Dog Freaks Out on Car Rides

Cover the Crate & apply Adaptil Wipes

Our Puggle is 4 years old. She is a fabulous dog . Just one problem. She goes crazy in a vehicle especially when she sees oncoming traffic.  We have done a great deal of travel with her, it never gets easier. We have tried Benadryl to calm her….not!  We have a barrier in the back of the jeep for her, she still jumps around back there and goes crazy.   We tried a crate and she tore out of there.

Dr. Nichol:
Jeepers! I already know why your puggle struggles; facing oncoming traffic I’d be a panicked passenger too! She could close those big eyes of hers or maybe you could just drive on the right side of the road.

There are lots of dogs who wig out in the car. Those with motion sickness may drool and vomit but usually feel much better with Dramamine. Wild barking and climbing of seats and human occupants, on the other hand, suggests barrier frustration. These dogs have an overwhelming requirement to interact with or chase off all those cars and creatures but just can’t get past the #%&@ windows!  It’s annoying, stressful, and dangerous.

Your dog may simply be very frightened. Benadryl can be given for its side effect of sedation but it does nothing to reduce anxiety. A freaked out dog may be sluggish but no calmer. Avoidance of the fear triggers will help.

The back of the car, further from the windshield, is best. Cover the crate with a sheet or towel so your dog can’t see all that weirdness whizzing past. A food toy stuffed with really tasty snacks can redirect your fabulous girl’s attention to the challenge of working loose the goodies. Repeated hundreds of times she may actually look forward to car travel.

Your dog’s history of vehicular misery could make it hard for her to abandon her old fear association. You can set her up for success by applying the calming pheromone Adaptil to the inside of the crate. (Your veterinarian can order Adaptil wipes for you.) For longer trips a medication like trazodone or alprazolam could make a bigger difference. Management of your puggle’s fear can be fine-tuned until she’s an easy rider.