9 Intriguing Reasons Why Dogs Like Car Rides- DogVills

People are often confused by why dogs like car rides so much. Honestly, a confined and moving vehicle doesn’t seem like an ideal place for an animal. But some pups feel comfortable with it, and even become excited every time their owners jiggle the car keys. 

So what causes this excitement for a trip inside the car? Below, I’ll take through several explanations to ensure you become an expert on this topic. I’ll also provide insights into why some dogs don’t enjoy the car as much and how to help them become more comfortable.

Happy dog riding in the car

Why Do Dogs Like Car Rides? (9 Reasons)

Car rides aren’t always a welcomed part of your dog’s life; some hate them more than anything else (more on this later). But if your pup does enjoy traveling in a car, their enjoyment often comes from one or a combination of these nine reasons:

1. Provides New Smells for Your Dog’s Nose

Dogs are notorious for having an outstanding sense of smell. After all, their smelling ability is much more powerful than what any human being can experience. It’s a pivotal part of how they would survive if they weren’t pampered inside our homes!

So it makes sense your dog would want to use this superpower as much as possible. I’d imagine it gets boring for them to use it on the same smells every day. A car ride provides an easy way of encountering new odors that aren’t in their usual haunts. 

You’d be surprised by how much pleasure dogs can get from contacting a new smell. Recently, my dog was going crazy when we passed by a dump. I certainly wasn’t too pleased with the experience, but he had a fabulous time. 

Furthermore, these trips keep them away from all those stale smells at home. Your dog’s probably not too thrilled about smelling the same stuff. So car trips will get them a reprieve from the regular selection of odors. 

2. Offers Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation is an overlooked part of providing a good home for dogs. Owners need to engage their pup’s mind with new stimulation to keep them from getting bored. It’ll keep them on their toes while reducing any chance of them feeling depressed.

Car rides are an excellent avenue to provide this stimulation. All the passing surroundings will give them something new to process and keep their attention. Plus, these various sources of stimulation will help prevent them from being destructive in the car. 

As a result, I recommend bringing your dog on any errand when possible. It’ll keep them entertained and prevent problematic behaviors when left at home. Honestly, It’s nice not having to worry about coming back and seeing your couch cushions ripped apart. 

You’ll also have the benefit of a tired dog. So once they arrive home, their brain will be spent from all the mental stimulation and fall right asleep. 

3. Expanding Your Dog’s Territory

Dogs love to extend their territory. It’s a massive component of their DNA, so any opportunity to expand their territory is a win for them. As you can imagine, car rides offer this chance better than almost any other situation. 

More importantly, every car ride could be an exploration of a new area. It indicates to your pup that you’re going somewhere unexpected. So the possibilities become endless for them and provide significant excitement.

Once your dog gets in this new location, they will start “expanding their territory”. There’s also a safeness involved since you’re on this journey with them. Your pup will feel comfortable doing whatever they want without feeling overwhelmed by an unfamiliar area. 

Why do some dogs like car rides so much, while others seem miserable throughout the entire drive? We answered both questions and more in our guide!

4. Each Trip Becomes a Hunt

Traveling inside a car allows dogs to smell and see prey. It creates the illusion of them being on a hunt while they drive past places and animals. So it puts them into a good mood while encountering these environments.

Since you’re on the ride with them, it provides a sense of a hunting party. You become part of their “hunt” and a car ride soon resembles a hunting experience. In other words, the entire process creates a bonding event while tapping into a natural behavior.

The car ride itself also taps into this behavior. It offers a way for you and your dog to move at the same speed, mimicking how you would hunt together. Due to this, the entire process can offer the same sensation a wild pup experiences when hunting prey. 

It’s an interesting way to look at something commonplace like a car ride. We might consider it an everyday occurrence, but it can be a thrilling and vital event for your pup. If your dog does enjoy these rides, I’d suggest tapping into it whenever possible.

5. Consider Car Rides a Reward

Some owners have used car rides as a reward for good behavior. After all, certain dogs will soon associate these adventures with the rides themselves. So if you routinely use your car to drive them to a dog park, they’ll start seeing the car in a positive light. 

It’ll soon become an indication of a reward for them. Once this association grows, owners can use it to their advantage as a reward to promote good behaviors. So if your dog has been well-behaved, try taking them on a car ride to the park or trails. 

But this association can go the other way and form a negative association. In most cases, these negative feelings form when car rides are only used for trips to the vet. It’s a massive reason why certain canines are terrified of taking trips inside cars. 

6. Love Spending Time with Their Owners 

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that most dogs love spending time with their owners. Any activity capable of being done together is seen as a perfect way to spend their time. Honestly, they’ll do what to secure even an extra second by your side

Car rides are an activity capable of meeting this description. It’s a bonding event with both owners and dogs confined into a shared area. So it provides a great opportunity to spend time together while promoting a bond-building experience. 

Some canines often get very excited when they realize car rides are happening. I’m very familiar with this reaction considering my Beagle goes insane whenever my keys jiggle. He just adores riding in the car and going on a trip with me. 

I wish my Pitbull had the same response, as it takes her a minute to get comfortable. But thankfully, she settles down after about a couple of minutes in the car. From there, she becomes even more excited than my Beagle.

Why do dogs like car rides?

7. Taps into Their Natural Curiosity

Dogs are known for being curious animals compared to other pets. Any owner will confirm this belief, as pups are constantly sniffing and exploring new things. I can’t even count the times I found my dogs trying to get into a blocked-off room in my house: they’re always letting their curious natures get the best of them. 

Therefore, car rides are an easy way to explore this curiosity without any issues. It gives them a sense of adventure while introducing various new elements into their lives. 

8. View The Car as Their Second Home

An often overlooked aspect is cars becoming a second home to your dogs. Over time, they developed a connection to the vehicle while viewing it as part of their lives. Some canines will even go as far as to protect it when encountering people. 

For instance, my Beagle will bark at anyone who passes the car window. In his mind, he’s protecting his territory and me from this stranger. It becomes annoying but it’s an indication of him being comfortable inside my car. 

Luckily, a few treats or toys will make him quiet down in only a couple of moments. 

9. Relaxing Experience for Some Dogs

Car rides can be a place full of familiar smells that can relax your canine. Basically, your car represents a place where they feel comfortable. It’s not too shocking considering you spend a significant time inside these vehicles; they become comforted by your smell and presence inside the vehicle.

In some cases, the car will soon It’ll become a sort of haven for them. You could use it to even help ease anxiety or stress during a chaotic situation. If you sense your dog becoming overwhelmed by something, a car ride could be a solution to ease their anxiety.

dog riding in the car

Why Do Some Dogs Hate Being in the Car?

Sadly, some dogs will have a deep-seated hatred of car rides. In these cases, their dislike is often because of these two issues: motion sickness or travel anxiety. Let’s take a more detailed look at these problems to see if they could be causing your dog’s car trouble:

1. Motion Sickness 

Motion sickness can wreak havoc on dogs who aren’t accustomed to traveling inside a car. In particular, young dogs and puppies often have more issues with this condition. It comes from their ears not being fully developed and the car’s motion feeling unbalanced. 

Honestly, it’s not much different than what we experience when stuck in a car for too long. It’ll make you feel uneasy and cause some rumbles in your stomach. Unfortunately, the nausea also kicks in often resulting in us and our dogs vomiting. 

Most owners can expect any issues with motion sickness to stop after about a year. Once their ears fully develop, it becomes much less of an issue. But it still does remain a problem for certain dogs even into adulthood. 

So if your dog falls into this description, it’s helpful to know the signs of motion sickness. These signs can help you plan and manage the situation when it does occur. Having a handle on the following symptoms can help ensure your car’s interior doesn’t soon become covered in vomit: 

  • Panting
  • Unusual stillness
  • Whining
  • Restlessness
  • Lip-licking and drooling
  • Vomiting

If you do notice these signs, pull over and take them on a walk. It’ll help deescalate the situation to allow your dog a little time to settle their stomachs. You’ll be shocked by how much difference some fresh air can make with a dog who suffers from this condition. 

2. Travel Anxiety

Anxiety plays a massive role in some dogs hating car rides. It often presents itself from them having a bad experience during their younger days. Even a bad bout of motion sickness during their initial car ride journey could cause them to have lingering anxiety.

Of course, this anxiety could form from where these rides take them. An owner who only uses their car to take dogs to places like the vet or groomer will have more problems. They aren’t going to like these rides if they always lead to somewhere your dog hates.

Why do some dogs like car rides so much, while others seem miserable throughout the entire drive? We answered both questions and more in our guide!

How Do You Get Dogs Used to Car Rides?

Getting dogs used to car rides is all about forming positive associations with them. It’s a good idea to build up good experiences within your vehicle. I’d suggest bringing along a toy or treat while taking them to a place they love. 

For instance, take them to a dog park or a play date with their favorite furry friend. Your dog will soon realize these rides end up in fun places. So they’ll become much less anxious and stressed inside the car. 

But this positive association doesn’t cure bad behavior inside the car. Some dogs are restless and a hindrance while on these rides. You’ll need to keep them calm while praising them when they display good behavior. 

My preferred method is bringing along a blankie or bedding they find comfortable. The presence of something familiar should help calm them during the ride. I also recommend using a calming CBD treat to relax them as it works wonders with my dogs. 

Scheduling stops for walks during a long trip is extremely helpful. It’ll help prevent your dogs from relieving themselves inside the car if they have bathroom accidents. Plus, it’ll just provide a place to regroup for everyone and get some fresh air. 


Car rides are a favorite among some dogs for many reasons. Your dog could love the new smells traveling provides or simply enjoy them for being an opportunity to spend more time with their favorite human. Basically, the reasons behind their enjoyment in almost endless. 

Of course, not all dogs feel this way as they hate these rides with an absolute passion. This hatred often comes from experiencing motion sickness or suffering from travel anxiety. So if your dog falls into this category, do everything possible to make them more comfortable in their car. 

Don’t forget to let me know if you have any more questions. I’ll make sure to answer them as soon as possible. I’d also love to hear about your experiences with dogs in the car, so don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.  Thanks for reading!


  • Ben Ro

    My name is Ben Roberts, and I’ve been writing about animals for many years. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a much better job, considering I’ve been around animals all my life. I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t at least one cat or dog inside my home. Currently, I’m a proud owner of a Beagle and a Pitbull who make sure my life is never dull.

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