How to Help Dogs with Travel Anxiety

With travel restrictions still in place, holidaying in the UK is more popular than ever this summer. Swapping trips abroad for dog-friendly staycations is brilliant news for dogs: no kennel stays and separation anxiety, and more time spent with the whole family. But UK travel inevitably means more time spent in the car.

While many dogs cope well on car journeys, some dogs associate the car with trips to the vets and other stressful events. Car anxiety can make travelling with your beloved pup a worrying experience for both of you. So, we’ve explored how to travel with your dog and some top tips for easing car anxiety to prepare you and your dog for your summer holidays.

Why do some dogs suffer from travel anxiety?

Often dogs with travel anxiety are triggered by a distressing event. For example, your dog may associate the car with visiting the vets, the kennels, or even an upsetting incident at the groomers. The sound or motion of your car can cause anxiety, too, such as sounding your horn or braking suddenly. After any stressful experience, your dog may feel uneasy or anxious during future car journeys.

Dogs like routine, so when you put them in unfamiliar situations, anxiety is heightened. Your dog may suffer from travel anxiety simply because they aren’t used to travel. If you rarely take your dog out in the car, they may feel unsettled by it, and it’ll take time to adjust.

black and white dog in car

How to calm dogs with travel anxiety

While there is no quick cure for your dog’s travel anxiety, follow our simple tips to ease anxious behaviour gradually.

1. Create a safe, comfortable space.

Whether your dog is travelling on the back seat or in the boot of your car, ensure they feel safe. Try placing your dog’s bed in the car or some blankets for them to curl up in. If you’re using a crate, make sure it’s secured and place a blanket on top to keep them calm.

2. Use familiar scents.

Bring your dog’s favourite toy along (preferably an indestructible one!) and something that smells of you and your home. The familiar scents will help to calm your dog and ease any anxious feelings. Bear in mind your dog may chew anything within reach, so be careful not to bring any choking hazards or valuables.

3. Wear out your dog with a walk or playtime.

Walking your dog or playing shortly before any car trips will wear them out and encourage them to take a nap during travel. Not only that, but exercise also releases happy hormones, so your dog is more likely to feel calm.

4. Use treats for positive association.

If certain aspects of a car journey are particularly stressful, use treats to reward good behaviour. For example, if your dog resists getting in the car give them a treat when you put them in, and if they bark reward them when they’re quiet. For safety, consider bringing an extra pair of hands!

5. Build up to longer car journeys.

When planning a UK staycation, try to ease your dog’s car anxiety by planning lots of shorter trips first. Travelling in the car with your dog little and often will help familiarise them with the car and break any association with the vets or other traumatic events.

6. Use natural anxiety remedies.

Natural calming remedies can aid your dog’s anxieties safely. While some medications can make your dog lethargic, a natural alternative can aid anxiety without the drawbacks. Our calming for dogs range is perfect for situations like helping with travel anxiety. Each product is suitable for daily use as needed, and the hypoallergenic ingredients are perfect for even the most sensitive pups (from 12 weeks). Use calming spray, calming supplements or hemp oil shortly before any car travel to calm your dog and leave them feeling more relaxed.

Travelling with dogs in the summer

Aside from easing travel anxiety, it’s essential to keep dog’s safe when travelling. Cars can get extremely hot in summer, risking heat exhaustion and dehydration. Follow our top tips for the safest ways to travel with a dog:

dog laying on pebble beach

Keep the car cool and well-ventilated during travel – ensure fresh air is flowing to the back of your car, either with air conditioning or by opening a window.

Stop frequently for water and toilet breaks – Break up the boredom of long journeys with regular stops. Let your dog stretch their legs, keep them hydrated, and make sure they go to the toilet regularly.

Don’t let your dog hang their head out of the car window – dogs are prone to eye injuries when they stick their head out of the window, so keep them out of reach.

Secure your dog with a seat belt – dogs must be secure, not only so you’re not distracted, but so that they’re safe if you need to brake suddenly.

Never leave your dog in a hot car  – your car can get extremely hot within minutes, risking heatstroke and much worse. Even 5 minutes on a hot day isn’t worth the risk.

To soothe your dog's car anxiety safely, explore our calming for dogs range. Every calming aid contains 100% natural ingredients to ensure they're suitable for even the most sensitive skin and tums.

Need convincing to give natural anxiety aids a try? Here are some of our loyal fans (and adorable too!):

alice the sprocker

instagram: @alice_the_sprocker

"It’s honestly a game changer! For 3 years I’ve been searching for a product to help calm Alice with fireworks and the pet calming oil is the jackpot! Amazing how it works!"

bonnie the beagle