How To Reduce Anxiety For Your Dog When Traveling In The Car

Jul 12, 2023 | Information | 0 comments

Taking your dog on an adventure is an exciting proposition. But whilst many pups enjoy venturing away from home to explore new places, some dogs can suffer from anxiety when traveling in a car. This may be because they aren’t used to traveling, or perhaps they suffer from motion sickness. Many dogs also only go in the car when they are heading to the vets, which can create negative connotations. If your dog is showing signs of anxiety when you head out for a road trip, here are some top tips to help them feel more at ease. 

Start Small

Dog in back seatThe best way to show your dog that the car is a safe place is to start small. Firstly, leave the car door open on the driveway and let your dog explore the backseat or area they will be sitting in. Allow them to freely go in and out of the car, and join them inside it with plenty of praise and treats. Next, strap your dog in and take a very short 5 – 10 minute trip around the block. Once home, let them out immediately and praise them for being so brave. As they become accustomed to the car, and learn that they will always return home, you can extend the time period of the drive. Once your dog is comfortable, head to a forest or beach for a nice walk. The trip in itself will be a rewarding experience for both you and your dog, and with any luck they will feel more confident next time you ask them to get in the car.

Bring Home Comforts

Dogs can take comfort from familiar objects and smells, so try placing your pup’s favorite blanket and toy in the car to help them feel reassured. Special toys such as chew cones with difficult to reach snacks hidden inside them, treat mats or chamomile infused chew toys can help to keep them distracted and calmer on the journey, too. Remember too that dogs can overheat quickly, so be sure to have at least one window open during the journey. Never discipline your dog for becoming anxious of the car, as this will only make matters worse. Instead, offer plenty of gentle encouragement, reassurance and treats as they learn to love traveling. 

Keep Them Secure

Whenever you bring a canine companion in the car with you, it’s important to make safety your top priority. Dogs that are free to roam around the car can be a danger to both themselves and the driver, so you’ll want to ensure that they’re made secure in their seat. For medium – large dogs, this can be achieved via a special travelling harness. Smaller dogs may feel more safe travelling inside a crate or carrier, which is then strapped in using the seatbelt. Be sure to purchase a harness or carrier which fits your dog comfortably, and check it regularly for any signs of damage. Restraining your dog is very important if they’re anxious, as if they become frightened they could attempt to mount your lap whilst you’re driving and cause an accident. Even if your dog becomes distressed when travelling, knowing they are safely secured reduces your distraction of worrying about what they are doing in the car. 

Offer Rewards

dogs playing on beachWith plenty of tasty nibbles, love and reassurance, it’s possible to help your dog feel less anxious about traveling in the car. If after trying these tips your dog is still suffering, it’s worth seeking a veterinarian’s point of view. Travel sickness medication and special car hammocks are available if your dog tends to vomit in the car, and can help them feel more comfortable when adventuring.

Written by our guest writer, Claire Monroe

Photos by Ignacio Amenábar, James Frewin, and Kojirou Sasaki on Unsplash