3 min read

How to Keep Your Dog Happy During Long Traffic Jams


Written by Aurus Sy

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 09/17/2021, edited: 08/18/2022


Traffic congestion is a bane of city life. What should be a quick 15-minute trip can become an hour-long ordeal if you’re caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a frequent motorist, you’ve learned to cope with heavy traffic. But what if you have a furry passenger in the car? While you’re able to just grin and bear it, your canine companion may not be as patient or understanding. Here are some ways to keep your dog happy during long traffic jams!

Comfort is king

Before you head out, make sure your car is a happy place for your four-legged friend. Canines are creatures of habit who find comfort and security in familiar things. A blanket that your dog uses at home or a piece of clothing that you’ve recently worn can serve as bedding. This doesn’t exactly keep boredom at bay, but it does make your pup happier and calmer during the trip.

Let your dog burn off energy

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog.” Well, a tired dog is also a better passenger! Take your canine pal for a walk or jog prior to setting off—they’ll spend more time napping or just lying down quietly than being bored during the car ride if they’ve been exercised beforehand. This might mean you’ll have to make some slight changes to your schedule, such as waking up earlier, but it’s well worth it!

Give your dog something to do

If you know that there’s a good chance you’ll get stuck on the road, grab a Kong and stuff it with food before you and your mutt hop into the car. Kongs and other puzzle toys will keep your four-legged pal busy while you’re sitting in traffic. Depending on how you fill the Kong, your dog can spend several minutes to a couple of hours trying to get the food out. Before they know it, you’ll already be at your destination! 

Don’t have a Kong? Try these DIY treat toys, or just bring whatever your pooch has. Your dog’s favorites toys, as well as some new ones, are sure to keep them interested.

Break the silence

Silence may be golden, but that isn’t the case when you and your pup are inching your way across town. So say something to them! Dogs love hearing their name and the sound of their human’s voice. Talk to your furry friend about where you’re going and how much fun you’ll have when you get there, and say their name a lot. If your pooch gets anxious during car rides, having a conversation with them can provide some comfort.  

Another thing you can do is to put on some music. If you’re not sure what your pup prefers, reggae and soft rock are top picks among canines. A study conducted by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow found that dogs at a rehoming center had the best response to soft rock and reggae, with stress levels going down the most when these two genres were played.

Practice tricks en route

Practicing tricks in the car is a fun way to pass the time. If someone else is driving, you can help your dog brush up on the things they already know while traffic is at a standstill. Tricks such as shaking hands, pawing the nose, and saying “I love you” don’t require a lot of space or moving around and can be done in the backseat. Use the traffic congestion as an opportunity to hone your pup’s skills.

Take a break

Congrats, you’ve finally made it out of the traffic jam! If you’re still nowhere near your destination, be sure to let your pooch stretch their legs and take a bathroom break as soon as possible. Generally, dogs need a break every two hours when traveling, and more frequently if they’re really young or in their golden years. 

Remember to attach the leash to your mutt’s collar before you open the door, and avoid stopping on the side of a busy road. Your dog is probably very eager to get out after being cooped up for a while, and you don’t want them running loose among oncoming vehicles. Find a safe spot away from traffic, such as a rest area.

Follow these suggestions and your pup will be the best passenger you’ve ever had!

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