3 Ways to Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car

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3 Ways to Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car
3 Ways to Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car

It's important to be able to ride your dog in a car without him making too much of a mess, but this can be a problem if he's the type who gets nervous in the car. Whether you need to take a short trip with your anxious dog to the vet or you need to take a long car trip, there are a few steps you can take to make the trip with your anxious dog easier, and the experience more enjoyable for both of you. If you love him and want to take trips with him, learn to treat and overcome the dog's nervousness in the car.


Method 1 of 3: Taking a Successful Trip with Your Dog

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 1

Step 1. Make the dog comfortable and safe

Always transport in crash-tested safety equipment such as a carrying bag (small dogs), collar (medium dogs), or a carrying cage (large dogs). This will keep the dog safe, as well as preventing it from distracting you when driving, for example jumping on your lap.

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 2

Step 2. Avoid giving your dog a large meal before travelling

Feeding him 3-4 hours before travel is ideal. If the trip is short, you can also wait until arrival to feed him.

Remember, your dog can get sick even on an empty stomach

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 3

Step 3. Give him several break opportunities

He will need bathroom breaks if the journey is long. You should also bring water and a pot so that he can drink during breaks in the journey.

  • Go out and take your dog to stretch his legs. This helps a lot to improve his nausea or calm his nervousness.
  • Exercising your puppy before long trips will help expend excess energy and keep him quiet during the journey.
Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 4

Step 4. Keep your dog as comfortable as possible

Do not leave the car too hot or smoke during the trip, as this can make even someone who is used to travel sick. You can use pheromones in the car, like an Adaptil collar on your dog. This collar releases hormones that soothe the dog and reduce anxiety, and can also ease the distress caused by being in a vehicle.

Bring something the dog finds comforting, such as a blanket with the scent of the house, or his favorite stuffed toy

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 5

Step 5. Until your dog gets used to traveling by car, take someone with you

The dog can easily distract you during the trip, if it's moving around in the backseat, and if it's moaning or barking. Obviously, any distraction to the driver can be dangerous.

  • If the dog is in the trunk, ask someone to pet him (if possible) from time to time. If that location causes unnecessary stress, get it out of there.
  • Talk to your dog to keep him calm. Use a calm voice and don't show panic or annoyance if he's doing something you don't want. Just keep talking calmly to him.
Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 6

Step 6. Carry a utility bag while traveling

The bag should include treats as a reward, a good, sturdy collar, cold, fresh water and a pot for the dog to drink, one or two toys, and plenty of cleaning supplies such as rags, a cleaning sprayer, bags to collect faeces, etc. Your dog is likely to let a car accident happen in the first few days simply out of nervousness. Long-term damage to your vehicle can be reduced if you have cleaners on hand. Plus, your comfort and that of the dog will continue for the rest of the trip.

Method 2 of 3: Coping With Motion Sickness

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 7

Step 1. Check if your dog suffers from motion sickness

Some dogs feel nervous during car rides because they get seasick. They associate the trip with feeling sick and feeling sick. Recognize signs of seasickness, the most obvious being heavy salivation. Strands of saliva hanging from the dog's lips are a clear indicator of seasickness. Also, each dog acts differently, but some hang their heads with a startled look, others are trying to walk from side to side, and some are moaning.

Dogs suffering from seasickness will need medication to travel well. You will need to talk to your veterinarian about a safe medication to treat nausea. You may need to give your dog medicine every time you go on a long trip, but you may also be able to train him to accept short trips without getting sick

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 8

Step 2. Be prepared in case the dog feels sick

If he vomits, don't raise your voice or fight him. The fact that he's feeling sick isn't his fault. Getting scolded will only increase the dog's apprehension and trauma, which will make him even more anxious.

If you know your dog is often car-sick but needs to take a trip, let your dog sit on an absorbent towel so he can easily clean up the mess

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 9

Step 3. Place the dog in a place in the car where he can see outside

If he can look out the window, it usually helps. If you have a small dog or toy, you can buy a travel bag that will make it taller in the seat in a safe way. That way he'll be able to look outside. For medium dogs, purchase a crash-tested collar and place the dog in the back seat so he can look out. And in the case of big dogs, you can put him in a cage. This way, he will be safe and at the same time he will be able to look out the window.

You can also put a blanket under where your dog will be sitting. This blanket must have been used by the dog regularly, as the scent will be familiar to him

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 10

Step 4. Check with your veterinarian to see if your dog needs medication to prevent nausea

Avoid giving your dog human sickness medications unless you have checked with the veterinarian first. These medications have not been approved for use in dogs, so their side effects have not been fully tested, and the possible reaction in combination with other drugs is unknown. In practical terms, dogs do not metabolize drugs in the same way as humans do, so there is a high possibility that they will have no effect.

The best medication for motion sickness is a prescription medication called Cerenia (maropitant), which is available as an injection (given by the veterinarian) or as a pill. Both forms work for 24 hours. This medicine is superior to others as it acts on the nausea center in the brain and relieves all feelings of nausea and nausea

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 11

Step 5. Consider alternative treatments

Some owners believe it is beneficial to give the dog flower remedies, but this evidence is not scientifically proven. The medicine is liquid and you should put a few drops on the dog's tongue. Flower remedies are dissolved in alcohol. A possible explanation for the benefit of this remedy is the fact that its dose is equivalent to a small alcoholic drink.

Method 3 of 3: Retraining a Nervous Dog

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 12

Step 1. Find out if your dog is simply nervous, not nauseous

Some dogs don't like car travel because they feel fear and anxiety due to a bad experience in the car, such as being in a crash. There is also the possibility that he was hesitant to get into the car because he got too excited and got scolded.

It is extremely important to retrain your dog so that he begins to associate trips with pleasant experiences and sees them as something he enjoys doing

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 13

Step 2. Avoid long trips while retraining

Try to avoid long trips while your dog is being retrained if he hates car travel. Your goal should be to create new car-related associations so that your car will think the car is a great place to be. This process is gradual and cannot be rushed. The process will be slower if you try to rush it.

Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 14

Step 3. Start by exposing your dog to positive experiences in the car

Start with the car parked and turned off. Open a door and put a tasty treat inside. Encourage the dog to jump into the parked car, and if he does, praise him. After that, let the dog out and do something nice with him, like taking him for a walk.

  • Then start feeding your dog inside the parked car. Protect the upholstery with a regular towel or absorbent towel, place the food pot on top, and let the dog get used to eating inside the parked car.
  • You can fill a rubber toy with treats and give it to your dog inside the parked car. Think about the different activities he likes and let him do them inside. It may take weeks or months for the dog to be jumping in the car of its own accord, waiting for the "reward," but eventually he will learn.
Calm a Nervous Dog in the Car Step 15

Step 4. Transition to enjoyable experiences while the car is running and running

Once the dog is comfortable in the parked car, start taking very short trips. Initially, these trips should be limited to just starting the engine, letting it run and turning it off. After that, try leaving the garage and coming back right away.

  • Pump up a quick walk around the block. And then a short drive around the neighborhood.
  • The idea is that adjustments should be gradual, so don't rush the process. Before moving on to the next step, the animal should be completely used to the current one.
  • Include someone on the trip to watch for signs of distress or nausea in the dog, if possible. If this happens, stop the car, take the dog out and let him walk a little so that he feels relieved. Finish the trip and next time don't go so far.
  • For the first few days, try visiting fun places, like a park or a forest, so that the trip will be rewarding in the end.


  • If you have two dogs that are used to each other, try putting them together so they can comfort each other during the trip.
  • In the case of a puppy, on the first few car trips take him to a fun place, like a field or park, instead of taking him to an "unpleasant" place like the vet.

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