Can You Give Your Dog Something to Calm It Down on Car Rides?

by Joe Gordon
Not all dogs are comfortable in the passenger seat.

Not all dogs are comfortable in the passenger seat.

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

When it comes to car travel, not all dogs are able to relax and enjoy the ride. Car anxiety can cause a happy hound to stress out, tense up and sometimes get sick. Fortunately, there are measures you can take and remedies you can offer to your dog friend that may help make her an easy rider.

Give Her Some Reconditioning

Start over and recondition her experience with car travel. Go slow -- baby steps are the only way to change her association, eliminate her fear and alter her behavior in the car.
Start with a parked car and sit with her, comforting her and rewarding her with treats for just a few minutes. Repeat this daily for a few weeks, slowly increasing the pleasant shared time in the car.
When she becomes comfortable sitting next to you in a parked car, move to the next level and drive up and down the driveway for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise for a week or so, calming her, offering praise and treats and observing her reactions. When she seems to respond calmly to the driveway trips, extend the drive to the corner and back. Repeat the corner trips for a while, always offering treats and praise. Extend the pleasant drives in small increments and eventually your actually look forward to her fun, treat-filled auto trips with her you.
Remember to take baby steps -- her car fear is based on experience, and experiences are not easily erased.

Give Her Toys and Comfort

Once the car reconditioning program is underway, include a few of her favorite toys along for the ride. Wrap her up in her blanket and offer her something to chew while on the road (might save your seat belts). Crack the window a bit to allow her to become accustomed to the scents of the road and maybe put on some soothing music to help create a comfortable calm environment. If your dog is crate-trained and the crate fits in your car, you may want to utilize the safe environment of her crate and include it in the car (just don't mount it to the roof).

Give Her Some Exercise and a Massage

As you prepare for a longer trip, take the time to exercise your dog just before leaving. Running, walking or playing will tire her out, allow her to relieve herself and help to unload potential road stress. As an added precautionary measure, you may want to offer your dog a gentle massage using long, firm strokes to help relax her muscles and her mind.

Give Her a Homeopathic Remedy

If you must travel with your pet before she has overcome her fear of cars, there are homeopathic remedies that can help to ease her anxiety without the harmful side-effects of conventional medicines. Available over-the-counter natural stress and anxiety products include Quiet Moments, HomeoPet Anxiety and Be Serene.
Quiet Moments is a calming supplement containing chamomile, thiamine mononitrate, passion flower, l-tryptophan and ginger; HomeoPet Anxiety is a homeopathic stress remedy containing many natural herbal ingredients including chamomilla, borax, cypripedium pub and valeriana; and Be Serene is composed of flower essences that works to control stress and anxiety in pets.
Before administering these or any remedies check with your veterinarian for dosage instructions and guidance on treatment.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

About the Author

Joe Gordon is a writer who divides his time between Tampa Bay, Florida and Western North Carolina. Gordon has been published in local and regional newspapers and magazines, including VisitFlorida.org, "Oceanfront Magazine," "Sarasota Herald Tribune," "The Bradenton Herald," "Sarasota Scene Magazine," " Biz 941 Magazine" and "U Manatee Magazine." He studied journalism at Ohio University.

Trending Dog Behavior Articles

Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!