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4 Ways To Help A Dog With Car Anxiety

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on May 19, 2023

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Being out and about with your dog is one of the many joys of having a canine companion. Whether it’s a trip to the vet or a new walk adventure slightly further afield, the chances of needing to travel by car are more than likely. 

If your dog has travel anxiety, it can be upsetting to see them feeling uneasy during a journey. While many dogs will love travelling by car, others can find the trip overwhelming. This could either result in them feeling overly excited or anxious.

What can cause a dog’s travel anxiety?

It may just be that your dog relates the feeling of nausea with car travel. And over time, this car sickness can naturally cause them to build a negative relationship with this situation. It could also be that they have developed a negative association with a place you have taken them to in the past. 


Take the vets for example. If your only recent car journeys have been when you were taking your dog to the vet and they didn’t enjoy the experience, that could cause them to associate this with going in the car. If you suspect this could be the prime suspect for your dog’s car anxiety, the best thing to do is tackle the issue! Visiting a dog-friendly vet practice can help to make them happier before and after their visits.

We shouldn’t discount as humans however, the sensory overloads that can occur for our dogs when travelling alongside us. The sheer movement, sounds and sights from being in a car could very well be the cause of your dog’s travel anxiety.

4 Ways to help your dog’s travel anxiety

1. Comfort over fashion

When travelling with an anxious dog, you should always aim to make the journey as comfortable for them as possible. Keep their favourite toy on standby or create a comfy and secure area for them. Be sure to use bedding that has a familiar scent and that they are restrained properly. With car journeys being turbulent at times, proper restraint will stop from them slipping or losing balance when the car moves.

We can all get a little carried away sometimes when it comes to buying a bed for our pups. But it’s important to opt for a bed or bedding that is comfortable and not just chosen for the aesthetics.  


2. ADAPTIL Transport Spray

ADAPTIL Transport is a calming spray for dogs made with appeasing pheromones. In short, these are natural, calming messages that replicate the pheromones given off by a mother dog after birth, and that comfort and support her puppies. Easy to use, ADAPTIL Transport Spray can be applied to bedding or the car interior. You should do this 15 minutes before you’re about to travel with your dog. This will give the carrier enough time to evaporate and leave the non-smelling pheromone.

Check out one of our other blogs to find out how ADAPTIL Transport works and when’s best to use it


3. ThunderShirt calming vest for dogs

If you haven’t already, another way you can help a dog with travel anxiety is by trying a ThunderShirt Calming Wrap. This works in a similar way to how swaddling soothes a baby, only more advanced. This calming vest for dogs applies a stable and gentle pressure around your dog’s torso to help them feel at ease in stressful situations. So, if your dog has car anxiety, then a calming vest is definitely worth testing out! If your dog is happy travelling thanks to ThunderShirt, post a picture on social media with the tag #thankyouthundershirt!


4. Try playing music

Consider the sort of music to play on your journeys. Be mindful that although rock music could be your thing, it may not be the type of music that relaxes a dog. Classical music, soft rock or even reggae can be great alternatives to help set a soothing scene.

We have our own calming playlist for dogs that you can find here.

Travelling with an anxious dog can often make the driver feel anxious too. So, we want to keep our puppies, dogs and pet parents safe!

Always seek veterinary advice

As always, speak to your vet about your dog’s car anxiety. It could be that there are underlying health problems that are impacting them too. For example, sore joints that are affected when trying to keep stable in a car. After ruling out any health issues, an accredited canine behaviourist can help with offering support and specialised guidance for treating your dog’s travel anxiety. Having a set routine that’s specifically designed for your dog’s response to car journeys, combined with our tips above should help tackle the problem. Resulting in a cool, calm and collected pup! Find more training tips for car travel here.


ADAPTIL Transport Spray

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

Make sure to join our community for weekly advice from our dog behaviour experts as well as product offers and competitions. 

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