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How to Help Your Dog Deal With Car Trip Stress

 small dog in car

For many dogs, there’s nothing more exciting than going on a car trip. But for some, time in the car is stressful and difficult. While it’s natural to want to take your dog on vacations, to new locations for hikes and to other exciting destinations, if your dog is stressed by car rides, the experience can be upsetting for you both. 

There are several ways you can help your dog to deal with car trip stress, so car rides become something you both look forward to. 

Gradually Introduce Your Dog to the Car

Start by gradually introducing car rides to your dog. If possible, it’s best to do this when he’s a puppy, so riding in the car becomes second nature. 

Always treat your dog to a play session after he gets out of the car. With time and repetition, he will learn that good things happen after he goes for a car ride. 

When you first introduce the car, have your dog get into it, give him a treat and then take him out again. Gradually increase the amount of time he stays in the car, and then start turning the engine on — if he seems amenable — going for short drives. 

During each car ride, it’s important to praise your dog and keep him as comfortable as possible. Bring along a soft blanket or a dog bed to give your pup a cozy space to relax. Watch him for signs that he’s becoming stressed, like excessive panting or whining. Ideally, keep these rides short so he doesn’t become too stressed before it’s time to get out of the car again. 

Make Car Rides Positive

Take steps to make car rides positive so your dog learns to look forward to them. Start with short rides to a destination that your dog loves, like a beach or a trail for a walk. Always treat your dog to a play session after he gets out of the car. With time and repetition, he will learn that good things happen after he goes for a car ride. 

If your dog has a canine buddy, consider bringing his friend along for a ride to make the event more positive for your dog. A dog that’s naturally relaxed during car rides can help to reassure your dog, and treating the two to a long walk or some playtime can make a car ride even more rewarding and positive. 

Address Motion Sickness

If your dog is dealing with motion sickness, it will be difficult for him to look forward to and enjoy car rides. You may need to experiment with potential solutions, like positioning your dog so he can see out the window during the drive, or not feeding him within a few hours before you go. 

Your vet may also be able to prescribe a medication to help prevent motion sickness. Many dogs outgrow this condition, but finding a solution in the meantime can make car trips easier for you both. 

Support Your Dog With CBD

If car rides stress your dog, you cancalm him with CBD. Zebra CBD Canine Stress & Calming Chews promote balanced behavior and help to manage normal stress in dogs. When you consistently use them daily, your dog should seem more relaxed during car rides, as well as in other stressful situations like trips to the vet. 

Getting your dog comfortable with car trips will take some time and repetition, but you can support him in many ways. As he learns that car trips are usually positive experiences (and they don’t always mean a trip to the vet or groomer), he’ll gradually become more comfortable with the car. In time, he may even look forward to car rides and will happily accompany you on many of your adventures.

About the Author

Paige Cerulli Image

Paige Cerulli

Paige works as a freelance copywriter and content writer. She often covers health, wellness and chronic-pain topics. A lifelong animal lover and equestrian, Paige particularly enjoys writing about pets and horses. You can find her at

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