How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

For many owners knowing how to travel with a dog in a car is something that they can completely ignore, or so they think.
It’s just a matter of opening the door or the trunk and getting Fido to jump in right? Wrong!

Over here in the UK, it can mean a fine of up to £2500 if you are traveling with your dog completely unrestrained in a vehicle and up to a third of UK motorists do this completely oblivious to the fine and also the safety risk to themselves and their dogs.

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car
Without being too dramatically upsetting, we all know what happens to people that don’t wear seat belts and are involved in a high-speed impact, so it’s is not too much of a stretch to understand what happens to our much-loved dog or indeed who they hit as they are propelled at 70 mph + from the back of the car to the front.

We as responsible owners can, of course, avoid this by taking some easy to follow and implement safety steps and by purchasing low cost-high quality equipment, we can enjoy our journeys with our dogs and they too can enjoy the experience too.

I have to admit, I have been lucky in my experiences of traveling with Greyhounds. They are used to vehicles from an early age as many that are rescued in the UK and elsewhere are ex-racers, so travel comes with the job!

That said, It is important to look at the following factors from our dog’s perspective also.

Cars are noisy and can be quite intimidating to our dog so to expect them to just get into this alien object without much fuss is quite an ask, especially for a nervous dog.

Plus if you ever get a rescue dog it can be one of the things that are often overlooked by the rehomers when it comes to knowing the dog’s relationship with cars and travel, so it’s a great idea to try to familiarise yourself with some of these tips and ideas when embarking on this very important part of owning a dog.

It really is a great thing to be able to take your dog away on holidays with you and my wife and I have traveled all over the UK and France with our dogs and to know that our dog can enjoy the travel is absolute must.

Dog Car Travel – Do’s

Always exercise your dog really well before you are set to leave in the car!

It really helps taking a tired out dog on a trip as they are much more settled and will only want to sleep, so getting them tired out and empty before a trip is the absolute best way for you to start off your adventure together.

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

Safest Way to Travel with Dog in Car

Restrain Your Dog. Use a Good Quality Harness, or a Crate or Guard, to Keep Your Dog Safe. …

One like this is what I use. They are extremely cheap to buy and very easy to use. You can secure your dog in seconds and then go about your business safe in the knowledge that your dog is secure and happy.

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car
Your dog can still stand up and move about enough to be comfortable. My wife usually sits in the back with him too just to add that extra bit of reassurance but in all honesty, he is pretty chilled out when he has his harness and secure belt on.

You can always go for a crate if you have a big enough trunk, but again make sure the crate is the right size for your dog and is secured in the trunk so it doesn’t slide around. A reinforced crate like this one will of been crash tested for toughness so you can rest assured that your pooch will be safe in the back if you do get a bump.

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

These come in all sizes and they can be a great way to secure your dog completely safe in the rear of your vehicle.

They have a range of add ons too, so you can easily clip water bottles to the structure.
Pop a blanket in the bottom too along with access to water and some toys too just to make them feel less anxious on the trip.
Anything that has recognizable scents of home or you will always make your dog feel calmer.

Always Carry Water. …and some treats!

An obvious thing really but easily overlooked. Make sure you always have plenty of clean drinking water for your dog and for you too. You never know what might happen and having water available is essential for all kinds of things from drinking to possibly cleaning cuts etc.

A few treats never go to waste either. Rewarding your dog for their great behavior and being calm is never a bad thing, plus as they will be no doubt toileting in strange areas along the trip, positive reinforcement and praise is always good for them and a treat helps this wonderfully.

Make Regular Stops on Long Rides. …

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

I make a habit of stopping every 2 hours when I go on a trip with my dog and it seems to work really well. My dog enjoys the new smells and the chance to relieve himself is important too. A little leg stretcher for the driver and a walk for your dog will make the trip altogether a lot more enjoyable.

Use Window Shades. …

Sunshine can be an absolute terror for your dog within the car and no matter if you have air-con on, sun shining directly onto your dog is not very pleasant and can easily cause sunburn just like it does to us humans.

Side window shades or tinted windows make for a much better experience for everyone, especially if you live in a country with a warmer climate.

Try to Help Your Dog Relax. …

As I stated before, my wife will usually sit in the back with my restrained dog and this works well as she can stroke or comfort him and he likes the company of having her sit next to him.

Drive to Fun Places. …

Try to think ahead and look for places en route that can be great fun for you and your dog to enjoy. Woodland walks or forest trails, beaches or places that you know have great countryside walks are really good ways for you and your dog to enjoy trips out.

Always be mindful of other animals again, depending on where in the world you are, it’s best to always research the areas you are going to.

In the UK we are pretty safe from predators towards our dogs but in North America, countryside and rural areas may well have a Bear, Wolf, Cayote or Cougar issue, amongst many other animals of a possible threat, so due diligence and preparation is vital.

Be Mindful of Motion Sickness.

Just like humans, dogs can get car sick and you will probably have to find this out the hard way!
Always make sure you have a “spill kit” in your car for this very thing.

Some blue roll that is absorbant, plastic gloves and something to make it smell better are all you need really along with the water I mentioned earlier….see, it’s not just for drinking!

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car
Blue roll is something that every car driver should carry! Millions of uses!

What can I give my dog for travel sickness?

If this becomes an issue, then there are a few things on the market that you can give your dog before the journey like

How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

These calming treats can help settle your dog for long trips and they have been very well received and reviewed by many owners.

Also, I have used a good old fashioned Ginger biscuit before and this can sometimes work to settle the dog’s tummy..Ginger works wonders!

Overall, these tips are just some of the things to consider when taking your dog in the car. Let me know what you think and take a look at this great video that outlines a few more considerations too.

Traveling with Dogs in Cars

We could not finish without saying this:

PLEASE don’t leave your dog in a car unattended, especially when the weather may be warm! 

It is easy to forget this crucial thing, but dogs get car napped or worse still, overheat and die. It is simply never worth taking that risk when you have a dog..they are way too precious to us!

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