Traveling with a dog in the car can add a layer of complexity to the journey. If the dog starts barking, it can distract the driver and cause stress, potentially affecting driving safety. Additionally, the noise can lead to discomfort or anxiety for all passengers. It’s recommended to keep your dog calm and occupied during the ride to ensure a smooth journey.
This article explains why a dog barks excessively during car rides and what you can do to stop him from barking.
Common Reasons a Dog Barks Excessively During Car Rides
Fear or Anxiety
Dogs may feel scared or anxious in a moving vehicle, as it changes their environment. The motion, the engine’s noise, or the sensation of being in a moving object can be stressful. For example, a dog who only travels in the car for vet visits may associate the car with a negative experience and bark as a response.
Just as humans express excitement verbally, dogs might bark out of sheer joy. This could be because they associate car rides with fun experiences like going to the park or visiting friends. For instance, a dog that regularly goes hiking with their owner might start barking out of excitement as soon as the car starts moving.
Some dogs bark to get their owner’s attention. They might be bored, want to play, or need a bathroom break. If a dog starts barking during a long car ride, they might be trying to communicate their needs to their owner.
Just like people, dogs can also suffer from motion sickness, making them uncomfortable. A dog that starts to bark or whine during a car ride may be experiencing nausea.
Dogs may bark at things they see out the window, like other animals, people, or moving vehicles. This can be due to their instinctive territorial behavior or predatory drive. For instance, a dog might bark at a passing cyclist or another dog walking on the sidewalk.
If a dog is always used to being with its owner, being confined to the back seat or a crate during a car ride can lead to barking due to separation anxiety. The dog might not understand why they can’t sit with their owner and start barking.
Lack of Training
Dogs that are not accustomed or trained to travel in a car can bark due to the unfamiliarity of the situation. This barking could be due to the unfamiliar sounds, vibrations, and sights. Training and positive reinforcement can help reduce this kind of barking.
Type of Breed
Certain breeds are known for their vocal behavior, and these dogs may bark more in a car ride simply because it’s in their nature. For example, breeds such as Beagles, Terriers, and Dachshunds are known for their tendency to bark. However, this does not mean all dogs of these breeds will bark excessively; it’s just a more common trait. Understanding your dog’s breed and its traits can help manage their behavior.
Also known as barrier aggression, some dogs can become frustrated when confined or restrained. When in a car, a dog might not understand why it can’t move freely, resulting in barking out of frustration. For example, a dog used to exploring their surroundings might bark continuously if confined to a crate or car seat during a journey.
Dehydration & Heat
Dogs can’t sweat like humans, and cars can quickly become hot and uncomfortable, especially on warm days. If a dog is thirsty, overheated, or dehydrated, they might start barking to communicate discomfort. For instance, a dog in a car without proper ventilation or water access might bark continuously out of discomfort or distress. It’s crucial to always provide your dog with fresh water and ensure the car is at a comfortable temperature.
Tips to Control Your Dog’s Excessive Barking in Car
Familiarize with Car Rides
Start by taking your dog on short, pleasant car rides to familiarize them with the experience. Slowly increase the duration of the trips. For example, drive around your neighborhood initially and slowly progress to longer distances. The goal is to make your dog understand that car rides can be a positive experience.
Use a Calming Dog Bed or Blanket
A comfortable and familiar environment can help your dog feel safe during the car ride. Bring their favorite blanket or a calming dog bed to sit or lie on. The familiar scent and comfort can help reduce their anxiety and barking.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Reward your dog for good behavior during the ride. Give them treats and praises when they’re calm and quiet. For instance, if your dog remains quiet for a certain duration, offer them a treat as a reward.
Keep them Occupied
Provide toys or chewables your dog enjoys to keep them occupied during the ride. This distraction can help reduce barking triggered by boredom or the sight of passing objects or animals.
Train your dog to respond to quiet commands. Regular training sessions before the trip can help your dog understand what is expected of them. For example, teach them the ‘quiet’ or ‘enough’ command and use it when they start barking.
Use a Pet Barrier
If your dog gets excited by visual stimuli outside the window, use a pet barrier or cover the windows to limit their view. This can help reduce barking triggered by other animals, people, or moving vehicles.
Keep the Car Cool and Hydrated
Ensure your car is at a comfortable temperature, and always provide your dog with fresh water. A hydrated and cool dog is less likely to bark out of discomfort.
Consider Anxiety Wraps
Anxiety wraps, or pressure vests can help soothe anxious dogs by providing constant, gentle pressure. It works similarly to swaddling a baby and can be especially helpful for dogs anxious during car rides.
During long car rides, take frequent breaks to let your dog stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and relieve themselves. This can help manage barking due to restlessness or discomfort.
A crate is a box-type enclosure that can be a safe and comfortable place for your dog. It is particularly helpful when traveling as it can provide a familiar space for your dog, thereby reducing stress and anxiety. Moreover, a crate can keep the dog secure during the ride, preventing them from moving around too much, which can lead to car sickness or injury. However, it’s essential to properly acclimate your dog to the crate before using it for travel, and it should never be used as a form of punishment.
Anti-bark devices are tools to interrupt or deter a dog’s excessive barking. They work by emitting a sound, vibration, or mild shock triggered by the dog’s barking. These devices can help train a dog not to bark excessively, including during car rides. However, these should be used as a last resort and under the guidance of a professional dog trainer, as they can potentially cause fear or stress in dogs if used incorrectly.
Consult a Veterinarian
If excessive barking continues despite your best efforts, it’s recommended to consult a veterinarian. They may suggest behavior therapy or, in some cases, prescribe medication to help manage severe anxiety in dogs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can yelling at my dog help control excessive barking during a car ride?
Yelling at your dog is not advisable, as it can escalate their anxiety or excitement and may lead to more barking. Instead, use calm, assertive commands and positive reinforcement to guide their behavior.
Why does my dog whine in the car?
Your dog may whine in the car due to anxiety, motion sickness, or discomfort. They could also express excitement or impatience, especially when associating car rides with enjoyable experiences like visiting a park.
Why does my dog get aggressive in the car?
Aggression in the car can result from fear, stress, or overprotectiveness. Some dogs may feel trapped and react defensively. In other cases, they may display barrier frustration or react to sights outside the car.
How to stop my dog from barking at other dogs in the car?
You can manage this by limiting their view with a window shade or pet barrier. Training your dog to respond to commands like “quiet” or “enough” can also help. Reward calm behavior to reinforce it.
Can I keep my dog unleashed in the car?
Keeping your dog unleashed in the car is not recommended for safety reasons. In sudden stops or accidents, an unrestrained dog can be seriously injured. Use a car harness, crate, or barrier to keep them safe.
How can I combat car anxiety in my dog?
Gradual acclimation to car rides can help reduce anxiety. Start with short rides and slowly increase the duration. Comfort items like their favorite blanket or toys can also provide comfort. In severe cases, consult with a vet or a professional trainer.
How can I deal with barrier frustration in my dog?
Training and positive reinforcement can help manage barrier frustration. Encourage and reward calm behavior. Consult a professional trainer who can provide structured behavior modification strategies for severe cases.
How to deal with an over-excited dog in the car?
Teaching and reinforcing calm behavior is key. Use positive reinforcement to reward quiet and calm behavior. Keeping your dog occupied with toys or chewables can also help. In some cases, regular exercise before the car ride can help expend their energy and make them more relaxed during the journey.