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The first time I drove my dog around town, she was scared out of her mind.

She wouldn’t even let me put on her seatbelt.

When we finally got to our destination, she was so happy to see me that I had to restrain myself from hugging her!

Dogs are social animals and they have been domesticated for thousands of years.

They love people unconditionally and are very trusting.

This makes them easy to train and get along with.

Unfortunately, this also means that dogs can be easily stressed by many things in their everyday lives including cars.

Some dogs will shake when they are in the car because they feel unsafe or anxious about the ride.

Other dogs may shake because they are sick or injured.

Either way, a vet should be consulted if your dog is shaking in the car.

Why Does My Dog Shake During Car Rides

The Science Behind Why Dogs Shake in Cars

In this article, I will explain why dogs shake when they are in the car.

But before we get into the science behind why dogs shake in cars, let us take a look at what causes them to shake.

There are many things that can cause dogs to shake while in the car.

Some of these include fear and anxiety.

Other possible causes could be illness, pain, or stress.

So, how does a dog shake?

Let’s find out.

Why Do Dogs Shake While Riding In Cars?

Dogs shake because of stress.

The feeling of being in a moving vehicle causes a lot of stress.

This is especially true if you have never driven your dog around town before.

You have probably only driven them around your own property.

So, when you actually start driving them around town, it is going to feel very different.

And just like humans, dogs experience stress differently.

It’s not always easy to predict exactly how your dog is going to react to something new.

If you are trying to figure out why your dog shakes, you might want to think about the following factors:

  • Your dog’s age.
  • How long your dog has been in your car.
  • How familiar your dog is with the area where you drive them.
  • What other animals are in the area where you drive your dog.
  • How far you drive your dog each day.

It is also worth noting that some dogs shake more than others.

Some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, are more prone to shaking than others.

As we will discuss later in this article, there are ways to help your dog overcome their car anxiety.

Tips for Helping Your Dog Overcome Their Car Anxiety

While you can’t force your dog to overcome their car anxiety, there are some things you can do to help them get over their fears and enjoy their ride.

Have Them Ride With You

This is one of the most effective ways to help your pet overcome their car fear.

The reason this works is because they will have an opportunity to observe what happens when they are not in the car.

They might even realize how much safer and more comfortable it is for them to ride in the car than outside.

Put Them in a Safe Place Before Driving

Your dog needs to know where they are going before they start riding.

Show them the location of the car.

This way, if they become anxious, they won’t panic and run away.

It also gives them a chance to look at all the different types of cars and learn about the different smells associated with each type.

Don’t Rush

If your dog gets too excited, they can become stressed and develop a phobia.

Try to keep your dog calm until you reach your destination.

That way, they will be able to relax once they arrive.

Use A Toy To Entice Your Dog

A toy is a great way to entice your dog into getting into the car.

Just make sure the toy is small enough for your dog to carry comfortably while you drive.

Once you get to your destination, give your dog the toy to play with.

This way, they will associate the car ride with fun instead of being afraid.

Play Some Music

Music can be very calming for dogs.

Choose music with a slow tempo and soft instruments.

Make sure they can hear the music clearly through the windows.

Play something soothing just before you get in the car and again after you arrive.

This will help to ease any tension your dog may feel.

When to See a Vet About Your Dog’s Car Anxiety

Although dogs are highly sensitive to their environment, they also respond to human behavior.

For example, if you yell at someone when they bump into you in public, your dog will probably be afraid of people and avoid them.

This is just one example of how animals can interpret our actions.

However, there are many other things that dogs can associate with certain behaviors and experiences.

This could include fear, pain, discomfort, or some type of stress.

If your dog is uncomfortable in certain situations, you might notice changes in their body language and/or behavior.

They may become anxious or nervous, and this could lead to problems like shaking, panting, pacing, restlessness, or chewing.

Fortunately, these symptoms aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they do need to be addressed because they can interfere with your dog’s quality of life.

In fact, they can make car trips very stressful for both you and your dog.

If your dog exhibits any of these behaviors, it is best to take them to the vet immediately.

There are many possible causes of car anxiety, including medical conditions, but they can also be caused by environmental factors such as loud noises and unfamiliar surroundings.

In addition, it is important to note that not all dogs experience car anxiety.

Some dogs don’t seem bothered by traveling in cars, while others have no issues whatsoever.

It’s normal for different breeds of dogs to react differently to a variety of circumstances.

It is also worth mentioning that although car travel can sometimes trigger your dog’s anxiety, it doesn’t mean that they won’t get along with other forms of transportation.

You should still keep an eye on your dog while they are riding in a vehicle.

Let’s look at what could be causing your dog’s symptoms of car anxiety, and then learn about how to help resolve the problem.

How to Make Car Rides More enjoyable for Your Dog

Before you rush to book an appointment with your vet, however, there are some things you can do to make car rides more enjoyable for your dog.

1. Get them used to the car before driving long distances

If you don’t want to go through the whole process of taking your dog to the vet and waiting for an appointment, you should try getting them used to the car (and maybe your neighborhood) before making longer trips.

You could also take them for short drives, like to the park or to friends’ houses.

Even if they don’t like it at first, keep doing this until they get used to it.

2. Use treats to distract them

Treats work great when distracting your dog during car rides.

However, you have to use treats that are not too big but still edible enough to give them to your dog.

Some dogs will eat treats off the floor while others will only eat treats that you offer them on their own bed.

Either way, the key is to distract them and keep them occupied.

3. Keep them in the backseat

In order to make sure your dog doesn’t feel trapped in the car, you need to keep them in the backseat.

This is especially true if they are already afraid of going into new places.

Put a blanket or pillow in the backseat so your dog has somewhere to sleep.

Also, if they start shaking, put something soft between them and the front seats.

This way, they won’t be able to shake themselves out of fear.

4. Be patient

Car rides can be stressful for both humans and dogs.

It’s hard to predict how a trip will turn out.

So, if you notice that your dog is shaking, calm down instead of shouting at them.

Instead, just be patient and wait for them to settle down again.

They might be fine after a few minutes.

5. Don’t stop along the way

Don’t stop wherever you happen to be.

If your dog starts shaking, keep going anyway.

This will help them get used to the car ride and eventually calm down.

If you do stop, though, put them in the backseat again.

Once they get used to being in the car, you can slowly drive up to the next place without stopping.

How Can I Help My Dog Overcome Their Car Anxiety?

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and playtime. Exercise helps relieve stress and keep your dog’s body in shape. Playtime allows your dog to socialize and be active.
Be patient with your dog. Sometimes, your dog may take longer than expected to adjust to changes in their environment.
Teach your dog to trust you. Teach them to associate car rides with fun and safety. Once they learn that you won’t leave them alone in the car, they will start trusting you more.
Try to avoid stressful situations. If your dog starts shaking when you are driving through a busy city street, try avoiding those streets. Instead, go to quieter roads where traffic is less frequent.
Don’t force your dog to do things that they aren’t comfortable with. If your dog is afraid of certain situations, then you shouldn’t make them do them. Don’t ever push your dog to do anything they don’t want to do.
Make sure your dog has a good quality pet carrier. A quality pet carrier will allow your dog to ride comfortably without getting stressed out. They will also be able to stretch out and stay warm while riding around in the car.
Keep your dog safe. Keep your dog inside the car when you are driving through areas where there are lots of distractions. Try to keep your dog calm by using positive reinforcement techniques. Reward your dog every time they stop shaking.


If you are wondering why your dog shakes during car rides, it’s probably not because he’s afraid of flying (although that could also be a possibility).

Most likely, his shaking is caused by an underlying medical condition or perhaps some kind of injury.

So what can you do if your dog is shaking in the car?

The most important thing is to make sure that your pet has proper dental care and that his health is being monitored regularly by a vet.

A healthy dog should never shake at all while riding in the car.

Megan Turner

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