Does your dog get upset, whine and cry when you take them in the car?
Would you like to know why they do this? And how to stop them from doing so?
We will answer these questions in this post. So let’s jump into the details.
Why Do Dogs Whine and Cry When in the Car?
Dogs cry in the car because they are stressed or scared.
The cause of the fear or stress can be general anxiety around traveling in cars or something more specific such as travel sickness or a negative association with a particular journey, such as going to the vet.
Here is a list of some of the common causes of dogs crying when being driven in a car:
- General Anxiety
- Travel Sickness
- Negative Associations
- Erratic Driving
- Your Mood Affects Their Mood
Let’s look at each of these in more detail and see if it could affect your pet dog.
1. General Anxiety
Some dogs suffer from higher levels of anxiety than others.
Just being in your car as you drive could trigger this anxiety.
You have to remember that dogs don’t understand things like humans do.
They can’t think, “it’s ok, it’s just a car, and my humans will keep me safe; there is no need to cry.”
They may feel scared and anxious, and that’s perfectly understandable.
And let’s be honest, humans sometimes get nervous in cars, so it’s no wonder that dogs do!
NOTE – You might also enjoy this post about why dogs hide in dark places.
2. Travel Sickness
Like humans, some dogs suffer from travel sickness in cars, making them feel unwell, and then they cry.
If you think this might be the case with your dog, you should contact your vet for help and advice.
You can try medications for canine motion sickness and some training techniques you could use (keep reading for some tips).
NOTE – You may also want to read this post asking the question: Why do dogs stick their tongue out in the car?
3. Negative Associations
If your dog only goes in the car occasionally, and when they do, something terrible happens, like a scary trip to the vet or boarding kennels, they might associate driving with bad outcomes.
Once this happens, they will struggle to relax in the car and feel scared and anxious (solutions for this further down the page).
NOTE – You may also enjoy this post looking at if dogs howl at the moon.
Sometimes dogs don’t cry because they are scared or sad, but they can’t contain themselves because they are so happy!
So, it could just be that your dog loves driving in the car, and they are crying with joy.
5. Erratic Driving
I have felt like crying more than once with the terrible drivers I have been in cars with!
So, it might be worth asking yourself (or another human) if your driving style is so erratic that it could be upsetting your dog.
6. Your Mood Affects Their Mood
You might be accidentally stressing your dog out if you are rushing around, trying to get the kids to school or to work on time.
As the most important person in their life, your mood affects their mood.
So pay attention to how you act and feel around the dog, and see if there is room for improvement.
Note – You might also like to take a look at this post asking why do some dogs cry when their owners get home?
How to Stop Your Dog from Crying in the Car
There are two approaches I would recommend for getting your dog to stop crying in the car:
- Use a Padded and Covered Crate
Car Travel Training
If your dog is nervous when driving in the car, use these steps to help them get used to it and reduce stress levels.
Make sure the dog is happy with each step before moving on to the next one and going back a step if the dog seems overwhelmed.
- Put your dog in the car and get them relaxed. Use petting, favorite toys, and treats to get them used to the environment.
- Repeat the first step with the engine running (and then with music playing).
- Leave them in the car, at first for a short period but then increase it. If you can get them so relaxed that they fall asleep, that’s ideal.
- Take them for a short drive, ideally with someone sitting next to the dog reassuring them.
- Build up the length of the journey and then make some trips with just a driver and the dog.
This process will desensitize the dog to being driven in the car, and this should stop or at least dramatically reduce their crying and whining.
NOTE – You might also like to read this post asking the question: why are huskies so vocal and loud?
Use a Padded and Covered Crate to Reduce the Dog’s Stress Levels
A great coping strategy (best when combined with the previously mentioned travel training) is putting the dog in a secure, fixed, comfy crate when traveling in your car.
The inside of the crate should be padded or lined with blankets so it is comfy.
It should also be covered to feel like a safe little den for the dog.
You can get them used to the crate in your home and then try it in your car (favorite toys will help them as they learn to like being in it).
Here is some more great advice on how to best deal with this problem:
NOTE – You might also like to take a look at this post, which explains why dogs chase cars?
Is Your Dog Crying in the Car Something to Worry About?
Unless you think your dog is suffering from motion sickness, there is nothing to stress about.
However, as with all dog-related issues, a trip to the vet is always advisable if you are worried.
If you live in the US, this website has a ton of great resources for charities that can help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country).
NOTE – You may also want to read this post looking at 11 noises dogs hate.
A Quick Safety Note About Driving With Your Dog in the Car
Whenever you take your dog in a vehicle, it is always best if they are secured, so they can’t cause any trouble and are safer if you have an accident.
If they travel in the crate, the crate should be secure, or you should use a travel harness that secures them to the car seat belts or similar attachment points.
If you have a secure, open trunk in your car, letting the dog travel in here can also work, as it gives them some freedom to move without getting into trouble!
Final Notes On Why Dogs Cry in the Car
Dogs cry in the car because they are feeling scared and anxious.
They could be feeling this way for several reasons, including:
- An instinctive or learned fear of traveling by car.
- Travel sickness.
- Erratic driving.
- The mood of the people they are in the car with.
Also, some dogs whine and cry when they are excited.
If you need to drive a lot with your dog, you should try to find the cause of your dog’s crying and work out how to reduce or resolve it.
Whether your dog whines in the car or not, you should always ensure they are secure in a cage, the trunk, or clipped in place by a harness.
That’s the end of this post answering the question – why does my dog cry in the car?
If you have more questions or would like to comment, please feel free to use the form below.
Thanks for stopping by and visiting The Factual Doggo.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!