While some dogs absolutely love car rides and can’t wait to go, others experience anxiety when it comes time to hit the road. Your dog may show signs of anxiety by barking, drooling, pacing or whining every time they hop into the car. Although this can be frustrating for dog owners and even dangerous at times, there are things you can do to help your dog feel more at ease any time you have to take a car ride together.
What Causes the Anxiety
First and foremost, it’s essential to explore what causes the anxiety so you can find ways to resolve it. Many dogs do actually get car sick, just like people do. Feeling nauseated while in the car will leave your dog acting out of character. If this is the case, your vet can prescribe an anti-nausea medication to resolve the symptoms. For some dogs, anxiety isn’t a negative emotion. They may simply be excited to be going somewhere. Others may feel fear you are taking them to the vet or another place where they had a negative experience or they may have been in the car when you were in an accident. The final reason your dog may feel anxious in the car is due to the motion of the vehicle itself. With everything flying by outside the window, it can often be too much for your pup to handle.
How to Help Your Dog Relax in the Car
Once you explore the potential reasons your dog may experience anxiety on car rides, you can focus on helping them feel more comfortable any time you need to take them somewhere. If medication doesn’t help and nausea isn’t the cause of your dog’s anxiety, there are several other steps you can take. With dogs, it’s all about trial and error and finding what works for you and your furry friend. Start off with short car rides to get your pet used to riding in the car. You can gradually increase the length of the rides as your dog gets more comfortable. Be sure to use plenty of treats and positive reinforcement to show your pup it’s okay to be in the car. Watch your dog for signs they are in distress and stop if you can so you can set their mind at ease with pets and praise. When you can identify your dog’s signs of anxiety, you will be better prepared to help them before they experience extreme anxiety. If your dog hides or shows signs of serious distress, wait to take them in the car. Pushing the issue won’t help. Finally, be prepared for set backs. Progress often isn’t linear and your dog may regress some days, and that’s ok!