What to Do If Your Dog Suddenly Gets Anxious in the Car?

Pet Care


May 6, 2022

When you love your dog, you will want to take it everywhere with you. But dogs have a complicated relationship with car rides.

It can be the most fun time for your dog to go out with you in the car. But the experience can also be anxiety-inducing for it. If you start training your dog early, you can teach it to relax during car rides.

When Is a Car Ride Necessary for a Dog?

There are several reasons why you may have to take your dog somewhere in your car. For instance, if your dog gets sick, you will have to take it to the vet in your car. But if the destination is the vet’s clinic, your dog might come to associate car rides with injections and medicines.

A car ride also becomes necessary when you are going on a trip and can’t leave your dog behind. Although it is good to take your pet with you so you can look after it yourself, the long journey might upset your dog. If your dog has never been in a car before, it might find the experience scary.

What to Do If Your Dog Starts Getting Anxious on Car Rides

It can be pretty confusing for you if your dog starts hating car rides when it used to love them in the past. A dog suddenly anxious in car can be due to a negative association. If you don’t want your dog to get anxious during car rides, you need to understand the reason behind its behavior.

Figuring out the reason can become easier if you notice when your dog gets anxious during the ride. Once you have figured out the reason, you can take steps to make the experience fun for your dog.

Notice Your Dog’s Behavior

Try to figure out what part of the car ride is troubling your dog. Is it simply being in the car or being in its crate while the car is moving? Sometimes, external stimuli can also make your dog anxious, such as loud noises from the outside or disturbing smells.

The point at which your dog begins to display anxious behavior can help you determine the cause. But to notice the behavior of your dog, you must stay calm. If you get worried because your dog is anxious, it will only add to its anxiety.

Check the Environment

Sometimes, the car itself can be the cause behind your dog’s anxious behavior. For instance, if the inside of your car is too hot or humid, it can make your dog anxious. Even a messy car can cause anxiety in pets during travel. The best way to get over this problem is to clean your car. You should also maintain a cooler temperature inside the car.

Rolling down the windows when traveling with your dog may or may not be a good idea depending on the world outside. For instance, if you roll down the window and loud noises from outside reach your dog, it might upset your dog. But if there is minimum traffic and the air is fresh, rolling down the windows can relax your dog.

How to Calm Your Dog?

If your dog has developed a serious fear of car rides, you will have to train your dog to get over it. The process isn’t going to be quick or easy. You will need a lot of patience if you want your dog to start enjoying car rides again. Take it one step at a time, and both you and your dog will not get overwhelmed.

Use Treats

When you are training your pet to do something, treats will be your best friend. Taking your dog to the car can also be accomplished with the help of treats. You can stand by the car and ask your dog to come to you. Make sure to reward its good behavior, but don’t give your dog all the treats at once. Give your dog a treat over every good action to reinforce them.

Don’t Force Your Dog

Your dog should know that it can decide to do or not do something. This will give your dog the confidence to go on car rides with you. But if you force your dog to get into the car or a crate, it can make your dog anxious.

However, your dog might also jump out after getting into the car. When that happens, don’t worry, there is a solution for that.

Keep Your Dog Inside

Use treats and peanut butter to keep your dog inside the car and the crate. Even if your dog has a problem the first couple of times, it will learn to relax with your help and treats. But it is important not to close the crate and start the engine immediately afterward, as it can upset your dog again.

Close the Crate

Close the crate and the car door in multiple steps. The first time you close the crate, open it immediately afterward. This step will keep your dog relaxed and ready for the next challenge. Keep closing the crate for a few seconds until your dog sits down calmly. Once the crate has been closed, you can also shut the car door.

Start the Engine

Once you are certain that your dog is relaxed, start the engine. But if your dog starts getting anxious, don’t stop the engine straight away. Wait for your dog to calm down, then stop the engine. It would help if you waited for a few minutes before starting the engine again.

Take Your Dog Somewhere Fun

Ending a car ride to a fun destination is the best way to make the whole experience good for your dog. You can take your dog to a park and play with it to create a positive association in your dog’s mind. If your dog begins to associate car rides with fun activities, it will stop being anxious.

What If Your Dog Has Motion Sickness?

Unfortunately, dogs can develop motion sickness. If your dog is completely fine when getting into the car but starts getting anxious when speed increases, it could have motion sickness. Another noticeable sign of motion sickness is that your dog will start whining and vomiting.

If your dog has motion sickness, you should contact the vet. They can advise you on how to go about solving this issue. They might also recommend some treats to help your dog with motion sickness. It is also a good idea to crank open the window a little bit so your dog can get a bit of fresh air.

Another great way of preventing motion sickness is spraying dog pheromones in the car. They can mimic the odor of a nursing mother dog. They are not only good for puppies but can also relax adult dogs.


Your pets are just like children that can develop anxiety and get scared because of loud noises. It is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is not getting stressed because of something.

If your dog faces anxiety issues, you can take specific steps to relieve its stress. But it is essential to be patient if you want to get the best results.