Dog Refuses to Pee While Traveling? [Road Trip Blues]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

The bags are packed and you are all ready to go for the next big road trip adventure.

A few hours in, you realize that your dog has not done its business!

Why is it that your dog refuses to pee while traveling?

The reasons can be narrowed down to disruption of its routine, fear and anxiety, or being unfamiliar with a new environment. Some dogs are more sensitive than others and might become reluctant to empty their bowels due to all the changes it’s experiencing.

It can be a real source of stress and anxiety, especially if you’re on a tight schedule or don’t have access to a yard or designated dog area.

No sweat though, as I share some tips with you on how you can overcome this predicament.

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Dear Dog Owner

8 Reasons Why Your Dog Does Not Pee When Traveling/on Road Trips?

Why Does Your Dog Not Pee When Traveling or on Road Trips

As concerned dog parents, you and I probably share the same experience of being worried when we notice our dogs not peeing while we travel, especially when the drive is longer. 

Some may see that as a relief since it means lesser cleanup, but not us.

Here are some common reasons why your dog might not want to pee while on the road.

1. Routine Disruption

Dogs are all about habits and routines. 

Your dogs love sticking to them, but when placed in an unfamiliar situation, they get disrupted.

When traveling or being on the road, they can’t stick to their routines that much, and that can sometimes cause canine anxiety or stress.

Your dog gets stressed when their routine is disrupted as they don’t seem in control of what they’re doing, which could affect their peeing schedule while traveling.

2. Anxiety and Fear

There are many reasons why your dog might feel anxious or scared in a moving vehicle.

Perhaps he had a negative experience with it in the past, or he just seemed panicky about how you are driving away from home.

Nonetheless, traveling causes too much stress to an unready doggy.

When it gets anxious or scared, it’ll have every reason not to pee while on the road. 

Your dog will have his mind busy with worrying and being sad that peeing will just be the last thing he’ll like to do.

3. Lack of Opportunities

While traveling, your dog might feel that it doesn’t have the luxury of peeing especially if the trip is longer.

It usually has to relieve his bladder every two to three hours or so. 

If you have been traveling longer than that, your dog will think he has to hold his pee in until you arrive at your destination.

4. Tired/Exhausted

Traveling takes energy even if your dog is just sitting in the backseat of your car or whatever vehicle you are using.

When your dog becomes tired from traveling, it’s most likely that he will just want to lie down and forget about peeing.

In his mind, he is thinking of just relaxing and doing his business later when he arrived at a more suitable spot for peeing.

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5. Unfamiliar Surroundings

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Dogs are territorial creatures.

Typically, they’ll pee on a spot to mark it as their own, which is why when being in unfamiliar surroundings, might make them hesitate to pee.

They like to sniff around first before doing their business too, and when they are in a strange place, they won’t be able to catch the scent that can encourage them that it’s safe to pee.

6. Dehydration

If your dog is in for a longer trip and has not drunk enough water, he might get dehydrated.

Dehydration leaves your dog with a low level of water in his body, and he won’t have anything to pee even if he wanted to.

7. Poor Training

Poor training could be one of the reasons why your dog is hesitant to pee while traveling.

If your dog hasn’t been properly potty trained, it might not feel comfortable peeing in new places. 

Similarly, if a dog has experienced scolding or punishment when they peed somewhere they weren’t allowed to, they might be afraid to do so again in unfamiliar surroundings.

8. Medical Issue

Medical issues like UTIs can cause more discomfort to your dog while traveling. Hence, he might feel the pain that he won’t have the urge to pee.

The bump on the roads can be a little too rough of a path for your doggy who’s suffering from bladder stones or kidney disease.

He’ll probably just choose to curl in a ball until the car comes to a halt before he pees.

Curious to know why your dog lays in the bathtub?

How Do I Get My Dog to Pee When Traveling?

How Do I Get My Dog to Pee When Traveling?

If there is a problem, there is a solution. 

Now that you know why your dog is behaving this way, read on to find out what you can do.

Make frequent stops

Your dog might not feel comfortable peeing in diapers or small spaces.

Be sure to make frequent stops and take your doggy outta the car to do his business.

It is a quicker way for your doggy to pee since he’ll be able to walk on the ground and sniff on spots he feels comfortable relieving himself.

Offer plenty of water

Keep your doggy hydrated!

Give it plenty of water so he’ll have fewer reasons for not peeing.

Drinking more water will make your dog want to relieve itself every two hours or so.

Use commands it is familiar with

If your dog is potty trained with certain commands, use it on him while traveling if you want him to pee.

For example, you might have trained your dog how to pee by using the word “PEE.”

You can use it while traveling so he’ll know that it’s okay to pee in that unfamiliar spot.

Bring along a familiar scent

If you’re an observant fur parent, you’ll notice that dogs always sniff around first before peeing.

This is because they’re looking for the scent that signals it’s alright to do their business.

Bring a pad or cloth that has the same scent your dog is looking for before peeing as it’ll encourage him to pee while traveling.

Reward good behavior

When your dog pees successfully while on the road, offer lots of praise and give it some treats.

That will serve as positive reinforcement and will encourage your dog to pee again later when they need to.

They’ll know it’s okay to pee since they got rewarded instead of being scolded.

Do you know how long can a Dachshund hold its bladder?

How Often Should You Stop to Let Your Dog Pee on a Road Trip?

When planning a road trip with your furry friend, it’s important to consider their bathroom needs.

Although some dogs can hold it for longer periods, others may need more frequent potty breaks, like puppies or senior dogs.

It’s ideal to stop for fifteen minutes every two hours.

This time is enough to let your dog conduct its business and get some time for stretching too.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for a Long Car Ride?

Do you know how long can a Dachshund hold its bladder?

It’s best to place your dog in his crate if you know that your dog tends to get restless and to prevent any accidents.

On a similar note, preparing a bag filled with dog food, water, pads, toys, and treats is also a must so everything your doggy’s needs don’t get left behind.

Make sure your dog’s collar has your name and contact number just in case he gets lost during the many stopovers.

I personally use a dog tracker to have better peace of mind.

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Doggy says, check this out too: Why is my puppy sleeping on the pee tray?

What Can I Give My Dog for Travel Anxiety?

If your dog has motion sickness, you can ask your vet for a prescription for Cerenia.

It can save your doggy from the horror of traveling in a moving vehicle without feeling sleepy.

If you’re worried about giving your dogs Antihistamines, you can try herbal remedies to soothe your doggy’s nerves while traveling.

Let your doggy drink some lavender tea to ease his anxiety.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Havanese peeing in the house?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can a dog go without peeing?

A puppy can hold their pee for 8 hours, while a full-grown dog for 12 hours. But this doesn’t mean that you should let them hold their pee for that long.

Is it normal for a dog not to pee for 24 hours?

No. It’s not normal for dogs not to pee for 24 hours. You should bring him to your vet for a check-up in case he needs medical attention for any urinary infection or discomfort.

What happens if my dog holds his pee too long?

If your dog holds his pee too long, he might develop urinary tract infections that can be life-threatening if not given quick attention.

In Conclusion: My Dog Refuses to Pee While Traveling

Although this might seem to be a frustrating or confusing experience, you should know that it’s not that common and a bit of prep work will go a long way.

Just remember that patience and understanding are key when dealing with this issue and making your dog feel comfortable and confident to do what it needs to do.

Check out other dog care tips such as should you put your dogs’ crates next to each other, can a dog die from eating a band aid, and many more on our blog!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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