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Hates Riding In The Car

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My grey Eden passed last September and my mutt Missy had lived with her for 8 years. Around the time that Eden passed our family had a TON of changes fairly close together - all within about 5 months: Eden passing, DH going overseas, I took up running, my cat passed, I was having car troubles so was rotating through a few different vehicles, and then I decided to start fostering little dogs. Mis was SUPER needy and acting out in small ways after Eden passed and so I started taking her to doggy daycare twice a week to see if that would ease her into being an only dog. Then I decided that she might want another dog so I started fostering little dogs which has helped.


I am not planning on getting another dog or fostering for a while after my current gets adopted because I want to spend more one-on-one time with Mis. The issue is that it seems Eden was the calming figure for Mis when we traveled in the car. After Eden passed Mis got stressed in the car and would pant and shake a lot which was totally new but I thought it was just she was lonely. Then I had car problems and went from a 4-door to a Geo Tracker where she was in the back. I figured she might have hated it back there because she didn't have a seat to lean into and it was a rough, loud ride. I got a new car and specifically got a hatchback FOR her but she does the same thing - panting and looking totally miserable no matter if she's in the back or in the front seat with me. I have tried to give her calming chews before we go anywhere but that hasn't helped.


After the foster gets adopted it'll be the first time in my adult life that I've only had one pet. Mis loves to swim and hike and go for walks and to the ocean and I want to experience those things with her but the car rides make her miserable which stresses me out. Is there something I can do or try or a medication or anything that might help? There was one great dog park about an hour away and it seems crappy for her to endure 2 hours of misery for about 40 minutes of fun.



Missing my bridge greys Opal and Eden and cat Bailey. Mom to Missy the Super Mutt and recent foster failure of Miley to mini-mutt.

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Guest ParamagicFF

Do you bring any toys in the car? Or maybe a bed she likes to sleep in? I also have a hatchback and Amber doesn't seem to mind traveling in it. She seems content to stay in the back, or if I lay the seats down and put her bed on them for longer trips. A squeaky toy helps sometimes.

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Ask your vet about a very low dose of trazodone. It is short acting.

Or maybe try feeding her in the car once in a while to make it a "happier" place?


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Drive through that gives treats? That did the trick for Murphy, once he associated the car with fun and food, he decided pretty quickly he liked it.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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If you have the patience for it, you can desensitize and counter-condition her to the car. Start with the car parked at home, and just hang out in the car playing games and giving treats. Macoduck's suggestion to feed meals in the car is a good idea too. Once she's completely relaxed and happy in the car, start the engine, while you're giving treats or feeding her. Then just back down the driveway and come right back. Then just take a quick trip around the block. Gradually increase the length of the ride. How long to stay at each step just depends on her reaction. You want her to be happy and relaxed before taking the next step.

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Guest Memphsmom

Seeing as we travel a lot I try to keep my dogs happy with riding in cars. I have found that it's helpful to periodically take them for just a quick trip for drive-through fast food then stop and eat in a park. I get them each a plain burger, and make the whole trip a treat. One of my boys gets very car sick so its important that he associates going in the car with a great reward. I try and keep these trips short, and when we do take longer trips, we stop about every 1.5 to two hours and let them out for a 15-20 min walk. This is good for my DH as well, his legs get numb and tried from driving to long.

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Guest Amber

My fey doesn't like travelling in the car and like you i went through a patch with a few different cars recently. So now she is tons better and jumps in the boot ok. We still get days when she is reluctant to get in the car or when she seems anxious during drives but overall, much better. So this is what we did that seems to have helped


A month or few weeks of no car rides at all. This happened sort of accidentally when i had no car, but i think it helped a lot for her to forget the nasty associations.


Got car with large, low tailgate, easy for her to jump in


lure her to the car, dropping super duper treats in the ground like a trail (chicken, cheese, ham really good stuff)


gentle but persistent, keep asking, try not to freak her out but keep using the great treats to encourage her, reward lavishly for getting in


always a great trail walk that she loves at the end of the car ride. This will give her good feelings about the car


you could go more slow and just build up the time in the car really gradually, but we all have busy lives and just need to get places. But to keep the trips fairly short ending in a fun walk is good. Also i tried a supplement Calmex that i think helped a bit , didn't use it too long though

Edited by Amber
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