My puppy hates the crate in my car – what do I do?

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my puppy hates the crate in my car - what can I do?

If you need to go somewhere with your dog, but your puppy hates being in the car or the crate in it, that makes things pretty challenging.

But you can make things easier on both of you and help your dog learn to accept being in the car. Getting him used to the crate in it also helps you keep both safe!

This articles has all the advice and information you need.

Why does my puppy hate the crate in the car?

There are going to be times when you have to take your puppy somewhere in the car.

Maybe you need to get him to his next vet appointment, or maybe you’ve got a puppy playdate planned.

You may even simply be trying to get your puppy used to being in the car so you can head out on adventures together! But if your puppy hates being in the crate in the car, that can make things pretty difficult.

The good news is that there are lots of great ways you can help your puppy learn to love his crate, even when you’re in the car!

Before we get into the reasons why your puppy hates crate-in-car journeys so much, check out these related articles on crate training:

In a nutshell, though: Your puppy likely either isn’t used to the crate, the car and its movement and noise—or he has bad associations, like vet visits and motion sickness. To help him, build good associations, like treats, fun and attention. His space also needs to be comfy and cool.

He isn’t used to being in a crate

The most common reason when your puppy hates being in his crate is simply that he isn’t used to it yet.

Up until now, your puppy has been allowed to roam free! You may have even let him ride in the car without being in his crate.

This sudden change can be a little upsetting to your puppy, especially if he’s not used to crates in general. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you are taking the time to crate train him properly.

So how can you make sure that you are training your puppy the right way? Here’s how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.

Related topic: For dog training in general I highly recommend you get a program that walks you through step by step, such as Braintrainingfordogs. Certified dog trainer Adrienne Farricelli teaches you to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation! Check out Dogpackr’s review to see if this is a fit for you!

Field Dogs 300 x 600

The car or crate is new to him

Part of crate training your dog means just getting him used to the crate. If the crate is too new to him, he’s not going to be very willing to go inside it.

Turning it into a comfy, cozy place will help you do this.

But the problem could also be that the car is also too new to your puppy. Your car is quite different from the inside of your house where you started out. That can be pretty confusing to your puppy.

The fact that the car moves can also be confusing and worrisome.

Work on getting your puppy accustomed to being in both the crate and the car. It can take some time, but it will make everything much easier for both of you!

You’ll find some tips on this farther down.

Your puppy hates where car rides take him

If you are consistently taking your puppy to the same places in the car, then he is going to pick up on that.

He’ll be especially nervous about going in the car if the only place you usually take him is the vet.

Dogs don’t generally like vets, but it’s important for you to take your puppy for his regular scheduled appointments.

That means that it’s also important for your puppy to learn to at least tolerate the car! If you’re only ever taking him to the vet, that’s not going to help. Try taking him to other, more fun places like a park or the pet store.

Remember, you shouldn’t take your dog out if he isn’t vaccinated or neutered or spayed yet. These related articles will help you learn more about these topics:

does your puppy hate your car and the crate in it? the destination might explain it
Does your puppy hate the crate—or the places you’re taking him in it?

He has bad memories

Your puppy may have better memory retention than you realize! If he’s had bad experiences in the car before, then he’ll probably do whatever he can to avoid going into it again.

Maybe your dog got motion sickness while in the car. That’s going to lead to negative associations with the car.

Or maybe you brought him to the vet because he was feeling sick. Again, that’s not going to do much to help him love being in the crate in the car.

The good news is that you can work with your dog to help build up more positive experiences in the car and in his crate.

You appear to be scared, too

Your puppy looks up to you to show him how the world works. He may also be far more intuitive than you realize he is.

Dogs can pick up on changes in emotions in us humans. And, what they pick up on, they’re likely to start mimicking.

If you get into the car with your puppy and you start acting nervous, that’s going to make your puppy even more anxious than he already is.

If you want your puppy to stay calm in the crate while you’re in the car, then you need to make sure you’re staying calm too.

How do I make my puppy less anxious riding in a crate?

We’ve gone over all the reasons why your puppy hates being in his crate in the car so much.

But what exactly can you do about it? Is there any way for you to help your puppy?

Yes! There are lots of great things you can do that will help your puppy learn to enjoy his time in his crate. Or, at least get used to it!

It requires some patience and work, but you can help desensitize your dog to the crate and learn to relax while you’re in the car.

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Find out why your puppy hates the crate in your car

Before you can do anything to help your puppy, you need to figure what’s freaking your puppy out so much about the car in the first place.

If you don’t know why your puppy is getting so upset, you’re going to have a hard time getting to the root of the problem.

Once you’ve figured out what the exact issue is, you’ll be able to target the problem head on. You can work on desensitizing your puppy to it.

That means removing the stimulus that’s stressing him out, and then slowly reintroducing him to it in a way that’s calm and controlled.

Feed your puppy around the car

Lots of dogs are food-motivated. That means that you can get them to do lots of things as long as food is involved.

You can use this to your advantage when it comes to training and desensitization.

Remember, your goal is to get your puppy to build positive associations with the car. If you start feeding your puppy around the car, that will encourage your puppy to go near it.

You may have to start feeding him a little further back. But over time, you should be able to get close and closer. With enough patience, you should be able to get your dog to eat in the car.

Your puppy’s diet is an important part of his health. These related articles will help you learn more about his eating habits:

Have fun near and in the car

Feeding your dog near the car is one way to get him used to it. But it certainly isn’t the only way!

You can try other things, like playing with his favorite toys in it, or giving him tasty chewies and treats.

Even spending time sitting in the car and snuggling up can do a lot to help your puppy get used to it.

Just being together in the car helps your puppy get used to it, and to his crate.
Just being together in the car helps your puppy get used to it, and to his crate.

Sit in the car with your puppy in his crate

Once your puppy is used to being inside the car, it might be time to get him accustomed to being in the crate.

If you’ve already been working on crate training in the meantime, then this transition shouldn’t be too difficult. You just need to work on getting him used to being in a different place in his crate.

You can help your puppy feel more comfortable by putting him in the crate and then sitting next to him. This way he knows you’re close, and he won’t feel as nervous.

Let the engine run but don’t drive

Some puppies get nervous at the sound of the engine. You need to help your puppy get used to it. Try starting the engine and letting it run for a few minutes.

You don’t want to start driving yet, remember. You just want your puppy to get used to the feeling of the car running so he stays more relaxed during drives.

Take short trips 

If your puppy is able to stay in his crate with the car running, then it’s time to get him used to the car moving.

Don’t go for long drives right off the bat. Start with a little trip around the block, and work your way up.

From this point on, it shouldn’t take long for your puppy to get used to longer drivers.

FAQ around your puppy hating the crate in your car

If you still have some questions about driving with your puppy in the car, here are a few answers.

puppy hates the car and maybe the crate

Should puppies be in a crate in the car?

Driving can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions, like wearing a seatbelt. The same thing is true for your dog. If your puppy is let loose in the car, he could get seriously hurt if you get into an accident.

Letting your puppy wander through your car could also be really distracting for you as the driver. It’s best to put your puppy somewhere safe, like in his crate. If your puppy hates being in a crate in your car, you will need to work on that.

Is putting a puppy in a crate cruel?

Many owners are under the mistaken impression that crating a dog is cruel. But a crate is just a tool, and it all comes down to how you use it.

As long as you crate train your dog properly and you keep the crate a fun, positive space, it’s not a cruel thing.

What are the symptoms of dog anxiety in cars?

If you think your dog might be struggling with being stressed in the car, there are a few major signs to look out for.

Dogs that are crying a lot, barking, drooling, or panting excessively are all major signs of anxiety.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s probably time to take a few steps back and train your dog to feel more comfortable in the car.

For more tips, here are 9 signs your dog is stressed.

How can I prevent my dog from getting car sick?

If your dog gets car sick, that’s not fun for either of you. There are some ways you can help your dog feel a little more comfortable in the car.

If you know you need to go somewhere, try to withhold food from your dog for around 12 hours beforehand. Keeping your car cool and comfortable can also help.

Keep the car cool and comfy—and don't travel on a full stomach.
Keep the car cool and comfy—and don’t travel on a full stomach.

If your dog’s car sickness is particularly bad, then your vet may be able to prescribe him some antinausea medication.

Speaking of the vet: Have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!

How do I take my 8 week old puppy in the car?

At 8 weeks, your puppy is still incredibly young!

The best way to travel with him at this point is to keep him in a safe dog carrier in the car. Keep it nice and comfy with a bunch of cozy blankets so he feels safe. And remember to drive carefully!

How do you stop a puppy from crying in the car?

If your puppy is crying in the car, then he’s probably anxious about being in it.

You’ll need to get him used to the car. Follow all of the above steps to help your dog feel more comfortable.


There are going to be times when you have to take your puppy in the car. If your puppy hates it, that can make things pretty tough.

But you can help your puppy learn to love being in his crate in the car, or at least tolerate it! Keep all the above steps in mind to make traveling much easier for both of you.

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