Dog too excited/stressed on car journeys

Author: VioVet
Published: Sunday 20th January 2013
Updated: Friday 7th February 2020

Our customer asked:

My Westie pants and shakes when travelling in our car. She is not afraid to get into the car but once on the move she begins to pant and shiver. Please could you suggest a remedy for this problem.

Our reply:

This sounds like a stress/excitement response. Some dogs get very excited about the car journeys, even though they may well not be at all fearful. There are a number of different remedies which can be tried. All of them seem to work for some individual dogs, but not others, so it is a matter of trying one and seeing if it helps. Examples of products on our website which can work would be:

Valerian compound (a herbal remedy which lots of people claim is very effective.)
Zylkene (a non-prescription medicine, extracted from milk. Works like a mild tranquilliser.)
Xanax (a very effective, prescription-only tranquilliser. Your vet would need to provide a prescription for you to buy this.)

There is perhaps some behavioural training which might help. Trying some short journeys which end in a "non-event" will sometimes teach dogs not to get worked up for no reason. The easiest way to do this is to get in the car, drive round the block, then arrive back on your drive and get on with a normal day. Doing this quite a few times, on different length journeys, will sometimes teach a dog to be calm on all journeys.