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  • Writer's pictureC.B. Fosbrink

A Dog's Fascination With Car Rides

If you have a dog, you know that anytime you say the word “car ride”, your best pal might start jumping for joy. It reminds me of the movie “The Secret Life of Pets 2” where both Max and Duke love sticking their heads out of the window as you can clearly see the joy they possess. There hasn’t been a lot of research on why dogs enjoy car rides, obviously since…well…dogs can’t talk, but, according to, dog owners have shared their experiences on why dogs enter a blissful state when they know they are going for a ride.

Just as humans, dogs need to get out and run and experience life, especially since we are still in the midst of a pandemic. It’s a healthy exercise, the enjoyment of something new, or perhaps offers incentives, such as doggy ice cream cones. Of course, there are pups that are nervous, scared, or have anxiety about cars, however, let’s first look at some reasons why dogs are generally excited to take a freedom ride. Then, how we can calm down your furry friend to help make car rides a safe space.

Car rides feel like they are hunting

Dogs have a keen hunting sense, it’s their instinct to chase a bunny or try and catch a bird. The forward motion of the car makes dogs feel like they are on a hunting trip, searching in the wild for prey. Their predatory impulses kick in!

They love the smells

A dog’s sense of smell is so strong that it is a tactic for dogs to survive in the wild. They can sniff out a person, each other and they can even smell human emotions. It’s part of the reason why dogs and owners create bonds as your dog can smell your scent. It’s no wonder that in a car, with the windows down, that their sensory organs intensify.

They know they are going to go see someone special

Car rides can be a trigger for your dog, especially when they know a visit is in store. They might associate the car ride with a special place or special person! This can be true if you are putting on a certain harness or using a certain leash, which signals where the car ride might be going. If you were going on a visit, wouldn’t you be excited?

Let’s say that your pup is anxious with car rides, how can pet owners calm the fears to make the trip more enjoyable?

  1. Make sure your dog is comfortable. Are they in a comfortable harness, are they laying on a mat in the car, do they have toys waiting for them? Anything that can help remind them of home helps.

  2. Watch how much you feed your dog. Anxious dogs who have a full stomach might have a welcomed reflex situation in your car. But make sure they have something in their stomach to lessen the sick tummy feeling.

It might take baby steps until your dog becomes comfortable riding in a car but take it a step at a time, trying not to overwhelm your bestie and make the most of your car trips. We hope this helps!


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All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.





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