As a pet parent, you have a bucket list of activities you can’t wait to experience with your best friend.
You want to bring him to the beach. Go for weekend hikes together. And take Fido on the road trip of a lifetime!
But like any good story, there’s a plot twist: Dog car anxiety.
So, what is dog car anxiety?
Dog car anxiety is the unease—nervousness—dogs feel in and around cars.
Sometimes, sounds, sensations, and fears linked to the moving vehicle cause agitation.
Things like speed, him sliding around and falling off the backseat, or the blare of car horns in traffic.
It could also be the fear of the unknown.
While in other cases, anxiety kicks in when your pet anticipates an unpleasant situation associated with car rides. For example: Driving to the vet for his shots.
What are common dog car anxiety symptoms?
You know your dog is afraid of car rides when he:
- Starts drooling like a leaky faucet
- Panting (abnormally) heavily
- Paws on or lunges at the window
- Whimpers or trembles in fear
Other signs of dog travel anxiety include:
- The so-called anxious yawn combined with dilated pupils
- Seat scratching
- Attempts to climb over the centre console to get to you
- An outright refusal to budge
In the worst-case scenario, Fido might even pee or vomit in the car. Oh no…!
Wondering how to calm a dog with car anxiety? Here’s our tried-and-true formula for success.
Responsible pet parenting requires learning all about safe dog car travel.
That means pet-proofing your vehicle and knowing how to manage dog travel anxiety like a pro.
Here’s how to stop dog car anxiety once and for all.
Desensitise your dog.
Conquer anxiety by building your pet’s confidence through consistent exposure.
Go slow, starting with low-intensity stimuli and work your way up until you get to the real deal.
For example: Start by regularly walking your puppy to the car. Next, let him sniff around and sit in a stationary vehicle.
Once he’s comfortable with that, you acquaint him with typical car sounds like the engine starting and doors shutting.
With that accomplished, you try a short drive in and out of the garage. Finally, go for a ride around the neighbourhood—and beyond! (A whole new world... 🎵)
Desensitisation training takes time, patience, consistency, and generous rewards throughout the process.
Turn car rides into a positive experience.
This step is about counter-conditioning a dog afraid of car rides.
You want to create positive associations so that your dog learns car = good times ahead.
How do you do that?
- Help him relax in the car by praising him and giving reassuring rubs.
- Reward appropriate behaviour with special treats reserved specifically for car training.
- Link going for a drive with fun experiences like off-leash time at the dog park. Car rides should NOT signal vet time!
Make dog car travel safe and comfy with protective gear.
Driving with an anxious dog can be dangerous.
Your pet’s sudden movements, climbing onto your lap, and wanting to be co-pilot may lead to road accidents.
That’s why it’s essential to equip your car with precautionary gear like the Grubby Paw Throw Blanket.
Why is the calming feature so important?
- For safety: A calm dog is less likely to distract you and create hazardous scenarios.
- No physical damage: A relaxed dog is chilling in the backseat; he doesn’t scratch and make a mess everywhere.
- Prevents dog car anxiety: The faux fur lining of this waterproof throw blanket for dogs is a throwback to the time your doggy curled up with his mother as a pup. It provides warmth, comfort, and security—the perfect remedy for a nervous system in overdrive.
In short, a calming dog blanket solves three challenges in one fell swoop. Guess what? You just might be able to go on that epic road trip after all!