PDSA

My dog gets so excitable in the car that it’s distracting for the driver – and even other road users have commented on it. How can you calm a dog that barks loudly and non-stop on car journeys?

Kirsten Dillon advises…

Car journeys can be overstimulating for some dogs. The flashing by of the scenery, smells coming in through the vents and constant noise simply excites some dogs too much for them to handle it quietly. Plus, if a dog is stressing out the car driver and passengers, he may see this as confirmation of his anxieties.

Dogs can bark through excitement but also through stress or fear, and without seeing your dog, I couldn’t say what his issue is (although I suspect a mixture of all three in different measures).

Dogs can also find the small space of a car restrictive and may pre-emptively bark at potential intruders to back off, so there could be some feelings of being trapped or protectiveness in there too.

I suggest a covered crate in the back of the car, as really all this sensory stimulation is not necessary and certainly not good for him. If he is used to being in a crate, you can put him in with a favourite toy, chew, bone or stuffed Kong and let him self-soothe and settle down.

If he won’t go in a crate, restrict him to the back of the car, using dog guards and a car harness, and use a one-way window covering to prevent him from seeing out.

I also recommend you spray the crate or upholstery with something like Pet Remedy and/or consider using an Adaptil collar – both of which are hugely effective in calming dogs naturally

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