Dog Travel Anxiety

Imagine you are about to go out but you are dreading getting in the car because today, you need to take your dog. You know from past experience that it’s going to be a very unpleasant journey, you know that your dog will make this a memorable trip, for all the wrong reasons.

Dog travel anxiety effects many dogs. It can manifest in many ways; some dogs bark, some dogs whine and whimper, some dogs become over excited and won’t sit still, jumping around the car and all over you and other dogs become physically sick and even vomit in the car.

It can be dangerous, while you are concentrating on what your dog is doing, you are not concentrating on the road. How ever dog car anxiety manifests in your dog, one theme is common, it’s unpleasant for your dog and it’s not enjoyable for you either!

Today we look at some ways that you can minimize your dog’s travel anxiety and reduce the incidence of dog car sickness.

They include:

Exercise to reduce dog travel anxiety.

Diet to reduce dog car sickness.

Changing your attitude.

Desensitization techniques.

Then we look at;

Physical tools for dog car travel.

basset hound leaning out the window of a car


Exercise to Reduce Dog Travel Anxiety.

Exercise is one of the best ways to manage dog car anxiety. Exercise can greatly reduce the dog’s anxiety, especially for those dogs who have a lot of natural energy. Taking your dog for a long and vigorous walk and help to tire your dog, so that when they get into the car they are ready for a rest period.

Diet to Reduce Dog Car Sickness.

Never feed your dog a large amount of food or water just prior to going for a trip in the car. You might think that if your dog has a full belly that they will be more calm and relaxed, but anyone who observes dog behavior will notice that dogs get a burst of energy just after eating.

Depending on the distance you need to travel it might be possible to reduce the amount of food to half normal serving or even skip a meal.

Change Your Attitude to Traveling with your Dog.

You might have often heard, we get what we expect. If you are anxious about taking your dog on car trips your body can expel certain pheromones that will get your dog on edge.

You must always act calmly and confidently when taking your dog into a potentially stressful situation.

If you are upset or anxious they will pick up on this and you have lost control of the situation.

Desensitization Techniques.

If your dog is concerned about getting into the car, you can try some positive re-enforcement methods to help them overcome their fear or anxious feelings.

Guide your dog into the car while in a stationary position with the engine off. As soon as your dog is in the car, praise them and give them affection or a dog treat.

Call the dog out of the car and reward that behavior with a pat. Them get them back into the car and reward with a treat or lots of affection. Each time you put them back in the car extend the period they are in the car.

Try this until your dog is getting into the car by themselves and sits/lays down and is calm before giving the reward. This way you are rewarding good behavior and the behavior you want them to continue.

Next try the same methods with the car stationary but with the engine on (in park with the hand break on). Wait until your dog is comfortable and well behaved in the car before giving a reward.

Next start by moving the car. Only reverse or move forward a few feet in the beginning. Praise your dog when they are behaving appropriately.

Remember, don’t wait until your dog is exhibiting anxious behavior before stopping the car.

Look for signs of anxiety, changes in body language, standing up, sudden movement of the head for example.

If you are the one driving make sure you have a human companion to watch any changes in your dog’s behavior.

Using Physical Tools for Dog Car Travel.

Car Seats for Dogs.

There are a number of tools that you can use to make the car travel with your dog safer and more enjoyable. Dog Car Seats can make your dog feel more secure and some have the option to tether your dog safely to stop them from moving around in the car. Click Here to Learn More about ThunderShirt

Anti Anxiety Dog Coats.

There are anti anxiety dog coats that have worked very well for some dogs, keeping the dog calm while traveling. To learn more about anti anxiety dog coats visit or see my article titled ThunderShirt for Dogs.

There are some suggestions that can help you manage your dog more effectively, reduce dog car sickness and stop dog travel anxiety.


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  1. Your suggestions are all very good, but do take time with a dog that has been anxious for some time. The Thundershirt may be the quickest answer, especially for older dogs. Puppies usually do well with the desensitization tips and short trips to start. I have raised and traveled with dogs for 40 years and have found that each dog with anxiety may respond a little differently. Amazingly most dogs respond well when the Thundershirt is used .

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Dog Travel Pro,

      As I have trained many dogs over the years I find that in most cases the ThunderShirt can have almost instant results. I love the ThunderShirt and advise many clients and readers to try it out.

      The company does off a money back guarantee as well (providing you do not order embroidery on the ThunderShirt).

      There is a place for desensitization techniques as well. You have to know your dog and have established a trusting relationship before trying these methods. Lots of positive re-enforcement can work wonders when applied correctly.

  2. Great advice ! We never seemed to have problems with our dogs in the car, but have friends who do, so will pass on this info.
    Harry Lynn recently posted..Tribute to Peter “Rusty” McLeod Part 3My Profile

  3. I love how people travel with dogs in cars (and motorhomes!) but what I dont like is when they leave the dog in the car, with only the windows open a little bit – and then go shopping. Especially on a very hot day!

    Very good tips about not feeding a dog before a car trip – and how to get them used to travelling!

    Lisa Wood recently posted..Sharing My Favorite Schweppes CocktailMy Profile

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      I agree Lisa,

      Leaving a dog in a car can potentially be a death sentence. I once rescued a dog in that situation. It was at a shopping center, very hot outside – no windows open – and the golden Labrador dog was showing signs of extreme heat exhaustion.

      After trying to page the owner of the car and dog from center management office PA system, I called the RSPCA and got their permission to break the car window and get the dog out. I got a mechanic close by to shatter the window. The poor dog was suffering from dehydration. It only took ten minutes to get the dog out from first discovering him – but it seemed like and eternity.

      The owner was not happy about the damage to the car and especially not happy when the RSPCA showed up.

      Did I get sworn at? – Yes, a lot!!
      Would I do it again? – Yes, in a heartbeat!!

      People have no right to be cruel to animals – it something I will never tolerate!

  4. Our dog suffers from dog anxiety travel. She loves getting into the car but once there she cowers and dribbles. We never feed her before going on a trip so she doesn’t normally vomit which is good. We always put the air conditioner on her as well to give her plenty of air while travelling.
    Jackie Stenhouse recently posted..Thanksgiving Sugar CookiesMy Profile

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for your Comment. Dog Travel Anxiety is very common and it sounds like you are doing everything possible to make it comfortable for your dog.

      The only suggestion I have is to try the ThunderShirt to make traveling a even more comfortable for your dog.

  5. Some excellent ideas there. The desensitization ideas seem really practical to me but make take some time and patience. I hadn’t heard of the Thundershirt before and that seems amazing. i wonder if there is one for cats?

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Jenny,

      I’m not aware of a thundershirt for cats – maybe that is an idea for the future!!

      It stands to reason that if the thundershirt for dogs works on the central nervous system to calm the dog – the same might apply to cats.

      Thanks for your comment on Dog Travel Anxiety.

  6. I am lucky all our dogs love the car. However, it would be hard if the dogs were scared of the car , they would miss out on so much. The thundershirt looks like a great idea, for different types of dog anxiety.

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Thanks for your comment Kerry,

      The thundershirt helps calm the dog’s central nervous system and they are used by many vets in their surgeries to put on dogs after surgical procedures.

      With use from many vets is truly a great endorsement for the effectiveness of this product.

      I’m glad your dogs don’t suffer from dog travel anxiety.

  7. Great tips on dealing with dog travel anxiety, I have had a dog before that had it, and it is the worst thing! Desensitization is very effective!

  8. We have 2 little dogs Oscar who loves the car and travels well and Penny who is not so good ,
    what we do is start out and about 10 minutes later we stop and let them both out on a lead for just a few minutes.
    After that Penny will settle down and mostly we have no more “dog travel anxiety”
    Rita recently posted..Simple Steps To Dog TrainingMy Profile

  9. Great tips and advice! It would help alot as I currently have a dog that is so afraid of going outdoors. It would not even leave the house gate into the gardens. Each time I bring it out for a walk or for a ride in the car, It would shiver and excrete because it is afraid. Hopefully this article would help me. Thank you!

    Wilson recently posted..Occasion Wear For WeddingsMy Profile

  10. This is really useful information on dealing with dog travel anxiety. I wish I’d had this when I was younger :).

    When I was growing up, we had a beautiful dalmatian who would howl when traveling in the car. It really put us off taking him out with us. My only solution was to give him a big hug.
    Mood Disorders recently posted..Holistic Help for Separation Anxiety DisorderMy Profile

  11. Definitely a good idea having dog car seats when travelling around with our beloved pooch!
    Sean McLaughlin recently posted..Investment Property TasmaniaMy Profile

  12. Hi There! I absolutely love the idea of this product, but i have a few questions.
    1. I have a golden retriever that gets hot easily, how thick and warm is it?
    2. My dog gets car and plane sick, do you think this would help on the ride?

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Megan,

      The Thundershirt I have is made of a sturdy material and for this reason I don’t tend to use it on really hot days unless absolutely necessary. The people at thundershirt suggest that your dog has access to plenty of water because dogs cool themselves by panting and excessive panting can make them thirsty.

      As for the traveling question, if you dog gets car sick because of anxiety then the thundershirt will definitely help reduce their anxious feelings.

      My best advice to you is that the thundershirt can’t hurt your dog and trying something new that can answer your problems is always a good idea. If it doesn’t work for you, you can send it back for a refund. Just make sure that you don’t get your thundershirt personalized, for example, adding embroidery of your dogs name when ordering because you can not return it if it has been personalized.

  13. Dog care has certainly come a long way, I had a cockerspaniel cross blueheeler when I was a young lad. Peter always came with us to the beach, times were different then, a lot slower with less traffic, great article with lots of tips on how to look after your dog.
    Keith Westhead recently posted..Blogging Platforms To Watch Out ForMy Profile

  14. I really liked your point about “Change Your Attitude to Traveling with your Dog.” All too often we overlook how sensitive our dogs are to our moods, if we get stressed out before traveling chances are our dog is going to pick up on that.

    Stay calm and your dog will follow 😉

  15. These are good tips. I always like to take the dog for a long walk to get him all tired out before going in the car. Then he will sit still

  16. Such a great yet interesting post. Thank you very much for sharing this helpful stuff.