Leo vs the Car

Since the weekend we brought Leo home (about 1.5 years ago), Leo has been in the car just about every single day, whether it was going to work with me during the week or going to the park or beach on the weekends. After spending 1.5 years taking car rides daily, you’d think he’d grow accustomed to car rides and maybe even like them, right? Nope, not Leo.

There has not been a time when I was in the car with Leo where I thought he was actually enjoying the ride. I’ve even opened the window for him thinking he’d like to sniff the different scents from the outside, but he doesn’t like that either. He’ll usually turn and move to the other side of the back seat. So far, during every car ride (no matter how long or short), he spends the whole time standing and panting. One time we had an idea that maybe he felt cramped so we put the seats down to open up the back space and give him more room. That was an awful idea. We didn’t even get out of our community’s parking lot before he was visibly shaking, pacing, and panting, so we crossed that idea off our list.

Getting Leo into the car isn’t a hassle. He jumps in without any assistance. However, he definitely makes it known he isn’t doing it because he wants to. He does it because he is a good boy. The only times I’ve noticed Leo is excited to get in the car is when he hasn’t been in the car for a day or two (meaning we’ve left him home) or when he’s tired from a trip to the park and knows home is the next destination.

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  1. My pit bull Petunia gets bored quickly on car rides. A few times we’ve taken long trips – and she settles down and naps. But whenever I take her to town with me (a 25 mile drive), I make a point to stop at the Hot Spot. She recognizes the sign and knows that means she will get a treat. I bring out a slim-jim – and she’s already drooling in anticipation. It’s 12 miles back home – and she knows at each turn or stop sign, I will give her another bite. Upon arrival at home, she jumps out waiting on the last 2 bites – which are her reward for being a good dog on the trip. She is always ready to “go ride” anytime I call.

  2. My dog Barney used to do the same exact thing every time we went in the car! I actually put the seats to me Jeep down and put in an extra crate (no door), and he lays right down and relaxes. As long as he can see me or see forward (where we are going), he is ok.

  3. some dogs just dont like the car rides. my girls are good. Harley likes to sit on the console and put her head on my shoulder, which i have told her not to. then she gets upset, she likes to look out the window and cant from her seat. please dont let Leo stick his head out the window when driving, you never know what could happen, something could fly in his face or someone could try to grab him or he could try and jump out. since he has been doing this since he was a puppy, i would try something to settle him down, perhaps a homeopathic calming pill. they wear seat belts. maybe he would do better in a crate while driving, have you tried that? maybe once he gets a little older he may settle down. he still has a lot of puppy in him.

  4. I’ve been fortunate that of the ten dogs I’ve had only one didn’t love a car ride. That one little girl, a pug, would do what Leo does, stand and pant the whole time I drove. I had taken a trip from northern Ohio to Maine and she stood and panted the whole time. I think she knew when we were on our way home after a week or so and she was much calmer on that trip. I think she was exhausted after that “vacation “. Maybe because she had a lot of adventures while in the sticks of Maine ..(once escaping from in laws home and got lost in the woods for hours. We were very lucky that she hadn’t been taken by a wild animal like a couple of the in laws pets had been.
    I would suggest as others have that a crate, without the door, would make Leo feel more calm. Or, one of those seatbelt restraints foe dogs. I have one for my one dog that likes to ride in the front seat. It’s only about a foot or so long and keeps the dog stationary but allowing him to sit or lay down and turn around. If Leo likes to keep you close to him that could be one solution. He’d be close, restrained and you’d be able to put a hand on him, reassuring he is safe.
    Hopefully he’ll grow out of this.

  5. My senior dog does the same thing, pacing and panting. I tried to take him on short drive every other day so he could get use to the car ride so far it did not help. He does not like to be in a crate. What do you suggest?

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