Why Does My Dog Poop in the Car?

By John Martin - August 16, 2022

Sad dog pooped in the car

Dogs pooping in the car can create a mess, not to mention that it can be quite stinky. More than simply cleaning the poop up, however, it is crucial to figure out what caused them to poop in the car in the first place.

This can help you avoid this kind of situation again. To help, we have compiled some potential reasons for this along with ways in which you can prevent the occurrence.

Potential Reasons for Your Dog Pooping in the Car

Take a look at some potential reasons for your dog pooping in the car. Note that these can often occur even if you have properly potty trained your dog.


A common reason for your dogs pooping in the car is that they might be anxious. This can particularly happen if they are sitting in the car for the first time or are aware that they are going somewhere they do not like.

This can increase their anxiety levels, causing them to poop.


Stress can also be a major reason for pooping in the car. If your dogs are afraid of something or someone in the car or are feeling uncomfortable on the seat, they might start panicking and become stressed out.

Their bodies might react by kicking off the fight or flight response, which might cause them to poop suddenly. Motion sickness can also cause this.


In many cases, simple excitement can result in pooping too. If your dogs usually love car rides and are excited by the change and all the stimulation, they might start breathing rapidly with their heart beating faster too.

These can all bring about changes inside your dog’s body, one of which can include the increased need to poop.


If you have puppies, they are more likely to end up pooping in unusual places, such as cars. This is because they might not yet be completely potty trained, not to mention that the new situation around them might make them excited or even anxious.

This can also happen more often if your dog is pretty old since they might not be able to control their bodily needs as they could when they were younger.


Too much noise in the car can overwhelm your dog. There are usually plenty of sounds in cars, such as the mingling voices inside, the sound of the engine, loud music playing and the noise of the traffic outside.

Dogs have a keen sense of hearing, which is why these noises are likely to stress them out more. This can make them poop out of the blue.

Unusual Smells

Dogs have a keen and acute sense of smell, which is a lot more refined than ours. When they are in a car, they are likely to get exposed to several new smells that their sensitive olfactory system might not be able to handle, resulting in fear and anxiety.

These smells can include petrol or gas, sweat, perfume, smoke or even food.

Also Read: Why Is My Dog Scared When I Sneeze?

Past Trauma

Dogs can experience trauma responses in ways that are similar to other creatures, including humans. Therefore, if they have had a traumatic experience in their past that was associated with a car, they might have formed a connection between the two, causing them to become fearful and leading to them pooping.

Prior Meal

A simple but highly probable reason for your dog pooping is because they might have eaten a meal right before getting in the car. Dogs tend to poop fairly quickly after eating, so this can help explain why they are pooping in the car.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Pooping in the Car

Woman taking dog on a walk

Once you identify the reason, you can take some steps to prevent this kind of situation from taking place again. Take a look at some methods you can try out.

Walk Your Dog

A good idea is to take your dog on a walk before making them get into the car. They can then walk their meal off while also pooping on the road instead of in the car.

This can be particularly useful if you have a long car ride ahead of you. Give your dog enough time to enjoy the walk while also pooping in peace.

Observe Your Dog

Once your dogs get in the car, you should observe how they react and behave. In particular, if this is their first time in the car with you, you will need to pay careful attention to whether they are comfortable or are feeling afraid or anxious.

Based on this, you can notice the other signs and stop them from pooping on time.

Use a Crate

If your dog is comfortable enough in a crate, you can bring one inside your car and keep your dog inside it for the entire duration of the car ride, especially if it is a relatively short one.

You might, of course, need to provide prior crate training and make your dog feel safe and calm in the crate. This can also be a good way of minimizing their motion in the car.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Pee On Other Dogs?

Prepare Your Car

Even if you take all possible measures to prevent your dog from pooping in the car, there is always a small chance of them pooping anyway. This is why you should prepare your car well so that the poop does not get on the seats or the floor.

You can place towels and pieces of cloth so that your dog can poop on them instead.

Take Breaks

It can help to take breaks from the car ride if you are not in a hurry to get somewhere. While shorter car rides might not be an issue, you should certainly take breaks for longer trips so that your dog can poop outside instead of inside.

Provide Training

You should train your dog properly to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable on car rides. Start out when they are puppies so that they can learn better.

Treat them and praise them every time they get in the car successfully. You can also start off with shorter rides and gradually increase the duration.

End the ride with a treat or a visit to the park. You can also hire a professional trainer, especially if your dog has some trauma.

Avoid Prior Meals

Try not to feed your dog right before the car ride. Space it out properly.

Carry Toys

To keep your dog comfortable and happy, carry some favorite toys and games so that they can remain occupied and busy while also having something familiar to rely on.

Use Diapers

There are special diapers for dogs that you can make them wear in case they end up pooping. You will need to train them to get used to the diapers in the first place.

If nothing works, visit the vet.

Cleaning the Poop

It’s best for you to put on a mask and some gloves so that you can deal with the poop in your car. Take some tissue paper or spare cloth and use it to pick as much poop up as possible and dispose of it in a bag.

You can then use some soap or detergent along with some warm water to clean up the stain. You might also need to buy an enzyme-based cleaner from the store so that they can decompose the stain.

Once the stain is completely gone, you can sprinkle some baking soda and citrus juice to get rid of the smell. Air fresheners can also help, as can keeping your windows open.

Also Read: Do Dogs Know They Are Loved?

Parting Words

Your dog might poop in the car because of reasons like stress, fear, anxiety, age, strange noises, unusual smells, past trauma or a recently eaten meal. You can prevent this occurrence by walking your dog beforehand, using a crate, preparing your car, training your dog and making your dog as comfortable as possible.