How To Calm a Dog In a Car; Tips To Know

how to calm a dog in a car

How to calm your dog in the car can be difficult for some. Certain dogs are naturally more timid than others. Car anxiety in dogs can also be caused by a negative experience in a car such as a car accident, being left in the car or always associating the car with going to the vet. 

What Causes Car Anxiety In Dogs?

  • Car sickness - This can be caused by underdeveloped ears in puppies. Luckily they should grow out of this. Dogs who have vestibular disease or inner ear infections may experience car sickness because of disorientation and unregulated balance. Even if they no longer have any of these issues your dog may still have a negative association with going in the car. 
  • Noise - Dog noise anxiety is usually caused by loud noises including fireworks, thunderstorms, gunshots and drilling. However, car noises like sound systems and horns can do the same. 

Symptoms Of Car Anxiety In Dogs

  • Scared of getting in car
  • Using the bathroom in the car
  • Whining and or barking
  • Shaking
  • Excessive nervous movement
  • Trying to escape through window or once door opens
  • Vomiting - can also be caused from motion sickness
  • Chewing or licking themselves
  • Excessive drooling, panting or licking
  • Trying to chew or paw things in the car

How To Prevent Dog Motion Sickness

how to calm a dog in a car
  • Keep the car cool
  • Roll the window down a little for fresh air. However, not far enough to avoid the possibility of your dog trying to jump out. 
  • Don't feed your dog before going in the car - make sure your dog is on an empty stomach. Your dog will be less likely to vomit.
  • Sit by a window - If possible, allow your dog to see out the window. This can help curb motion sickness. 
  • Ask your vet about motion sickness medication. 

How To Relax a Dog In The Car

  • Make your dog feel secure - you can use a dog anxiety vest or a dog car harness which is actually the safest option. It can help keep your pet secure in case of an accident and also feel secure.
  • CBD oil - this is a natural product that can calm your dog. 
  • Ask your vet about anti-anxiety medication.
  • Dog pheromone spray - mimics the smell of a nursing mother dog and relaxes puppies and adult dogs too. 
  • Take breaks - for long trips make sure to take breaks and allow your dog to move around and use the bathroom.
  • Exercise before the trip - walk your dog to burn off excess energy before the trip so they will be more relaxed. 
  • Training programs - there are dog training programs that will help your dog associate the car with things they enjoy. 
  • Calming music - such as instrumental guitar or meditation music. Don't play it too loud which can actually make your dog more anxious.  
  • Positive Reinforcement - give your dog a treat once they enter the car so they associate the car ride with something enjoyable. Take your dog somewhere fun. Don't only take your dog to the groomer or the vet if they are nervous about going to these places. They will develop a negative association with the car. 
  • Have someone drive with you - someone can sit next to your dog and rub them to comfort them. If your dog rides in a crate someone can still sit in the back seat close to the cargo area. They can talk to your dog to provide comfort. 
  • Don't yell at your dog - if your dog is making noise or goes to the bathroom in the car stay calm and don't yell. This will only make your dog more scared and unable to relax.
  • Start with the car off - your dog may not want to get in the car. This may be because of a negative association with the car or because they are a puppy and never traveled in a car before. You may need to have the car off or give them a treat to entice them. You may even need to help them in the car or lift them in if they are small.  

Then you can start the car. Your dog may become more anxious when you start driving. You can start with not going anywhere. The next time you drive with your dog, only go around the block. This may help acclimate them to driving in the car. Then you can try traveling longer distances. 


About The Author

Performance Dog Wheelchairs wants you to know that physical limitations are not the end to mobility. Our purpose is to give others and their dogs the ability to seek new adventures and overcome physical challenges with one of our dog wheelchairs. We have small, medium and large dog wheelchairs

We offer a full support dog wheelchair which is also referred to as a dog quad wheelchair or four wheel dog wheelchair, a dog wheelchair for back legs and the patented SitGo Dog Wheelchair. This is the only affordable dog wheelchair that allows your dog to go from standing to sitting without having to remove it. 

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