Helping Your Dog with Fear of the Car

While many dogs will love the prospect of a car ride, some dogs are less than enthralled when you try to coax them into the backseat. There are a number of possible reasons for this and ways you can try to help your dog defeat her anxiety. Your Reynoldsburg veterinarian discusses more below.

Possible Causes

One of the more common reasons dogs don’t like car rides is because the car only ever takes them one place—the vet’s office, where they’re poked and prodded and probed! Other dogs may be fearful of road noise, passing cars and motorcycles, or other noises associated with car rides.

If your dog was previously involved in an accident while riding in a car, the trauma of that event is very likely contributing to her fear now.

A third possible cause is a medical reason. Dogs that suffer motion sickness won’t like car rides, and other possible medical concerns could contribute to their vehicular anxiety.

What to Do

How you’re going to go about treating your dog’s fear of the car depends on what is causing it. First, take your dog to your Reynoldsburg veterinarian to have any medical conditions ruled out. Motion sickness or other medical causes will be treated as necessary.

For dogs that don’t like the car because of an association with the vet’s office, you can condition your dog against it. Coax your dog into the car with treats or toys, then take short rides around the block, talking calmly to your dog as you go. Eventually, start taking your dog to fun places like the park or a public lake. Over time, your dog should start to associate car rides with good things, making that eventual trip to the vet much easier! Ask your veterinarian for more advice on this.

Dogs that are fearful of noise may need professional help. A program of desensitization and counterconditioning may help your dog overcome her fear of loud road noises. The same goes for dogs that were previously involved in an accident—you’ll want to seek the help of a certified animal behaviorist to help your dog become comfortable with cars again. Ask your veterinarian for a referral.

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