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

August 10, 2010 | By Clnkm22 | 9 answers | Expired: 1489 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!

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Ruth R.
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Aug 21, 2010

First, baby aspirin can be harmful to your dog (or cat). Benadryl, while calming, can have other unintended side effects if used routinely. I second the suggestions of desensitizing your dog; it's the only thing that will work and not cause other problems. This will take some time, but it's well worth the effort. You may have to work it slowly by just walking your dog to the car, having him/her sit by the car, then going back into the house and gradually working up to having him/her in the car.. Often our dogs pick up on our own anxiety when we dread taking them in the car, so take it slow.

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Julie H.
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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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Kavykeeper
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Aug 17, 2010

Have someone else in the car with you for short rides and offer her treats when she behaves. Maybe some positive reinforcement might work.

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Idaviruma
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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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Jessica D.
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Aug 13, 2010

I've had a similar prob with my collie, though from the way you describe, not as bad. First, get your dog used to being in a non moving car. I took 2 weeks just making him lay in the back of the car for awhile everyday, at first with the door open, then eventually with it closed, though you may need to run the ac for him. It also helps if you have a place to hook a leash to. He got the idea that there wasn't anything to be scared of. Then I just started taking him for very short rides, about 5-10 min, letting him get used to the feel of the moving car. As he started to calm down, I slowly extended the time. If you can take him somewhere that he loves to go, like a beach or dog park for example, it shows that a car ride means a good thing, and he'll actually look forward to it like my dobermanns used to.
The longest my collie has ever been in a car is about 30 min., just on trips to the vet. Though he still whines at being confined, either that or it's cause he knows he's going to the vet, but he know longer howls, drools excessively, and scratches at the door and windows. I really hope this can help you, i know it takes some time, but it's the only solution I found that worked for me. Good luck!

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shelby r.
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Aug 12, 2010

put a creat in and see if she will calm down.if that dosent work put in a dog bed with high sides. she sound like she gets anxcious becouse she dose not have a stable place to laydown.

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daryl b.
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Aug 12, 2010

is your dog young if so maybe he will get used to it. if he stays that way why take him in the car unless he has to go to the vet. he will beginto think it is punishment

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maddi g.
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Aug 10, 2010

try playing some relaxing music while she is in the car. also, stay away from the benydrol and baby asprin, it could be very bad for her if she has too much. if relaxing music doesn't help, you could try some puppy sleeping pills or maybe a toy or two to play with during the ride. hope it helps!

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Stephanie
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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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