How to Travel with a Dog in a Car

Are you looking for advise how to travel with a dog in a car?

If you are a pet parent, you know how difficult it feels to leave him or her behind whenever you hit the roads. Whether it's a short drive for shopping or those long road trips, you do not want to go without your dog.

what to pack if you travel with your dog in a car


Unfortunately, traveling with your dog can be a nightmare, especially if it is a long drive. There is a lot you need to do to keep your dog safe during the entire journey. But, with good preparation and adequate safety measures in place, your journey is going to be fun and memorable. 

The truth is a lot of cars are made without considering dogsor pets for that matter. But, this is not reason enough to leave your dog at home. We are sharing everything on how to travel with a dog in a car. From having the right dog car seat covers to packing the right essentials, we got your back. 

Keep reading, and it has never been better, more exciting, and more comfortable having your dog in car. 

 Essentials for Traveling With Your Dog in A Car

essentials tips for traveling with your dog in a car

If you want a safe and stress-free trip with your dog, ensure you carry all the required accessories. Pack all essentials to secure your dog while still ensuring your pet's comfort. If this is your first time doing this, you need a checklist on how to travel with a dog in a car and tick every item on it. 

First, you need to know your dog's traits. Is he playful, or is she a calm and reserved dog? If she or he is a playful dog, you do not want to have accessories that would entirely confine your dog to the car seat. 

However, do not leave anything to chance. 

Before Trip

If you are going on a trip with your dog, you want to ensure that he is in perfect health. This is important, especially if you are going for an extended trip. Ensure that all your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. 

You also want to shop for all the needed accessories and supplies before the trip. For food, ensure you bring both dry and wet supplies that you normally feed the dog.

Also, look up for contacts you can quickly call during an emergency. A sick dog in car will definitely spoil the fun, and you should do all you can to avoid such an ending.

Ensure you have your vet's phone number just in case anything comes up. For long trips, find a vet you can contact closer to your destination or on the way.

This way, you will get help even when you are far from your regular vet. But, beware that your emergency vet may need to communicate to your regular vet.

 What To Pack 

How to travel with a dog in a car comes with specific requirements you should pack. Whether you are going for a long or short trip, ensure you enough bottled water.

Your dog needs to stay hydrated all through the road trips. In fact, always have bottled water in your car's emergency kit. Also, a bowl you can use for drinking will come in handy.  

Other things you need to pack include:

  • Sufficient dry and wet dog food
  • Your dog's favorite toys
  • Dog poop bags
  • A towel or even a dry blanket for your dog to lie in or to cover the crate
  • Treats
  • Medication, if any
  • Medical and vaccination certificates from the vet
  • Your dog's picture that you can show people just in case you get separated
  • Sunscreen
  • Dog car seat covers to avoid scratches and tears. Depending on your vehicle, there are seat covers for trucks, suvs, sedans, teslas and much more. 

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Pro Tip: The success of how to travel with a dog in a car begins with bringing everything you need for safety and comfort. 

Getting Your Pet Used To the Car

Before you set out to travel with your dog, ensure the dog is used to being in the car. Have him in the car, and let him get used to the environment. Do not drive yet. Spend some time with him secured in his place and stay in the car. 

If you are going for long road trips, having some short trips may be in your neighborhood is a good bet. The short trips will help your dog get used to the moving car. This will prevent restlessness when the real journey begins. 

During these test trips, some dogs will be fine. You will notice some have anxiety or getting affected with motion sickness. If this is the case, be sure to talk to your vet about the appropriate medication. 

During The Trip 

traveling with your dog in the car

How to travel with a dog in a car starts when you hit the road. The first thing you should know just before your road trip is how to avoid carsickness. The surest way to beat it is by ensuring your dog's stomach is empty.

Feed your dog 3-4 hours before the start of the actual journey. Do not feed him or her in a moving car. Feed him during the breaks, and take some more time for digestion to occur. 

During the car travel, ensure your vehicle is excellently ventilated1. If you travel while your dog is in your crate, ensure free airflow in the crate. 

Also, do not let the dog stick his head out. The dog sticking his head out could lead to injuries, especially eye injuries. Also, avoid riding your dog in the back of an open truck. This can be extremely dangerous because it can lead to injuries or even death.

During the trip, ensure you stop for some exercises and potty breaks. 

How do you avoid having dog hair all over your car seats? Dog Seat covers are the answer.

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Staying Safe on the Road 

A dog is usually a loved member of any family, thanks to her loyalty and kindness. For this reason, people will want to tease and play around with the dog during the trip. Refrain from teasing or annoying the dog while on the trip. Warn the kids from doing it too.

Secondly, ensure your crate is crash-tested. Many people know that traveling with the dog is more effective and safe when he is in a crate. But do you know how safe the crate needs to be?

  1. First, it is vital to ensure your crate is safety-certified. Also, ensure you select the right size of the tray. Furthermore, select something that will have a good flow of air. 
  2. Also, crash bags may help insulate your dog in case of emergency breaks. You can have a crate with the crash bags. 
  3. Thirdly, ensure the windows are well closed. Other than the injuries that may be sustained, some dogs have been known to jump out of moving cars. It may start as simple enjoyment of the breeze, but overexcited dogs will jump off moving cars. 

It is tempting to cuddle up with your dog when driving. Anyway, who doesn't like the coziness of being close to their dog? This can seriously be fatal. Never drive with your dog on your laps or in open spaces such as the back of a pickup.


Staying Safe off the Road

Just like driving with kids, you need to give your dogs a break after 2-3 hours of driving. Even if you can drive for longer, take a break for your dog. 

Do not leave pets unattended in the car. If you have to leave, leave with him. Or ensure he has company in the car. It is for the safety of your pet. On a regular day, temperatures can rise to approximately 120°F a few minutes, even if the windows are wide open. These high temperatures can result in brain damage, heatstroke, suffocation, and in extreme cases, death.

Besides, at least 14 states- New Jersey among them- will fine you heavily for leaving the pets unattended in the car. During the breaks, allow your dog to get out, have potty breaks, and get some exercise (1).


Healthy and Safety Tips When Traveling With A Dog In A Car 

health and safety tips for traveling in the car with your dog

One thing that should be a priority about how to travel with a dog in a car is safety: yours and the dog. The first and essential safety tip is to ensure your doors are locked. A simple press with the paws can have the dog fall out. 

No doubt, the best way to ensure you travel safely with your dog in a car is to have him or her safely restrained. Strap him safely in the backseat. The front seat could result in injuries just in case the airbags get deployed. 

The best restraint for your dog will largely depend on your dog's size and sometimes the breed. Smaller dogs travel best in a carrier. Just having him or her in a carrier is not enough. You should use your dog seat belt to secure the carrier. 

For larger pets, use crates (2). Any crate you use should be well-padded and cushioned. . If it is not well padded, your dog may sustain injuries in case of instant breaking. 

Furthermore, you could opt for a harness to secure your dog while on the road. You can go for a harness that is attachable to your car's seat belt or go for straps attachable to the car's ceiling.

Whatever restraint you settle for, ensure it gives your pet some mobility. It is not healthy to have your dog entirely immobile for hours of driving.


After Trip

It is not enough to have your dog safe during the trip. Remember, you are now away from home. It is vital to ensure he is safe away from home too. If you are staying away, you want to provide a home away from home for your dog. 

At the end of the drive, give your dog time to exercise and relax.


Always find in advance whether a hotel or motel allows its clients to have dogs. Beware that many hotels do not, and many have a lot of restrictions, especially with size. 

If they allow your dog in, it is your business to ensure you have a safe stay at the hotel. Ensure that you do not destroy any property and distract any staff or guests.

Do not leave your dog unattended in the lodging. Many will start destroying property or barking loudly. 

You can always ask the hotel management for a place you can walk the dog.

Just ensure that you keep your dog in control. Rowdy behavior could make the management ban clients from bringing dogs. Be considerate of the other people who would love to tag along with their dogs.


FAQs About How To Travel with A Dog In A Car

Here are a few common questions concerning how to travel with a dog in a car. Quickly find tips on how to travel with your dogs in this segment.


What Is The Best Way To Travel With A Dog In A Car? 

One great tip to traveling with your dog is by ensuring he or she is safe and comfortable. And it is by ensuring that you too and the other people driving with you are safe and comfortable as well. 

Dogs can be playful and overexcited during trips. Now, it is in your docket to ensure your dog is safe and calm through the drive. You also must ensure he feels like he is at home. You also have to ensure the road and state's rules and followed.


How Do You Drive A Dog Long Distance?

You drive a dog long distances by following these rules:

  • Make the dog comfortable with car rides. 
  • Before going on long trips, take short trips with the dog to habituate them in the car. 
  • Pack all the dog essentials.
  • Feed them long before the journey.
  • Make rest stops often.
  • Ensure the dogs are vaccinated before going on long trips. 
  • Get the dog tired before the journey.
  • Install a dog seat cover with safety harnesses or a hammock.


How Long Can You Travel With A Dog in a Car?

Driving can be exhausting and draining for both the driver and the people riding in the car. When going for long trips with the dog, ensure you take breaks every 2-3 hours. Usually, the thumb rule is 2 hours, but this can vary depending on the dog's age. 

Do not extend this time, especially if you are traveling with your dog in a pet carrier or crate. The breaks are essential for exercising and getting over the exhaustion buildup.

Can Dogs Handle Long Car Rides?

Just like humans, long road trips can be frustrating and tiresome for pets too. The pets can handle long road trips, but of course, it will be difficult for them. But, with regular breaks every2-3 hours, you can make the long road trips bearable for the pet. 

How Do You Restrain A Dog In A Car?

Restraining dogs in a car can be a little stressful. Usually, the regular car seat belt would not restrain your dog in the car. 

There are several ways you can restrain your dog in the car. Using a dog seat belt is one of the best ways to have your dog in position while driving. Use the dog seat belt to strap him or her at the back of the car. 

Secondly, consider getting a dog crate. This is also considered one of the convenient ways to travel with your dog. Crates are good for confident, calm, and relaxed dogs. However, when you get the crate, ensure it is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around.

You can also use a dog plush box—also, a dog guard in the boot.

Where Should The Dog Sit In A Car?  

One rule of the thump on how to travel with a dog in a carnever drive with your dog in front seat of the car. And never in the open like a back of a pickup. You may have secured the dog in a crate, dog seat belt, and even more.

You still put him or her at risk if you drive in the front seat. The safest place to have your dog is in the backseat of your car.


Can The Dog Sit On Your Lap While Driving? 

It is illegal to drive with the dog on your laps. Many people get tempted to get cuddly with the dog while driving. Besides being just illegal in several states, it is dangerous to you, the dog, and other road users. 

Having the dog on your laps limits your proper ability to steer, indicate, and see the road. For safety purposes, strap your dog in the backseat of your car.

Should dogs sit in the front or back seat? 

Dogs should sit in the backseat of the car because it is a safer option than sitting in the front seat. But, if the dog owner takes proper safety measures, they can also make the pets sit in the front seats while traveling. 

Some safety measures for the front seat are: 

  • Move the sit far back to avoid any kind of danger.
  • Make sure the passenger-side airbags are turned off. 
  • Carry the dog in a crate or a carrier.

Besides, put the dogs in the front seat only when it's absolutely necessary because dogs are best secured in the back seat of the car. Fasten them with pet seat belts or safety harnesses, and it’s good to go. Dog seat covers are also ideal for securing dogs in the back seat when traveling long distances.

How do you put a dog in a car cover? 

You put a dog in a car cover in the following simple steps-

  • First, install the dog seat cover in the car. 
  • Ensure the straps and hooks are correctly placed, or the dog can fall off the cover.
  • Bring the dog to the car. 
  • Let them hop on the car if they are trained to do so. 
  • If not, carry the dog and put them on the seat. 
  • Get the dog to sit down on the car seat cover.
  • To ensure safety, use a harness or a pet seat belt and fasten the dog to the seats.

This way, the dog owners can carry dogs in the car without worrying about them falling or slipping.

Do big dogs need car seats?

Yes, big dogs need car seats because they can distract the driver if allowed to sit freely in the car. They can jump into the front seat and block the driver’s view, which is very dangerous. Hence, having a car seat can help in such situations.

Besides, even if the dog is well-behaved, it’s dangerous for them to sit on the passenger seat without a dog car seat and a harness. So the best option is to buy a dog car seat or dog seat covers to keep the dog and pet owner safe in the car.

How do you transport a dog in a car without a crate? 

You transport a dog in a car without a crate by following these simple steps:

  • Put the dogs in the back seat of the car.
  • Let them lay on a dog car seat or a dog car seat cover.
  • Secure them with pet seat belts or safety harnesses.
  • Put the car seat belt through the loop of the pet seat belt and buckle them up.
  • Adjust the harness or seat belt according to their comfort and safety.

You can also transport the dogs with the help of dog carriers, cardboard boxes, bed and car seat combos, pet car barriers, and booster seats.

How do you cover a dog in a car?

You cover a dog in a car by laying them on a dog seat cover and putting a blanket over them. This way, the dogs are secure and warm without the chance of falling off the seats.

Final Thoughts about Traveling with Your Dog in a Car 

A lot of cars are not designed to have you travel with your dog. This means that traveling with your dog can be pretty tricky and unsafe. But you can now use travel hacks and tip to have a safe time with your dog on the road. Just ensure you have everything you need, your dog is safe, and follow all the road rules. 

Now you know how to travel with a dog in a car. Go out and have nice road trips with your dog in the company!



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