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Why Dogs Get Car Anxiety & Solutions to Help

jack russell terrier sitting in the back of an automobile

Taking your furry friend for a car ride can be an exciting adventure, but for some dogs, it can turn into a nerve-wracking experience. Dog car anxiety is a common issue that many pet owners face. In this friendly guide, we'll delve into the reasons why some dogs get anxious in cars and provide practical solutions to make their travel experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. 

A World of New Smells and Sights 

  • Overstimulation: Dogs are highly sensitive to their environment, and the sights, sounds, and smells inside a moving car can be overwhelming. This sensory overload can trigger anxiety in some dogs. 
  • Car Motion: The rocking and swaying motion of the car can be disorienting for dogs, especially those who are not accustomed to the sensation. This feeling of instability can lead to anxiety. 
  • Limited Space: The confined space of a car can be uncomfortable for some dogs, especially if they are used to having more room to move around freely. 

Past Negative Experiences  

  • Motion Sickness: Dogs who have experienced motion sickness during car rides in the past may associate the car with feelings of nausea and discomfort, leading to anxiety about future trips. 
  • Traumatic Events: Dogs have a keen memory, and a past traumatic event related to car travel, such as a car accident or a frightening experience, can create lasting anxiety and fear. 
  • Lack of Familiarity: Dogs are creatures of habit, and if they are not exposed to car rides early on or have limited experience with them, they may feel uneasy and anxious in this new and unfamiliar situation. 

Lack of Training and Conditioning  

  • Lack of Exposure: Dogs who have not been properly introduced to car travel at a young age may not have developed the confidence and comfort needed for stress-free rides. 
  • Positive Reinforcement: If dogs only associate car rides with visits to the veterinarian or other stressful experiences, they may become anxious about getting into the car. 
  • Inadequate Crate Training: For some dogs, the solution to car anxiety lies in crate training. Without proper crate training, they may feel insecure and anxious in an open car space. 

Solutions for Dog Car Anxiety 

  • Gradual Desensitization: Help your dog overcome car anxiety by starting with short, positive car rides to fun and rewarding destinations. Gradually increase the duration and distance as they become more comfortable. 
  • Create a Comfortable Space: Make the car a cozy and inviting space for your dog. Use their favorite blanket or toy and consider using a car harness or crate to provide a sense of security. 
  • Use Calming Products: Consider using calming products, such as bSerene Advanced Calming Chews or bSerene Calming Collar from, which contain calming supplements like pheromones and Ashwagandha and Hemp Seed that help promote relaxation during car rides. 
  • Reward and Praise: Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping dogs overcome car anxiety. Praise and reward your furry friend for calm behavior in the car to create positive associations. 

Dog car anxiety is a common issue, but with patience, understanding, and the right approach, it can be managed and even overcome. By addressing the underlying causes of anxiety and implementing positive training techniques, you can turn nervous noses into happy tails and make car rides a joyous experience for your furry companion. Remember, every dog is unique, so be patient and tailor your approach to suit their individual needs. With a little love and encouragement, your dog can become a fearless and content traveler.