Why Does Your Dog Stick Their Head Out the Car Window?

back to blog

Have you ever wondered why your dog likes to stick their head out of the window of your moving car? It seems so natural and common for our canine friends, but sometimes leaves us owners scratching our heads. Turns out, the answer might be more complicated than you think! And with summer in full swing, now’s the perfect time to learn all about this curious habit our canines do!

So, why do dogs like to stick their heads out of car windows?

Because of All the Smells
It’s no secret that a dog’s sense of smell is much greater than ours… about 40x greater! It makes sense, then, that dogs navigate the world primarily through their nose. When our dogs stick their heads out of a car window when it’s moving, the wind carries all the odor molecules from the outside world over the scent receptors in their nose. In other words, it’s like a scent buffet for our dogs! We can travel great distances in cars at very fast speeds, and so there are lots of different smells to catch in the breeze while driving. It’s no wonder that our dogs feel most comfortable with their noses out the window!

Because of All the Sights
A dog’s dominant sense may be their smell, but that doesn’t mean their other senses are lacking. While dogs are actually more near-sighted than humans, they have a wider scope of vision than us, can see more clearly in the dark, and have better motion visibility. This means that when they stick their head out of a moving car window, they can see more clearly the objects and landscapes flying by. This helps them navigate the car ride and show them where they might be going. Put simply, your dog sticks their head out the window for the same reason you look out the window: to see where they are going. Combined with their greater sense of smell and acute hearing, our dog’s heads are an amazing sensory apparatus that takes in a lot of information at once!

Because the Outside World is More Exciting
When dogs are in the car, it’s a relatively confined space that never seems to change. You’ve got the same old seats, the same old car smell, and the same boring things to interact with. However, when the windows are rolled down and your dog is allowed to poke their head out for a sniff, the entire world opens up! With all the scents blowing past their noses, the sights rushing by, and the sounds booming, the outside world is a sensory overload for our dogs, one that’s much more exciting than the inside of a car.

Because it’s Fun!
Believe it or not, not every dog enjoys sticking their head out of a moving car. Despite all the sights, smells and sounds, some dogs prefer the calm and quiet of the inside. This means that for those dogs who do enjoy the experience, they choose to do simply because it’s pleasurable to them. Dogs live their lives in accordance to what makes them happy and feel content, and if sticking their head out of a moving car window is something your dog looks forward to, then they are doing it for the pure fun of it! Whether it’s for the scents, the sights, or the anticipation of getting where they’re going, dogs choose to do this strange behavior because they love it. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. The more we learn about our furry friends, the more we realize that animals are not so different than us; they don’t just follow instincts, but experience life with pleasure and a sense of enjoyment in what they do!

So, the next time you invite your dog into the car for a ride, roll down the windows and let them experience the pure joy of all the scents, sights and sounds of the world around them. We might think it’s funny and sort of strange but to our dogs, the wind rushing past their face is nothing short of freedom and fun!