Your dog hears your car keys jingle. Swiftly, he runs towards the front door and looks at you, saying, “can I go with you?”
Dogs are always excited about going out, even if it is just a simple walk around the block. Many people think it is because dogs stay inside most of the day and are merely excited to go outside.
We consulted with some dog experts and realized that there is much more to it. Especially when going out, in this case, means going on a car ride!
If your dog, like many others, loves riding in your car and sticking his head out of the window, you may be curious to know why.
Here are 8 reasons why dogs love riding in cars.
Did you know that for every olfactory receptor humans have, dogs have 50? This means that their sense of smell is very pronounced. If I could see 50x better or farther, I am sure I would always be looking outside.
When you can smell a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee, a dog can smell the same teaspoon in over 2 gallons of coffee.
Dr. Melissa Bain, a veterinarian at the Univerisity of California, Davis, believes that dogs get high on all the scents they can absorb during the car ride: “they are getting a lot of input at higher speed.”
While your dog is not always going out to eat when riding your car, he is undoubtedly enjoying a wide variety of scents, and that’s why he loves it so much.
Dogs are direct descendants of wolves. Nowadays, wolves need to range pretty far and don’t just stick to one place. As their territory increased, they grew to like going far. You would not survive well if you didn’t like it.
When going in your car, your dog feels that you are going somewhere. There might be other dogs there; it might be a place he doesn’t know yet. It’s a new place to explore.
Dogs might take this opportunity to expand their territory, and they know it is safe with you and inside your car.
Everything we do is an association. As I write this, I am thinking about the morning coffee I am about to drink and its taste and feeling of wakefulness.
Dogs are creatures of habits, and they learn what to associate familiar sounds, sights, or objects with:
- keys kingling mean car ride, or you are leaving them alone
- owner’s car pulling up the driveway implies the owner is home
- food bag being pulled out of the pantry means it’s time to eat something delicious
Your car ride will lead your dog to a new place he likes most of the time or even some kind of food treat. Over time, he learns to associate your car with good things happening, which is one reason he loves riding in the car with you.
Researchers discovered something interesting. They studied some dogs that had grown up together in a kennel. In their first test, they separated two kennel dog mates. The dog who remained in the kennel by himself stayed calm and relaxed, surprising since his mate was gone.
They placed the same dog in an unfamiliar kennel in a second situation. The dog’s stress hormone level went up by 50%. However, as soon as their human caretaker came with them and petted them, that level returned to normal.
Researchers agree that dogs will choose you over other dogs, even if they have a special bond with these other dogs.
Whether it is a car ride or something else, it means doing something with you, which gets dogs very excited.
Dogs are used to their territory. Most likely, they will see the same things repeatedly: the same house, the same cars pulling up, the same people. This brings a real sense of home to them and security.
On the other hand, just like us, they get excited to see new things. It might be a new neighborhood or new dogs: they see new things when you are driving your car. The best part is that they experience these new sights at your side and are protected inside your vehicle.
Dogs will ride with you inside your car, which means that you are essentially a pack. So what does a pack do? It goes hunting!
Dogs may associate car rides with a good hunt. But, by hunting, we don’t mean actual hunting. Instead, your dog enjoys seeing or smelling prey.
Hunting gives your dog a weightless sensation, and that’s why he loves it so much.
Researchers also found that wolves leverage something called physical synchronization when taking down prey. They start synchronizing and moving together to take down large prey.
When you are riding with your dog, you are moving together at the same speed, giving your dog this feeling of physical synchronization and euphoria.
Your car is also their home. Have you ever walked by a parked car with a dog inside? I bet that in some cases, that dog barked at you. That’s because he was defending his home.
Since dogs love their home, it is logical that they also like their home on wheels. In the unlikely event that your dog is not a big fan of your car, then take this as your cue to make it more like your home: bring their favorite toy and blanket when going on a car ride.
Being in a car is an adventure, and most dogs love going on an adventure. Dogs are curious and outgoing, and you are offering them the gift of new smells, sights, and sounds. To them, this is a real adventure that gets them out of the house.
If your dogs love going on car rides, I would love to hear about it in the comments below. Also, remember to subscribe to our newsletter to get notified when we write articles just as interesting as this one.