As a devoted dog owner, you’re probably well aware that our furry friends can occasionally surprise us with unexpected behavior. One such unwelcome surprise can occur during car rides when your beloved canine decides to relieve themselves right in the backseat. Yes, we’re talking about doggie accidents inside the car, particularly when it comes to the messy issue of car pooping.

It’s no surprise that dogs can feel just about any emotion when riding the car. And because of these varying emotions, they are unable to control themselves. Even so, don’t scold your dog if they poop in your car.

Dealing with unexpected dog accidents during car rides, particularly car pooping, is a common challenge for dog owners. Factors such as anxiety, motion sickness, and inadequate potty training can contribute to these incidents. To prevent such occurrences, consider strategies like pre-trip bathroom breaks, adjusting feeding schedules, and using anxiety-reducing products or crate training. Prompt and proper cleaning of accidents is crucial, while persistent issues may necessitate veterinary attention.

Dog enjoying a ride with the car

Reasons Dogs Poop in the Car

When it comes to understanding why dogs might poop in the car, several reasons can contribute to this behavior. Here are some of the top factors that can cause dogs to have accidents in the car:

  1. Anxiety and Stress. Dogs can experience anxiety or stress during car rides, particularly if they associate the vehicle with negative experiences like visits to the vet or previous motion sickness. The stress can lead to an upset stomach and the need to relieve themselves.
  2. Motion Sickness. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from motion sickness, causing them to feel nauseous or uncomfortable during car rides. This discomfort may result in accidents.
  3. Lack of Potty Training. Insufficient or incomplete potty training can be a contributing factor. If a dog hasn’t been properly trained to understand where and when to eliminate, they may have accidents in the car.
  4. Changes in Routine. Dogs are creatures of habit, and any disruption in their regular routine, such as long trips or unfamiliar environments, can lead to anxiety and digestive disturbances, resulting in accidents.
  5. Medical Issues. In some cases, dogs may have underlying medical conditions that affect their bowel movements, such as gastrointestinal disorders or infections. It’s important to rule out any potential health concerns with a veterinarian if accidents persist.
  6. Lack of Breaks. If a dog is not given regular opportunities to relieve themselves during long car rides, they may reach a point where they can no longer hold it and have accidents.

Prevention and Management Tips

Preventing dogs from pooping in the bathroom requires a combination of proactive measures and consistent training. Here are some effective strategies to help you achieve this goal.

  1. Pre-trip Bathroom Breaks. Before embarking on a car journey, make sure to give your dog ample opportunity to relieve themselves. Take them for a walk or allow them to use the bathroom in your yard. This way, they are less likely to feel the urge to go while in the car.
  2. Diet Control Before Travel. Adjust your dog’s feeding schedule before a trip. Try to feed them a few hours before departure, allowing enough time for digestion and elimination. Avoid feeding them a large meal right before the journey, as this can increase the chances of bathroom accidents.
  3. Use of Anxiety-Reducing Products. If your dog experiences anxiety or stress during car rides, consider using anxiety-reducing products such as calming treats, pheromone sprays, or anxiety wraps. These products can help create a more relaxed environment for your dog and reduce the likelihood of accidents.
  4. Crate Training. Crate training can be a valuable tool for preventing bathroom accidents in the car. Introduce your dog to its crate and make it a positive and comfortable space. Gradually increase the duration of time they spend in the crate, both at home and during short car rides. The crate helps limit their movement and reduces the risk of accidents.
  5. Regular Short Trips to Familiarize with Car Rides. Take your dog on frequent, short car trips to help them become familiar with the experience. Start with quick rides around the block or to nearby places they enjoy, such as the park or a friend’s house. Gradually increase the duration and distance of these trips to build their confidence and reduce anxiety.
  6. Positive Reinforcement and Training. Reward your dog for good behavior and reinforce positive habits. When your dog successfully refrains from pooping in the bathroom, offer praise, treats, or a favorite toy. Additionally, consistent training in potty cues and commands can help your dog understand where and when it is appropriate to relieve themselves.
The dogs are lonely

Cleaning Up After Accidents

Cleaning dog poop from the car right away after the incident is crucial in keeping your vehicle hygienic. It also helps prevent germs and bacteria from spreading further. Here are some tips you can follow when cleaning up your car. 

  • Act quickly. It’s crucial to address the mess as soon as possible to prevent further spreading and lingering odors. Put on disposable gloves before you begin.
  • Remove solid waste. Use a plastic bag or paper towel to carefully pick up and remove any solid waste. Be cautious not to press or rub the poop into the upholstery or carpet.
  • Blot excess moisture. If there is any liquid or moisture left behind, use paper towels or disposable rags to blot and absorb as much as possible. Avoid rubbing, as it can spread the mess further.
  • Treat the affected area. Mix a solution of mild detergent and warm water. Dab a clean cloth or sponge into the solution and gently blot the stained area. Be cautious not to saturate the upholstery or carpet, as excessive moisture can promote mildew or lingering odors.
  • Rinse and repeat. After treating the area with the detergent solution, rinse the cloth or sponge with clean water and blot the area again. This step helps remove any detergent residue.
  • Absorb remaining moisture. Place clean, dry towels or paper towels over the cleaned area and press down gently to absorb excess moisture. Repeat this process with dry towels until the area feels mostly dry.
  • Odor removal. To tackle any remaining odor, you can use an enzyme-based cleaner designed for pet stains and odors. Follow the product instructions carefully to treat the affected area and neutralize any lingering smells. Test the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the fabric or carpet.
  • Ventilation. Once the cleaning process is complete, open the car windows or park the vehicle in a well-ventilated area to allow proper air circulation and help eliminate any remaining odors.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

Dogs that cannot hold their poop could be suffering from a certain condition. While pooping is normal, you should spot some signs that tell your dog needs medical attention. Watch out for persistent diarrhea. If your dog experiences ongoing diarrhea that lasts for more than a day or two, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration and may indicate an underlying health issue or dietary problem that requires medical attention.

Also, look for blood in stool as this could be a sign of worms or other gastrointestinal parasites. If your dog’s poop undergoes a sudden and significant change in color, consistency, odor, or frequency without any apparent cause, it’s recommended to consult a veterinarian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog get anxious in the car?

Dogs can experience anxiety during car rides for various reasons such as motion sickness, previous negative experiences, or lack of familiarity. You must support your dog during this stage so they can get used to riding cars.

How can I make my dog comfortable in the car?

To make your dog comfortable in the car try acclimating your dog first. Make sure he gets accustomed to traveling. Bring your dog on short trips and reassure him every time you ride. When your dog becomes familiar with the routine, it will help reduce their anxiety.


Dealing with your dog pooping in the car can sometimes take a toll on you. But this is just one part of being a dog owner. Many dog owners experience even worse scenarios. So don’t be disheartened right away. Rather, try to probe the reason why your dog is pooping. Remember, each dog is unique, and it may take time and patience to help your dog overcome car anxiety. If the anxiety persists or worsens despite your efforts, consult a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for additional guidance and support.

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