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What to do if your dog hates riding in the car

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Some dogs love the car, sticking their heads far out the window to feel the wind rushing past. Other dogs, not so much.

This article tells you what to do if your dog hates riding in the car and covers reasons why your dog may not enjoy car rides in addition to various solutions.

Why some dogs don’t like car rides:

There are a variety of reasons your dog may not like riding in the car which fall into two main categories:

  1. It hurts or makes them feel sick

  2. It’s terrifying

Feeling sick in the car:

The motion and vibrations of your car can make your dog feel nauseous. Sounds made by your car can cause headaches. The speed of the view passing by can be disorienting and cause nausea and headache as well.

Solutions to feeling sick in the car:

Once you have an idea of what is making your dog feel sick – and this can take some trial and error – you can minimize the factors that cause these symptoms. You can dull vibrations/motion by buffering your dog in a crate with blankets. You can block your dog’s view of the passing scenery if that’s the issue. As with people, sitting in the front vs back seat can make a difference as well. For severe cases, your vet may be able to offer a medicinal solution.

Feeling afraid in the car:

Your dog may feel afraid instead of or in addition to feeling sick in the car. Sickness itself can cause fear so addressing the one can solve the other. The speed of the passing scenery can also cause fear as can sounds and vibrations made by your car. Your dog may also be afraid of car rides because of negative associations formed by past experiences.

Solutions to feeling afraid in the car:

If illness is causing the fear, address that as noted above to reduce the fear. If it’s the scenery passing too quickly, use the same advice as above by blocking the view. If sound and/or vibration is the problem, cover the car’s sounds with music or buffer your dog from the sounds and vibrations in a crate which you can cover with blankets. Putting blankets beneath the crate can also help with dulling car vibrations.

If the fear is caused by past negative associations, take the time to create new positive associations for your dog. Use treats or toys to show your dog that the car is a fun place to be. Start with short trips with a great destination and include lots of praise and treats.

Some additional notes:

  1. Car sickness is common in puppies and younger dogs who often outgrow it.

  2. Sometimes the model of car and who is driving makes a difference.

  3. Be sure to take your dog to fun places in the car and not just the vet’s office.

Whether your dog loves the car or hates it, be sure to prioritize safety. Use a crate or doggy seatbelt to keep them secure and add your sickness and fear solutions onto that. Try the above suggestions of what to do if your dog hates riding in the car. Figuring out the reason can be helpful but not always possible so don’t get hung up on that aspect. If your dog’s reaction to car rides is extreme, seek the advice of your veterinarian. Think creatively to help your dog feel comfortable and safe during car rides.


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