Tips to Cure My Dog's Phobia of Cars

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. May 23, 2017
Tips to Cure My Dog's Phobia of Cars

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For some people, travelling by car is an integral part of their daily routine. So, we must accustom our dog to this properly, in order to continue life as normal. It is vital to ensure that travelling with pets is not a problem. But what happens if your dog cries in the car or is too scared to get into it?

In this AnimalWised article we will give you some tips to cure your dog's phobia of cars. These will help you prepare for travelling with your pet and prevent car journeys being a negative experience for both of you. So, when you have to go to the vet or want to take a ride in the countryside, you will know how to calm your dog down.

You may also be interested in: Tips to Teach your Dog to Wear a Collar and Lead

Travelling with a puppy

For a dog to not be afraid of travelling by car, it is necessary to accustom them from a young age. It is important for them to become familiar with their surroundings and see it as part of their daily life. An adult dog that has never traveled by car will be more prone to having a car phobia than one that is already used to it.

To socialize a puppy with their environment it is advisable to undergo journeys of different lengths and types, either to a relatives home, the park, the mountains, etc.

Begin by making short trips (at first, trips cannot exceed 10 minutes) and then increase the duration. Once you realize that your dog is comfortable and quiet, that is it! With adult dogs use the same technique - progressively increase the duration of the trip. Obviously we find it much easier to teach a puppy than an adult dog, just like basic commands in training. Still, we must not lose patience and perseverance and always use positive reinforcement.

Tips to Cure My Dog's Phobia of Cars - Travelling with a puppy

Positive experience

To prevent anxiety in the car, it is necessary to ensure the moment is a positive experience for your dog. Besides rewarding them with treats every time they go into a car without assistance, let them play with their favorite stuffed animal. It is important to not only use the car to take the dog to the vet. This will make your dog associate the car with a negative experience. Making it even easier for them to develop car phobia.

Therefore, it is advisable to take the dog with the car to the park, the countryside or anywhere else that is pleasant for the dog. So, they can associate the car with a joyous and quiet time and know that getting in the car does not mean that something bad will happen. A good way to provide a positive experience and reassure your dog, is to walk them before and after the trip.

Thus, besides having burnt off energy before the trip so that they remain quieter, they will know that after the journey they will get a good walk. This is something they love and that further predisposes them to not having a phobia of the car.

Attitude of fellow travelers

The behavior we have when we travel will completely determine the attitude of our pet so it is vital to be in a good mood.

Act calm and normal for your dog to note our mood and mimic it. If we are nervous, anxious, angry or upset because the dog does not want to get into the car, this will rub off on them. They will believe there is danger and they should be tense.

To prevent your dog from suffering with anxiety, reward them with a treat or a good dose of affection when they get in the car. Especially if they go in by them-self. During the trip maintain a quiet and calm attitude, just as if we were at home. We can even sit beside them and stroke them to convey calmness. At the end of the trip you should again reward them with a good dose of caresses, games or some treats, so the dog knows how well they have behaved in the car.

If for whatever reason the dog is anxious and starts to become nervous in the car, we will have to avoid comforting and caressing them. Then we will be reinforcing that attitude instead of having them understand that it is not right. The dog will think that this behavior is the right one for travel and is fine with us.

Tips to Cure My Dog's Phobia of Cars - Attitude of fellow travelers

What if the problem is dizziness?

Perhaps the main reason that your dog has a phobia of cars is that they get dizzy. Unknown noises, the movement of the vehicle and getting out of their comfort zone can cause anxiety and anguish in our animal. This is not because they do not like the vehicle itself or the destination, but because it is a very negative and unpleasant experience.

To prevent the dog getting dizzy in the car, especially if the journey is long, do not feed them for approximately two or three hours before the journey. Stop at least every one or two hours for the dog to stretch their legs, do their needs and hydrate with water.

If this does not work and the dog continues getting dizzy, then turn to your trusted vet so he or she can prescribe motion sickness pills. These pills will help reassure your dog during the trip and so will prevent them and you from having a hard time.

Prepare your car for your dog

One of the essential measures to avoid your dog having a phobia of cars and to travel safely with us, is to properly prepare the vehicle for every trip. If you are driving, you and your pup should be physically separated by a barrier, so they cannot distract you or cause an accident.

If your dog is big, you should install a mesh separator that divides the front and rear of the car. Then use a special harness (like our seat belt) so that they don't move too much during the journey. Always place a blanket or cloth on the seats so that they are comfortable and can stretch out and sleep when they want to - also to avoid mess in our car! If your dog is smaller, take them in an approved transporter that will prevent them moving too much during the trip - and to avoid dizziness.

Tips to Cure My Dog's Phobia of Cars - Prepare your car for your dog

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