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Why Do Dogs Like Car Rides So Much?

When you say the word “ride,” does your dog get a bit more excited than you anticipated?

This reaction is familiar to many pups and is an entirely healthy reaction.

While it is true that some individual dogs do not enjoy getting out for a ride, a majority of canine companions will enjoy sitting in the car for long rides.

Why is this the case? A lot of it has to do with a dog’s innate instincts.

They Love Spending Time With You

Your dog likely jumps into the car at the slightest provocation and tries to sit on your lap the whole time.

Even if you put them in a small crate or put them on the passenger seat, they still seem to be much happier in this situation.

That’s because they love being with you! Dogs are pack animals and need constant connection with their pack members to feel satisfied.

Being left out bothers them heavily.

As a result, being in the car on a ride is just another way to be close to you.

It makes them feel like they are a tight and essential member of a pack and inspires a sense of excitement and adventure.

Dogs love routine and a steady schedule and enjoy it when they get a chance to try something new.

So, get them out for a car ride to spend some fun time together with them.

happy dog on car ride

Rides are Stimulating to a Dog’s Sense of Smell

Does your pup sniff the air vents when you have on the air conditioning and get excited when you open the window?

Several dog needs inspire the classic image of a dog with its head out the window.

First, they love the feeling of air rushing in their face.

It makes them feel like they are running very fast and inspires a lot of naturally euphoric feelings.

Most importantly, your dog is constantly smelling new things whenever you’re on the road with them.

After all, your dog has over 200 million scent receptacles in its nose.

Every breath of air brings new information to their mind and helps to keep them mentally stimulated.

And riding in new areas brings even more smells, keeping them engaged in ways you might not entirely expect.

Cars are Like Mobile Homes to a Dog

Dogs don’t limit their concept of home to just their building in which they live with you.

Instead, they have a far broader and more interesting definition of what they consider home.

For example, your car is an extension of their home that they take just as seriously as your house.

That’s why dogs bark so heavily at people whenever they walk by the car, even when you drive by them.

In a sense, your dog considers your car a mobile home and a place they have to protect just as much as your average home.

After all, it has a comfortable place to sit, fresh new smells, and you and other family members.

As a result, going for a ride is just another way of experiencing home life with you and is a fun way to keep your pups engaged and excited with life.

Riding Triggers Hunting Instincts

Even though your doubt eats kibble out of a bowl and likely never kills and eats its food, it has a strong instinct to hunt.

The excitement of running through the woods, tracking down prey, and finally attacking them lurks in the mind of every dog.

And while they primarily cannot exercise this instinct in their modern life, riding in a car may feel similar to hunting many dogs.

Just think about it from the perspective of a dog’s mind.

They are moving forward at incredible speeds and with apparent purpose.

They are also surrounded by other pack members (some behaviorists think that’s how dogs perceive other cars and their riders), who also move quickly and with the same sense of motion.

The sensation likely feels much like hunting to many dogs and brings them a sense of euphoria.

Fun Rides Help Satisfy a Pup’s Innate Curiosity

While cats have a reputation for intense curiosity, dogs aren’t far behind.

Your canine companion loves new stimulation, which is why they get so excited when you give them a new toy or introduce them to a different person.

Dogs also love a change of scenery, as they can become quite bored spending most of their life sitting around the same house for days on end.

And riding in a car helps to satiate a dog’s curiosity by taking them through various new areas.

Even if you take the same ride every day, there will be different people and even animals for your dog to smell and see.

Critically, these types of rides also help reinforce a dog’s understanding of their area and help to make them feel more connected with the world around them.

The Possibility of a Tasty Treat

Dogs are a beautiful collection of learned behaviors that automatically associate various behaviors and actions with rewards and punishments.

For example, your dog may have gotten a treat from you before or after a ride for behaving well.

Or you might have picked up food or a treat for them on the ride and shared it with them as you rode.

Dogs aren’t dumb and will quickly make these mental connections.

In other words, your dog will believe that they will get a treat every time they get into the car with you.

So it doesn’t matter if you rarely buy a snack for them on the road or don’t give them a treat when they get in the car.

The association of car rides with rewards will be so high that they’ll love getting in the car on the off chance that you do give them something nice.

Why Do Some Dogs Dislike Rides?

While it is true that dogs generally love going for rides, you may have a pup who just can’t handle it.

There are a few reasons why some individual dogs don’t do well in cars.

For example, some might get motion sick or find the change in scenery triggers terrible anxiety.

Whatever the situation, it is usually a good idea to get your pup out for a few rides to help break their fear or work with your doctor on a motion sickness treatment.

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National Canine Research Association of America