Q: How do I get my dog to calm down in the car?

August 10, 2010 | By Clnkm22 | 9 answers | Expired: 1992 days ago

I have a 5 year old catahoula mix. She goes completely crazy in car rides, she wines, barks tries to jump through the windows at bridges, signs, passing vehicles, etc. I've tried giving her benadryl, some calming treats i bought at petsmart, baby aspirin. I try taking her on walks first. Everything i can think of, and nothing has worked. I'm getting very frustrated with this, and don't know what to do. If anyone has any suggestions, please help!

Readers' Answers (9)

Aug 10, 2010

My American Eskimo is very anxious in the car too, Benadryl helps but is just not enough for him. I'm sorry for your situation because I can relate.
I don't know what kind of vehicle you have, but perhaps, if it would fit, putting your dog in a crate in the car would help. She wouldn't be able to see the landmarks flying by and may not feel so enticed to jump or bark at them. Dogs usually bark at things that make them feel uncomfortable as a way of alerting others (though they also will bark when they're really excited/happy). I'm curious if your dog hates car rides and is going crazy to make it stop or if she loves them so much that she can't contain herself.
How much Benadryl are you giving? Maybe you could up her dose and that might have a more desirable effect; the dose is recommended of 1 mg per pound of your pet's weight.
Talk to your vet about prescription sedatives to use when you're going to take her on long car rides, they work well in most situations as they're more "heavy-duty" and your vet can help you find the right medicine for your dog.
Also, I would not recommend giving her baby aspirin anymore because it shouldn't have any effect on her behavior as it is a pain reliever, blood thinner, and fever reducer...not a sedative or medication known for causing drowsiness. Sorry.
Good luck,
--veterinary technician

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Aug 16, 2010

It sounds like your dog gets overwhelmed with sights/sounds. Is she crate trained? if so, crate her while in the car, if it fits, slowly build up positive association with going into the car/crate by placing treats inside until the dog willigly goes by itself. During the drive, make sure the crate is secure and i would reccomend putting a cover over it to calm the dog down and avert her attention from outside distractions.

my dog used to hate getting into cars, until we started going to the dog park, now everytime he sees the door open, he just hops in. I dont crate him, but use a seatbelt instead, it keeps him in one place, but I also have tinted windows, so he doesent get agitated by outside activities.

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Julie H.

Aug 19, 2010

First off, I'd say that drugging doesn't calm your dog down it just makes them unaware and there can be side effects.

I'd suggest crating your dog while you travel but start taking very short trips. In fact you can start by just putting your dog in the car and then taking them out in a few seconds. From there you might crate them and then just drive down the driveway and back up. Then crate them for trips to the store or post office. Clearly keep in mind the weather and how safe it is for your dog to remain in the car while you are running your errands in the store (heat is a greater issue than cold typically). Gradually build it up although you will find that your dog will typically have less issue with car sickness on rides that are long and relatively straight (highways) than on the stop, go and turns of in town.

You want to desensitize and help them become familiar with how neutral it really is. Perhaps your dog associates it with something like always going to the vet or getting car sick. It can be more difficult to address these issues with an older dog but not impossible.

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