How To Calm A Nervous Dog In The Car (10 Easy Tips)

calm a nervous dog in the car

Does your dog appear to be nervous anytime you take him for a ride in your car? Traveling with an anxious dog can be stressful.

Generally, dogs hate to travel and they become really agitated when they are in a moving vehicle.

There are a number of reasons why a dog may experience car anxiety. It could be because the only time that he gets to ride in your car is during his trips to the vet, which he may not be a fan of.

There is also a possibility that your puppy gets irritated with the sound of the car engine.

Well, here are a few signs that will help you find out if your dog is experiencing car anxiety and how to cure the same.

Beagle dog in the car

What are the signs of dog car anxiety?

You can easily tell when a human is nervous, because you will easily notice the beads of sweat on the forehead and paced up breathing.

Well, dogs do get anxious too but you need to be aware of some of the symptoms that your dog is likely to exhibit.

The signs include:

  1. Panting in the car.
  2. Excessive drooling.
  3. Lip smacking.
  4. Whining.
  5. Irritable.
  6. Restless.
  7. Nauseous.
  8. Aggression in extreme cases.

These are some of the common signs that will reveal to you if your dog is having car anxiety.

Maybe you have ever wondered why your dog shakes in the car or even asked yourself why does my dog pant so much in the car?

Well, now you have known that car anxiety could be the reason.

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How to cure dog anxiety?

There are a number of ways through which you can be able to cure dog car anxiety.

If you suspect that your dog is experiencing car anxiety, you need to make sure that you make him as comfortable as possible.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

A good place to start would be to make sure that your dog gets used to the car. You can do this by taking “practice” rounds in the car.

You don’t really have to go anywhere in particular. The main goal is to make sure that your puppy gets used to the idea of being inside a moving vehicle.

why does my dog pant so much in the car

Make him to be as comfortable as possible. You can get his favorite blanket for instance and allow him to sit or sleep on it in the car.

Make sure that the windows are open so as to allow fresh air into the car. This is particularly helpful if you notice that your dog is panting or even shaking in the car. It is also useful if your puppy is feeling nauseous.

Once your dog gets used to the car, you can now take longer rides so as to help him overcome car anxiety.

2. Use positive reinforcement

Dogs just like children love to be praised for everything they do right. Make sure that you bring along your dog’s favorite treat.

You can place some on his car seat for him to enjoy during the ride. This is an effective way to calm a nervous dog in the car.

You can continue to verbally instruct your puppy to stay put before you proceed to start the car ignition. If your dog remains calm, proceed and employ other safety precautions like ensuring that he is strapped in his dog seat belt.

3. Bring along some interactive dog toys

Dogs are very intelligent animals. They quickly become engrossed in activities that arouse their intellectual curiosity.

Bringing along interactive dog toys is one very effective way that you can use to calm a dog in the car. Make sure that whatever toys you bring along are some of your puppy’s favorite toys.

Dogs, just like children need to be given treats and toys during long car rides so as to make sure they are in their best behavior. This is a sure way of getting rid of any car anxiety that your dog may experience.

4. Use some pheromones and natural scents

The other way that you can effectively calm a nervous dog in the car is by using their sense of scent. According to dog experts, this is one of the best calming techniques you can employ to reduce car anxiety in your dog.

You can ask your vet to recommend some of the effective pheromone sprays and dog collars that can help to calm a nervous dog in the car.

The scent that these dog collars produce is the same as the one emitted by a female dog just after giving birth. This is a good way to make your puppy feel at ease inside a car.

5. Keep your dog restrained

There are some dogs that feel more secure when they are restrained when inside a moving car. You can invest in travel carriers or even a dog crate.

If you decide to put your dog in a crate, you can also put in it some of your dog’s favorite toys and blanket. This is a sure way to calm a nervous dog in the car.

The reason why it is advisable to keep your dog restrained in the car is because a dog that is not restrained may end up being a distraction while you are driving.

If you are alone in the car it may be quite difficult to drive while trying to keep your dog calm during the ride.

why does my dog pant so much in the car

6. Be persistence in your training

You need to be persistent in your training in order to achieve long-lasting results.

When you begin training your dog to get used to being in the car, you need to be consistent in the training. Most pet owners also freak out especially during the first few training sessions when they see their dog agitated or panting out of anxiety.

You need to resist from giving your dog treats to calm anxious behaviors. Once he begins to regress, you need to begin training all over again from the top.

Massive Change - 300 x 250

7. Use medication

There are going to be instances where your furry friend may simply fail to withstand the car anxiety.

You can go ahead and ask your vet to prescribe him some effective medication to help him calm down when in the car.

Drugging your dog might not be the best idea, but it can actually work in helping your dog deal with car anxiety.

After you consult your vet, that is the time you can go ahead and give medication to your puppy to calm him down. Your vet may recommend sedatives if your dog has developed aggression and cannot calm down.

8. Put on some soothing music

Music always has a therapeutic effect on almost everyone, dogs and humans alike. You can play your dog some nice soothing music to calm his car anxiety.

There are a number of good albums that are specifically meant for dogs, get one of those when you plan to go out in your car with your furry friend.

9. Give him a puzzle

Keep your dog distracted using a nice puzzle that they like. This is also an effective way to make sure that your dog remains calm in the car.

You can bring along a number of different puzzles that you know will help to keep him occupied during the entire time you spend on the road.

A good puzzle is likely to keep him calm and occupied while in the car.

10. Tag along an acquaintance

There is always that other person in your home who gets along rather well with your dog.

You can always ask the person to tag along and keep your dog company while you drive. This may greatly help to reduce the car anxiety that your dog may be experiencing.

It is also a good idea to bring on board another person who your dog is used to. This is advisable especially during training to help control your dog as you drive. A nervous dog might be difficult to handle if you are alone in the car.


In conclusion, calming a nervous dog in the car is not a difficult thing to do. You need to be very keen to notice the signs of a troubled and anxious dog.

Unlike humans, a dog will obviously not show any beads of sweat when nervous. However, once you notice that your dog is shaking and appears restless, or he is panting and whining, that should be enough to tell you that your little puppy is feeling nervous.

You can try to overcome this anxiety by letting him get used to the idea of being in a car. Use positive reinforcement when you want to effectively calm a nervous dog in the car.

dog calm around strangers

Carry your dog’s favorite treat and give it to him when he tries to remain calm in the car. Interactive dog toys and puzzles are also a good way to keep him distracted and calm in the car.

Be persistent in your training and your dog will eventually learn to overcome his car anxiety.

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Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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