It is almost Christmas and you are planning to go to see your family who live a couple of hours from you. Normally you would just pack your bag, jump in the car and leave, but this year you have adopted a dog who has never traveled before so you are not sure how much they will enjoy spending time in the car. This is something that all dog owners have had to go through at the beginning and in most cases it is an easy process. In this article, I will try to make it as smooth as possible for you.



What To Do With A Young Dog

If you have a young dog, it is important that you make traveling as much fun as possible, especially at the beginning. Get them used to the car, let them jump in and sniff around for a few minutes; do this every day for a week, without moving the car. You want your dog to make this simple conclusion: CAR = FUN.


The first day keep it simple, just in and out whenever they please and make sure not to push or drag them in. Once they feel confident, add a little challenge every day: keep the engine running one day, leave the music on another day, open-and-shut the doors and so on. Keep it fun and easy, nothing too challenging or scary. Make sure you have a car dog net between the front 2 seats to stop your dog from going to the front, and make sure there are no hazards in the car; the most important thing for your dog is to be safe at all times in the car. I have found an exceptional Dog Net stroke seat cover. It is a five star rating and worth the extra money Click Here for further information



Once they are used to the car start driving around a little bit. Start with a little loop of your neighborhood, the next day go to the park, then increase the distance and go a bit further from home. As long as you keep this short and fun at the beginning, your dog will get used to it and you will be able to go and see your family for Christmas with ease.                                                                                  Fun but not Safe


Always remember to praise your dog the first few days (this applies to anything you try to teach them) so make a big fuss every time they get in and out of the car, or when you have arrived at your destination. Once the journey is over, tell them how good they were, cuddle them and if you use treats give them a couple once they are out of the car.


It is also important not to set them up for failure so make sure your dog is ready for traveling. If you have been at work all day and your fury friend has been at home all day alone, let them stretch their legs before you ask them to get in the car. If they have a lot of energy, play with them for a few minutes so they can steam off a little before getting in to your vehicle.



What To Do With An Adult Dog

If you have an adult dog who has never traveled in a car, you have to be a bit more patient and persistent. The procedure is the same, just take it one-step at a time and avoid stressful situations such as loud music in the car, banging of doors, traffic jams etc.

Do not leave the dog alone in the car under any circumstances, do not let the alarm go off and do not drive for too long at the beginning.

Generally I do not recommend giving a bone or treats to a dog whilst traveling, you want them to be happy and entertained enough just by being in the car. Of course, this does not apply if you have been in stuck for 2 hours in a traffic jam or if your journey is extremely long.


The Dreaded Visit To The Vet


Another thing to keep in mind is the vet. Why the vet you are asking me? Well, if the only time your dog gets in the car is when you bring them to the vet, you can be sure that just the sight of the vehicle will frighten them. As I said above, you want your dog to make this conclusion: CAR = FUN not CAR = PAIN.

Dogs quickly get used to repetitive actions and events, so in order to be sure that you both have a great trip for Christmas, you should try to avoid having them in the car only when you bring them to the vet.




Safety First, Always!

Now that we know how to get our four legged friends used to traveling, it’s time to talk about safety. You have probably noticed many people driving around with their dogs, and everyone has a preferred way. Some people travel with dogs whose heads are hanging out of the window, others keep them in a crate or the boot. Some dogs are so used to car travel that they will simply sit or go to sleep.

As long as you and your dog are safe, and you are following road rules (the Highway Code says that dogs should be ‘suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly,  it is up to you what method of travel you prefer.

My dogs are so used to being in the car that I don’t worry about it at all; for short journeys they lay on the back seats, for longer journey I use this fantastic crate which is very light and easy to transport.


Remember that in this case size matters. A big dog jumping around the car whilst you are speeding down the motorway is potentially dangerous to you and the other drivers on the road. Always remember, safety always comes first.


Unless it is an extreme circumstance, or for a short period, do not leave your dog alone in the car. This is even more important in summer, when high temperatures or a scorching sun might cause harm to your dog.


Last but not least, don’t forget to always have the following items in your car: a compressible dog bowl (really innovative idea and totally brilliant), water, food, lead, spare harness or collar and poo bags. I always also keep a towel in the car for my dogs just in case the stroll in the park turns into a mud fest (you can thank me later for this one).


How to deal with carsickness

Unfortunately, some dogs tend to suffer whilst they are in the car, but there are a few simple things to try before resorting to the use of dog motion sickness medications. Usually puppies have more problems than adult dogs but this usually changes with the age.


A few tips I usually recommend for carsickness are:

  • Short car trips (if possible) and frequent breaks
  • Avoid food consumption prior to traveling
  • Lower the windows or the car heating a little bit


Pay attention to when and where your dog gets sick. If they get sick whilst traveling in the boot, have them sit on the back seat or in a crate (if crate trained). Facing forward may help and a dog seat belt, may be useful in some cases. I have found one on which receives outstanding reviews. It is easy to use and has an amount of flex which will stop the tying themselves in knots. I have found Amazon to be the most competitive seller. Click here for further information

To Wrap up

Fun and safety whilst traveling by car with your dog is easy if you follow a few basic rules. You want your dog to enjoy the experience; you want to see their eyes spark when you open the car door to let them in. Going on holiday with our pets is a fantastic experience but can be stressful, and I have met many people who were clearly distressed at just the thought of it. I hope this article will help you to have a fantastic time for the upcoming festivities.

I look forward to hearing how your travels went and how much fun you and your dogs had. Please comment below.

Thank you for reading my post,

Cordelia & Dolly

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* Images are supplied by pixabay and own library

This is an image of Dolly the Westie, My much loved Dog

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10 Replies to “TRAVELLING BY CAR WITH YOUR DOG – Good Tips”

  1. I recently drove my little bulldog to my grandmother’s house which was about 2 hours away from the city, she really wanted to see and play with my dog. The journey went fine and I didn’t even put him in any dog crates, he was free to roam around the back or even go jump to the front as I didn’t have a car dog net. I’m a little hesitant to put my dog in a crate, especially for extended trips, won’t the dog get really bored or become claustrophobic and start thrashing around?

    1. Thank you for visiting my website and commenting on the post. 

      To answer your question, may I first ask you a question,  if you had to stop unexpectedly and were forced to use your brakes sharply, or indeed if you were involved in an accident do you feel your Bulldog would be safe? May he not be in danger of being thrown? Although a slight risk, would you take that risk if it could be avoided? 

      I completely understand about the crate and the possibility of your dog becoming anxious. Especially if he is not used to being crated. What I would suggest is the dog Safety Belt. (This is a great option) 

      Yes it will restrict the movement, but just like we restrain our children in a car seat or indeed a seat belt for the adult travellers, we sometimes have to do the right thing even though it’s frustrating. We should equally be mindful that our pets rely on us for many things and some of one of these are boundaries, they may not necessarily like the boundaries we put in place and if the dog had a choice maybe he would like to eat all day (especially from the bin) and go out wandering with his mates in a pack and do other things that dogs do….so sometimes we have to be the  “bad cop” as unpopular as that may be. 

       Maybe get him used to the safety belt little and often, just like he got used to his lead/leash  when first venturing out on a walk.  

      Once again thank you for your comments and questions, I know there will be many readers who will feel just like you do and may consider an alternative option as viable 👍


  2. Wow, there is so much information here on what to do when taking my dog in the car. I found this really useful and feel when next I go on vacation I will feel fully prepared when taking my small puppy.  

    This will be the first time that will be travelling with my little fella would so I will try the neighbourhood drive just you mentioned. I like the information about out going to the vet. Thanks

    1. John, 

      Thank you for your comment, I am delighted you found it useful. Let me know how you get on travelling with the little fella. 


  3. Hello Cordella, thanks for this helpful tips on how to travel with our buddy in car. I have not gone on a trip with my dog before and I feel these good would help us get along smoothly when we want to try it. There have been situations where the dog gets suffocated because the owners do not know how to take care of their dog too well. I am glad to have come across this post.

    1. Benson, 

      Thank you so much for commenting on the post on my website. 

      It is a very sad fact that dogs left in the car during the summer can very quickly and easily become severely and dehydrated. Sometimes owners think they may only be away from the car for s couple on minutes but are in fact delayed and even 10 minutes can be fatal. 

      I am pleased you found the post useful. 


  4. For my family, it is quite different, we have both big dog and puppies as well. It is important that I ask you what we do here because it might even be a bit of a hassle for me. I like that you can give this information to tell me what to do when traveling. We are in the holiday period when everyone will like to travel. This post is relevant. Nice work!

    1. Hello John, thank you so much for commenting on the post and for asking the question.

      Other readers often get value from questions which I had not thought about addressing. Regarding your puppy and large dog travelling together. The puppies need to feel safe so I would suggest the travelling crate. For the large dog perhaps look at the “Dog Safety Belt” they have some flex, bit like a bungee chord and will therefore stop the dog getting caught up or hassling the puppies. 

      If you have a hatchback or estate car then would also consider the larger dog being placed in the boot with a cage this will have the added benefit of safety, stopping him being thrown. 

      Good luck 👍

  5. Thanks so much for your tips on travelling with a dog. I never would have thought this would be a difficult issue until my newest puppy was terrified at just the sight of the car even though as far as I know, she’s had no bad experiences with a vehicle. I will try to ease her into the process and with any luck we’ll be making trips everywhere together in no time. 

    Thanks again for your insight and expertise, I really appreciate it!

    1. I am sorry to hear about your Puppy, but it is quite a common problem. I am pleased  that my post may offer help and guidance. I would love to hear about your progress and what worked for you. 

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my web site.. 👍

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