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Help! My Dog Is A Nightmare In The Car: How To Stop Your Dog Barking In A Car

how to stop dog barking in car

A drive with your pooch is much smoother when you know how to stop your dog from barking in the car. Some pups are hell-bent on barking as loudly as possible in the car, making road trips nothing but truly horrendous.

Establishing the root cause of your dog’s adamant barking in the car goes a long way in remedying the behavior. Perhaps the last drive ended in a trip to a vet or a boarding kennel, leaving your dog feeling betrayed, or your pup has anxiety.

But regardless of why your dog is barking, always ensure they are secure with a canine safety seatbelt when driving. Remember, studies show the extreme danger of having a dog moving around the vehicle freely.

Whichever the cause for excessive barking is, here are the top 5 ways to stop your dog from barking in the car.

Why Dogs Bark in the Car When Driving

Dogs bark in the car because they are excited about the car ride, anxious, feel distressed about being confined, have barrier aggression, or are feeling car sick.

1. Excitement

An overly excited dog has difficulty remaining calm during car rides and will bark as an outlet for energy. Especially true for dogs that associate traveling with a positive experience like going to a dog park.

2. Anxiety

Previous negative encounters can cause your dog to be anxious during car rides. Vet trips and doggy daycares are dogs’ most common negative associations with car rides.

If a dog is leaving their owner behind, they may start barking out of separation anxiety.

3. Type of breed

Certain dog breeds are more prone to barking in the car. Sled dogs like Malamutes and huskies sound like they “talk back” at their human parents. Hound dogs like beagles can take to howling, while high-energy herding dogs like border collies will bark vigorously.

Notably, herding breeds, such as the Cowboy Corgi or the Merle Cardigan Corgi love to bark in the car.

4. Barrier frustration

Many dogs don’t like being restrained, even when it’s necessary. Leashes and barriers can often cause aggression in dogs. Just think of dogs that bark along the fence. Being locked in the car can cause a dog to become more aggressive toward anything they see outside the car.

5. Motion sickness, heat stroke, or dehydration

Your dog may whine excessively during a drive because they aren’t feeling well, and some may bark to express that they aren’t feeling well. Dogs get motion sickness during road trips and may vomit and drool. Your dog may suffer from a heat stroke if it’s a scorching day.

An excited or anxious distracts the driver and can also be a travel hazard. It’s vital to control your dog’s movement in the car for a safer road trip. Now that you’ve bucked your dog’s seat belt let’s look at the remedies to your dog’s committed barking in the car.

How to Stop Your Dog Barking in A Car

Teaching a dog how to stop barking in the car is manageable with patience and training them on cues like the “speak” and “quiet” commands. The goal is to get your dog calm enough not to be a distraction but not completely silent throughout the journey; that would be concerning.

See our article on dogs barking at nothing if your dog never seems to stop barking.

1. Teach the “speak” and “quiet” commands

“Speak” and “quiet” are handy verbal commands for car rides with your pooch. To train on “speak,” introduce a barking trigger like a doorbell (anything that makes your dog bark). Tell your dog to “speak” and immediately make the trigger sound. When your dog starts barking, reward them with a treat.

It’s tempting to yell at your dog when you need them to be quiet, but it’s essential to remain calm. To train your dog on “quiet,” introduce a barking trigger like a doorbell or a revving engine. As soon as your dog starts barking, lift a high-value treat and wait until your pup is quiet to give it to them.

Once your dog is silent a couple of times, introduce the “quiet” command and reward them with high-value treats. After a couple of cues, remove the treats and watch your dog follow the cue. You can repeat the training for a few minutes before starting your road trip to remind your dog of the cues.

2. Reduce your dog’s excitement in the car

Excitement and anxiety are the biggest reasons dogs bark and whine in the car. All the different smells and sights make traveling an adventure, and some dogs can’t help getting too excited. Taking a brisk walk or run before the ride will tire out your excited dog, keeping them calm in the car.

The best way to deal with this is to start making car rides as boring as possible. This means no more driving to the dog park or the beach for a while. Instead, take your dog for a short drive that just goes back home.

It may take time, but once car drives are no longer associated with something fun like going for a walk, there will be no more need to bark in excitement.

The new sounds of traffic, sights of food joints, and other people or animals can excite your dog. You can limit your dog’s outside view if they have a really bad case of excitement by using window tinting windows. You can also constrict your dog’s movement using a proper harness and dog seat belt.

3. Keep your dog busy

Keeping your dog busy during car trips effectively distracts them, reducing excessive car barking. Giving your dog food puzzles and toys like kongs provides necessary mental stimulation and reduce boredom. Most interactive puzzles can keep your dog occupied for hours, enough time to reach your destination.

4. Reduce your dog’s anxiety

Some dogs can get anxious about being in cars if the destinations are places they aren’t fond of, like the vet or a boarding kennel. To remedy this, occasionally take your dog to a pleasant place like a park and allow our pooch to investigate the car first and jump in on their own.

Take time to desensitize your dog to the car by opening the doors and feeding them in the car. When the dog becomes more relaxed being in the care while it is stationary, you can start closing the doors. Gradually work up to short rides with a positive outcome, like going somewhere fun.

If your dog gets extreme anxiety from being in the car, consult with your vet on calming supplements like L-theanine and CBD oil. With enough exposure, your dog will hopefully see that car rides aren’t nearly as scary.

5. Stay calm

Dogs often reflect their owners’ states of being. Yelling at a barking dog only tells them that you’re barking too. Besides, some dogs don’t mind negative attention, such as yelling at them. To avoid rewarding bad behavior, keep calm even when your dog barks, and reward only when they keep quiet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

How do you stop a dog from barking at other dogs while in the car?

The main way to stop a dog barking at everything outside the car is to put something over the windows so the dog can’t see anything to bark atm.

Following that, you can stop a dog from barking at other dogs while in the car is obedience training using verbal commands. Feel free to enlist the help of a dog trainer.

Teaching your dog the “quiet” command inside and outside the car will help them stop barking at dogs. When your dog stops barking after the command, reward them with a treat.

Why does my dog get aggressive in the car?

Dogs get anxious in cars due to anxiety and fear. But having a barrier between them and the outside world can increase aggression. Dogs feel like the car is their territory, and their instinct to warn other dogs and people not to come close can kick in as soon as there is a barrier to defend.

Why does my dog go crazy in the car?

Overly excited or anxious dogs can go crazy in the car. These dogs can howl, whine, and bark excessively, making the entire ride an ordeal. All the different smells, sounds, and sights can overstimulate your dog, causing them to go crazy in the car.

For more tips on dealing with a dog that is nightmare in the car, see our article on dogs whining in the car or on dogs panting in the car.

Final Thoughts

Dogs bark excessively in the car, primarily because of fear and excitement. Teaching your dog verbal commands like “quiet” reduce barking when you give the command. Taking your dog for a walk before the drive and keeping our dog busy during the ride curbs dog over-excitement and car barking.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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