Fear of Cars

FEAR_OF_CARS_FeaturedIf your dog pants, drools, or vomits in the car, it might because he is experiencing motion sickness or is anxious. Your veterinarian can give medication for the sickness, but if your dog continues to exhibit these signs of stress, it could be because he is fearful. If you suspect your dog is having a hard time being in the car, there are things you can do to make the experience more pleasurable for him.

  • Begin by showing your dog that being in the car is a good thing. Walk him at various times during the day to where your car is parked with engine off and either feed him his favorite food in the car or play his favorite game around it.
  • Open the car doors and sit next to him in the car with the door open so that he can choose to leave if he wants. Allowing him the freedom to make choices will help increase his confidence.
  • Give your dog a durable rubber toy filled with food to chew when he is in the car. If he makes the decision to leave, gently take the toy from him and place it in the car again showing him that the car is the place where he gets the good stuff.
  • If your dog is comfortable being in a crate, put one in the car and make a comfy den for him. Allow him the freedom to get in and out when he wants to.
  • When you see your dog is able to relax in the car, have someone switch the car on while you sit with him, but at this stage do not drive anywhere. Comfort him while the engine is running.
  • Start by taking short drives, gradually increasing the distance once he is more comfortable.
  • Make sure the drive always ends in good things, either a walk in the park or back at home. Some dogs are only driven in cars when taken to the veterinarian and they quickly make the connection.
  • Play calming music in the car while the engine is running and you are driving, to promote relaxation.
  • It goes without saying that a dog should never be left alone in a car when it is warm or too cold outside. A car can heat up within minutes in direct sunlight, even on relatively cool days.


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6 thoughts on “Fear of Cars

  1. jude

    i am a trainer but i am at a loss of how to help my dog with her fear/anxiety when it comes to parking the car.she loves getting in & driving. she freaks out when we park, even if it's in my own driveway. She goes crazy!!! high pitch barking & lunging etc. we do have her on a harness. i try and offer food before we park to destract her, but she won't typically take it when we are pulling into "where ever" she is usually to out of it to smell it. i don't know how to help her. any ideas? (btw....we never had a incident that triggered this in her that i can recall.) she is almost 2 & has been doing this well over a year.

  2. Susan

    I have a border collie. He has no problem getting into or out of the car. But he constantly barks for the whole journey. Makes no difference if he is in or out of his crate. He is not interested in food or toys while inside the car. I firmly believe he is too excited to get to where he is going to bother with them. Ive tried to make the car less exciting by bringing him on trips where he doesnt get out and just putting him in for no reason and taking him out again a few mins later but it didnt help. Any ideas?

  3. Gail

    Jude...did you ever try to pull up and then not park and dive away again...doing this a million times until it becomes boring to her??

  4. Lauren Bishop

    I also have a border collie who barks (and bounces) the whole time, crated or not, and just gets hysterical. We've tried everything suggested above and I also remember Miss Stillwell recommending drapes for the windows of the vehicle. Didn't work. The last calm ride he had was 6 years ago when we brought him home for the first time. We have small pick-up trucks that vibrate when running. It's not a smooth ride! When we got him, his previous people slapped a shock collar on him for his barking. Now Harley seems to react to any thing and any sound that vibrates. He gets so upset, we rarely take him anywhere. Just seems like he's going to have a heart attack, he gets so worked up. We've even given him natural-based calmers, which help, but it's so upsetting to see him so upset. All suggestions are welcomed. We want to go for drives, but it doesn't seem fun or right to leave him behind.

  5. Donna

    My dog is fine riding in the car, but when we walk down the street and any vehicle goes by, he hunkers down, then lunges at the car when it goes by. He is 1/2 border collie, and don't know if that may play into it, because once it goes by, he wants to chase it. I have tried a variety of things, treats, hugging him to calm him, and saying "leave it" which he understands, but not much luck with anything. I need help. Also, he is just 10 months old, if that matters.

  6. Sally

    I have this exact same problem with my rescue dog. We got him in 2020 at 10 years old and I don’t think he’d been in a car for years. I have found that beef head skins for him to chew sometimes work especially when he is tired from a walk , but not all the time. Good luck in your quest for a quiet journey!!

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