Helping Your Dog With Stress In The Car

I’ve had a couple of people contact me recently about their dogs having some difficulty riding in the car, so I wanted to post about it.

The first thing I want to point out is that it is not natural to ride in a car, so it’s understandable that not every dog will automatically love it.

In fact, many dogs actually get car sick, just like humans do, so it’s important to pay very close attention to your dog and monitor everything that is going on to help determine why your dog is so uncomfortable.

For one person, they contacted me saying that their dog was scared of being left in the car alone… but after a couple of questions, I quickly found that her normal routine is to take her dog in the car to a dog park and her dog loved playing with her doggy friends, so we left feeling more like her dog was super excited at the anticipation of an adventure.

I tell you this to remind you to step back and take in all the information available to make an informed decision about what is actually going on with your dog.

Another follower reached out regarding her dog’s anxiety surrounding car rides.

The first thing I want to say about car rides is that we should be taking our dogs for car rides regularly and with varying outcomes. Sometimes we will take a drive around the block. Maybe one day we go through a drive-through. On another day, we take a trip to the park and get to go play. Another day, we may make a visit to the vet’s office (even for a quick walk with your vet tech giving your dog a treat!).

This way, our dog doesn’t begin to associate one thing (and hopefully not one bad thing) with car rides.

Even still, some dogs will have a hard time in the car.

If you feel like it could be car sickness, you can certainly speak with your vet about it, but often times it can be anxiety or pent-up energy.

I worked with a client not too long ago, her dog’s name is Roscoe, and he barked incessantly in the car.

We began training with the 7 Canine Commandments (if you don’t have your copy of the ebook, you can grab it here: http://bit.ly/7stepsdogtraining ) and once we had those in place in the home, we started to tackle the car issue.

For Roscoe, he had a mix of anxiety and pent-up energy going on.

We simply spent some time playing with Roscoe in the backyard and then did an on-leash walk in the backyard with many direction changes.

When we change direction on-leash, our dog has to pay attention to us to know where to go and to understand what is happening. 

We can start out by using yummy treats to get our dogs’ attention to switch directions, but ultimately, we want to be able to move and have our dog move with us without the treat.

After about 15-20 minutes of walking the house and backyard on leash, we went back to the car with Roscoe and he was calm and rather happy with his tail up! No barking! 

I did a lot of work with Roscoe’s mom on her intentions and her energy. The more you anticipate and expect an outcome – the more likely it is to happen that way. 

This is also something I talk about in the ebook (linked above). Reframe your mind, do some interactive training with your dog, and see what a difference it can make!

Of course, there are aids available to help dogs with anxiety and stress, the one I trust and recommend the most is animalEO (specifically for anxiety would be Calm-A-Mile), but also we need to manage our own stress.

Dogs (and cats) take on our stress and anxiety, so self-care, in this instance, is also caring for your pets.

And what kind of coach would I be if I didn’t mention the link between stress and the immune system! About 80% of our immune system is located in the GI tract. And we know through extensive research that stress undermines our immune system, so feeding a fresh, healthy, balanced biologically appropriate, species-specific diet will help bolster your pet’s immune system!