How to Deal With Dog Car Anxiety

How to Deal With Dog Car Anxiety

Do you notice that your dog begins to shake when you tell him to go into the car? Your dog has to deal with car anxiety, and you must treat him with meditation and special training. 

Now, there can be various reasons your dog must go through this. And the good thing is that you can handle this matter to make your dog more comfortable riding the car. 

In this guide, we will share with you some reasons why your dog behaves like this and what you can do to make it go away. We will also share some cold products that you can use to make your dog feel more comfortable before going with you in your car. 

Why Does My Dog Shake When Riding in the Car?

There can be various reasons your dog begins shaking when riding in the car. Maybe your dog has had some bad experiences in the past, or maybe he doesn’t like its motion. What the heck! These things can happen, and they can make your dog go into panic mode.

Let’s have a detailed look into these reasons, shall we?

Bad experience 

There can be two primary reasons your dog starts shaking before or during car rides. One is that your dog has associated a past traumatic experience with the car ride. 

For example, little pups are taken to the vet and given shots very young. After that, they are sold, and they go to a new home where they are away from their mother or mates. 

Of course, all these things happen after riding in a car, which is pretty terrifying for a pup. Many dogs hate going in the car because they hate getting those shots from the vet or other invasive procedures. 

Some dogs might have to deal with the horror of being involved in a car accident, which also causes them to hate car rides. 

Motion sickness

The second primary reason why dogs begin to shake during car rides is, of course, your dog’s motion sickness. Dogs are like humans and have to deal with motion sickness. 

Quivering that is caused by motion sickness doesn’t begin until your dog enters the car and the car starts moving. And this is where your dog is associating his motion sickness with a car ride.  

It can be extremely helpful to place a dog and puppy training pad in the car for potential accidents. Pee pads provide an opportunity for relief and prevent your car from smelling bad.


Some dogs are just sensitive and begin shaking because they are not sure what’s going on. These animals have highly tuned senses and use them to communicate with the world around them and learn. 

The things around them influence your hypersensitive furball during the car ride. As a result, they begin to get excited and start feeling anxious. 

Dog Anxiety in the Car: Why Does it Happen?

There can be various reasons why your dog begins to shake before, during, or after a car ride. Some dogs start shaking before they even enter a car. While others begin shaking once the car starts moving or they get out of the car. 

No matter the timing, your dog is shaking because he has associated some bad experiences in the past. He might not remember those past events exactly, but he has negatively associated something. 

Visits to the vet

Maybe your dog doesn’t like to go to the vet. He might be afraid of getting the vaccination jab from the vet. 

So, your dog begins shaking, and your dog's anxiety gets the better of him whenever it's time to go to the vet. And even if you are not going to the vet, just going into the car reminds your dog of going to the vet and getting those shots. 

Visits to the groomer

Some dogs don’t like getting wet. Going to the groomer will be an experience where some dogs think they are being violated. 

And you take your dog to the groomer in a car. So, whenever you tell your dog to go into the car, he thinks he is going to the groomer and starts shaking. 

Involvement in some road accident

If your dog has been involved in a road accident, this event might still haunt him. And due to that, your dog doesn’t like being in the car. This is because he has associated car rides with something traumatic from his past. So, he begins shaking before or during the car rides. 

Just being overwhelmed

Dogs are hypersensitive animals and use their senses to communicate with everything around them. Now, being in a car becomes overwhelming for your pup because everything's happening so fast with the sights and smells in motion. This causes them to go into panic mode.

Symptoms of Dog Car Anxiety

There are some common symptoms of dog car anxiety. These symptoms will enable you to discover that your dog has to deal with this car sickness each time you tell it to go into the car. Some of these symptoms might also be caused by motion sickness, and your dog might also vomit. 

Reluctance to get into the car

You will notice that your dog shows reluctance to go into the car each time you tell him to do so. You will see that your dog doesn’t want to put his paws into the car for some reason.

Behaving oddly

You will notice that your pup begins to whine, bark or pant as soon as you tell him to go into the car. If you insist, your dog will start behaving even more oddly. Your dog might begin pacing or acting restless next to the car door. 

Excessive drooling

Excessive drooling is one of the major signs when your dog is feeling anxious about something. And if it starts even more aggressively after you have told your dog to go into the car, it's a sure sign that your dog doesn't want to go.

Yawning and shaking

Another very common symptom that your dog doesn’t want to go into the car is that it begins to shake or tremble and repeatedly yawn. It indicated that he didn’t want to go anywhere in that machine. 

Tips for Calming Dog Car Anxiety

You need to help your dog feel much more comfortable in the car. As we have discussed above, there are various reasons that dogs can develop negative associations with car rides. 

But the good thing is that if you start young, you can prevent them from happening. Here are some important tips you can follow to help you deal with this matter. 

Desensitizing your pup

You can begin by your car parked somewhere and its engine turned off. Now sit next to the area where your dog will be sitting in the car. 

The cargo area or back seat is an ideal option for that. Make sure to give your dog treats, pets, and praise to make him more comfortable. 

Now, your dog begins still in the same area in your car, introducing himself behind the wheel. You can toss some treats back to your dog and praise your dog and keep him calm. You can even use a Kong or a Toppl to keep your dog calm while beginning further away into the car. 

Once your dog is more comfortable, begin introducing your dog to the car turned on. But keep your energy and attitude fully neutral; turn it back off. 

Make sure to toss a treat right after you have started the engine because the noise from the engine can be a bit disconcerting. Keep increasing the time you leave your engine running but in smaller sessions. You will have to do that regularly to train your dog to be comfortable around the car. 

Counterconditioning your pup

The steps involved in this process are pretty similar to the desensitizing process. But counterconditioning can take longer because your dog has already associated something negative with riding the car for some reason. 

Desensitization involves a younger pup who hasn’t associated anything with riding a car. Therefore, counterconditioning involves similar steps but requires much more patience. 

You can use the car to take your dog to the dog park to counter condition him. This way, your dog will start associating car trips with dog parks and enjoyment times. Fresh air can do a lot for your dog, and he will start changing his attitude toward car rides. 

Using familiar scents and anti-anxiety jackets

Providing your pup with something that he loves will always work wonders. Provide him with familiar scents, like a piece of clothing with your scent on. 

It can help calm him down and make your car ride much more enjoyable for him. But be sure your pup doesn’t chew and eat what you have offered. 

Using calming supplement

You can use calming supplements to assist your dog and keep him a bit more relaxed in different situations. Now there is no specific supplement that can work for your dog’s car anxiety, and you will have to do some trial and error. But do this after consulting this matter with the vet. 

Using calming pheromones 

These are chemical signals that an animal's body produces to communicate with nearby animals of the same species. 

For example, for many days after giving birth to puppies, the body of a female dog releases a pheromone that helps those puppies to calm down and have a sense of comfort and security. This pheromone is available in synthetic form.

Calming Products for Dog Car Anxiety

Kong Classic Dog Toy

This classic dog toy is made of durable natural rubber and is a fun chew toy for your pup. You can use it to play fetch with your dog, which is suitable for larger dogs. Your dog will love playing with this, and it will become his favorite toy.

There are different sizes available as well. This toy is helpful for your dog's instinctual needs and will serve as mental stimulation. This toy becomes even more enticing if you fill it with tasty treats your dog loves.  

Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Jacket

Available in several different sizes, this dog anxiety jacket is a top choice for your dog to use if he deals with car-related anxiety whenever you tell him to go into the car. It is a recommended product by many vets and trainers.

It has a patented design applies gentle pressure to calm your pet down and prevent any environmental triggers. The best thing about this jacket is that it is drug-free and calming and has a success rate of over 80 percent. This jacket is about controlling the anxiousness of your pup with ThunderEase, which doubles the calming power. 

Vetoquinol Zylkene Calming Supplements

These calming supplements are suitable for medium-sized dogs ranging from 23 to 65 lbs. These oral capsules help relieve canine car anxiety and are helpful for cats. Your pets won’t feel drowsy after consuming these supplements. 

This formula is clinically proven to assist in relieving stress. It can be helpful during car rides, thunderstorms, separations, and so much more. It is composed of natural ingredients and is suitable for sensitive stomachs. 

Make sure to give it to your pup at least a day before the stress event. This supplement is an excellent option for short and long-term use. 

Adaptil Calming Spray

This dog-appeasing pheromone spray helps comfort dogs, especially during car travel. It can be helpful during vet visits or various other stressful events. It's an effective drug-free solution that you can use to calm your pup down.

It mimics the natural mother’s pheromones and helps your dog feel relaxed. It reduces any signs of stress, and your dog won’t have to deal with motion sickness or other symptoms. Moreover, it works like magic, and each application can easily last up to 5 hours. 

Bach Rescue Remedy Stress Relief

The essence of flowers and plants is used in developing homeopathic remedies. And that is why it is so effective in relieving stress for your pet. 

For the best results, you must use it at least a couple of days before the stress event. You must keep giving it to your dog every four hours in water, food, or even treats. But it will help your dog deal with the stress of going into the car effectively without any side effects. 

Wrap up

Dogs are highly sensitive animals, and there are various ways to prepare them for their first car ride. But if your dog has some past negative experiences with car rides, you have to be even more patient with them to desensitize or counter-condition them. 

There are various products ranging from dog toys to homeopathic remedies, pheromones, and suppliers that you can use to overcome dog car anxiety and calm the senses of your dog so he can start enjoying car rides. 

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