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Why Do Dogs Like Car Rides? Canine Behaviour Explained

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

dog in ride sharing car

When you say, “Wanna go for a ride?” to your dog, you’ve probably noticed how excited your dog gets, right? Well, there’s a reason for that. Most dogs jump at the chance to go on a car ride, but have you ever stopped to wonder why that is? If so, we have the answer. Dogs like car rides because they simply want to be with you, and if you’re the pack leader—which you should be—your dog will be happy to go along with you in the pack.

While dogs want to be with their owners, that’s not the only reason why dogs like car rides. In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of this question and go over the possible reasons for this adorable behavior.

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The 6 Reasons Dogs Like Car Rides

1. Mental Stimulation

A car ride is an excellent way to stimulate your dog’s mind. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation, and a good ol’ car ride provides just that. When a dog is in the car with you, they will be fascinated by all of the different surroundings.

A car ride is an exceptional way to keep your dog from being bored, which can lead to unwanted destructive behaviors. Sometimes it’s easier to leave your dog at home when you have errands to run, but if you take your dog with you, you’ll have one tired pooch on your hands when you get home.

We want to emphasize that you should never leave your dog in a hot car. If it’s warm out, you should still take them with you, or at the very least, crack a window and leave the AC running. Heatstroke can set in quickly, which can be fatal. If you can’t take your dog inside with you, it’s better to leave them at home.

a weimaraner dog barking from the inside of a car
Image Credit: sommthink, Shutterstock

2. It Curbs Their Sense of Adventure

Dogs love adventures, and a car ride provides a big one. Dogs explore the world through smell more than sight, so if you crack the window, your dog more than likely will want to stick his head out to take in all the many different smells.

Dogs have roughly 100 million sensory receptors in the nasal cavity compared to just 6 million for humans, so it’s no wonder they want to hang their heads out of the window.

3. It Gives Them a Sense of Hunting

Hunting gives dogs a sense of euphoria or weightlessness, if you will, and car rides can make your dog feel like he’s hunting something with you. Dogs are hunters by nature, and if a dog sees another dog walking on the road, the movement of the vehicle can make your dog feel like he’s on the hunt.

While in a car, everyone in the vehicle is faced in the same direction, and everyone’s body moves in unison with dips and turns, which makes your dog feel like he’s part of a pack.

dog in a car
Image Credit: Mark Volkmer, Shutterstock

4. The Desire to See New and Familiar Places

Dogs have incredible memories, such as spatial, short-term, and long-term memories. With that said, your dog will remember the time you took them to get a puppuccino at Starbucks, or maybe you drive to their favorite dog park and they are familiar with the route.

On the other hand, your dog will also remember the not-so-pleasant places, like the vet. Be sure to have plenty of treats on hand for those dreaded car rides, as it will hopefully help calm your pooch.

5. It Allows Them to be With You

Have you ever walked by a car in a parking lot and had a dog bark at you when you walked by? That’s because the car is just an extension of the home he shares with you.

When a stranger approaches, your dog will feel the need to protect his home, especially if you’re not present. Whether you’re relaxing at home or out running errands, your dog simply wants to be with you, no matter what.

German shephered dog sitting near car with leash in her mouth
Image Credit: Olga Ovcharenko, Shutterstock

6. They Can See Endless New Sights

Dogs love to observe everything around them, and while in a car, your dog is surrounded by endless observations, such as new other doggies in cars with their owners, and more. It’s never-ending, and your dog will be taking it all in.
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Final Thoughts

Taking your dog on a car ride is one of the best things you can do for your dog. It helps them from getting bored, and it proves to be a terrific bonding experience.

There are a few dogs out there that don’t fancy a car ride, which can be caused by a negative experience or anxiety. If your dog doesn’t care for them, you can work with your dog to make the experience a pleasant one. The trick is to gradually get your dog used to the car and don’t rush it. Take baby steps and reward your dog when they seem relaxed. With time and patience, your dog will become desensitized and learn to enjoy a car ride.

In closing, the next time you see your dog’s head sticking out the car window with ears dangling in the breeze, you’ll have a good hunch of what’s going through their doggie brains!

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Featured Image Credit: Andrey Popov, Shutterstock

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