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Dog Anxious On Car Rides? 5 Ways To Ease His Anxiety

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French bulldog showing dog anxiety on car ride

My dogs LOVE car rides!  All I have to do is ask “do you want to go ride?” and they run out to the car to hop in.  This isn’t the case with all dogs, though. Is your dog anxious on car rides? If so, here are five steps to take to ease your dog’s anxiety during car rides:

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Don’t Force It

For anxious dogs, forcing them into action can cause long lasting problems.  If at all possible, don’t force your dog into the car.  Take it slowly, encourage your dog, letting him get in at his own pace.

Equate Car Rides with Fun

Do you only take your dog in the car when it’s time for a grooming or vet appointment?  Your dog has probably figured that out, and is reluctant to get into the car as a result.

Instead, change it up a bit. Start with short trips, and include an activity your dog will enjoy. For my dogs, they LOVE going to Starbucks for a puppy cup, so I include a trip to the drive-thru to get their treat.

Check with local restaurants that offer ice cream or other frozen treats when ordering at the drive thru, many of them have puppy cups available at no charge for dogs.

Ease Your Dogs Anxiety by Pairing Events

Whenever possible, include an event that will be fun for your dog.  In my case, since my dogs love to go for walks, we often stop at a nearby park for a walk, then head to Starbucks for a puppy cup.

I do a lot of curbside pick up for groceries, so I take the dogs along. Although we don’t stop for “treats” each time, they enjoy being on the go and checking out the grocery bags.

This provides a fun event for them, followed up with a treat. What dog wouldn’t love that?

Think of other things to do such as taking them to a dog-friendly store where they can “shop” for a toy. Your dog will come to equate car rides with something fun and not be as anxious when it’s time to go.

Exercise Before Car Ride

Exercise is a great stress reliever for dogs. Take your dog for a walk before the car ride, allowing nose time to sniff the ground. This will shift your dog’s focus off the car ride and help ease anxiety.

If your dog tends to get carsick, don’t feed him anything for at least an hour prior to the car ride.

For dogs that don’t get carsick, but still get a little anxious when it’s car ride time, take along a few favorite treats to distribute to him through the course of the ride.

Address Physical Signs of Anxiety

Does your dog become so anxious when faced with a car ride that he begins drooling, pacing or panting heavily? These are all signs of anxiety that need to be addressed.

Observe your pet’s behavior to determine the cause of the anxiety and consult your veterinarian for the best treatment. For dog’s with extreme motion sickness, an anti-nausea med given before the car ride will provide relief.

Other dogs may benefit from calming chews, CBD/hemp oils, or calming wraps such as a ThunderShirt.

Taking your dog on car rides for new adventures can be fun for both of you. For a dog anxious on car rides, the suggestions above can be very helpful and get you on the road with your dog.