a harness you can buy which will help you lift him into the car; all you need to do is to put his front paws on the tail gate and lift with the harness from the back.
Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended