Top tips for travelling with your dog in the car

When you’re traveling on your bike or in the car safety is of paramount importance. You wear a helmet on the bike and while in the car, the seat belts go without saying. We strap our children into their respective car seats when on the road, so why not our dogs?

When thinking of a road trip, or moving with your dog, it's absolutely adorable to see a dog with his head outside the window, tongue out and the look of glee and ecstasy in his eyes, common sense has to prevail after a point and we need to think about safety when travelling with your dog.

Being safe while travelling with your dog

If I wouldn’t let my child stick his head out of the window on the highway, my question is why should the dog be any different? It’s really important that we all become aware of the safety features in the car that ought to be applied to all living beings in it.

I don't know about you, but I treat my dog like my child

I wouldn't let my child hang out in the window with their head and tongues flapping about, so should we be doing that with our dogs? 

miniature-dachshund-black-tan

I grew up with a dachshund called Joe. He loved to travel. I don’t remember many road trips I have taken without him in it. Just as my mother trained us to strap in we went through a similar process with him.

Luckily these days the seat belts in the car works just as well to keep your dog strapped in as it does any other passenger.

Remember to stop for plenty of toilet stops

Cesar MilanDog trainer and TV Personality

Travelling long distances can be very tiring for the dog just as it is for us. So make sure that your pet is cosy and not in any discomfort in the car. A cranky dog in the car is as unpleasant as a cranky child, no fun for the driver or other passengers.

Jim Telford over at Petsafe said:

If your pet does spend much time outdoors, you should be mindful of the signs of heatstroke in dogs which include:

  • Panting
  • Staring
  • Anxious expression
  • Refusal to obey commands
  • Warm, dry skin
  • High fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

Remember that heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you have reason to believe your pet is suffering from heatstroke, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Bottom line - don't cook your dog!

Things to take with you when travelling with your dog in the car

While travelling with a dog in the car the following items need to be present in the car in case the need arises:

      • His favourite chew toys such as a big bone or a soft ball. A squeaky toy is best avoided as it can annoy everyone in the car.
      • His favourite blanket to keep cosy
      • A dog-pillow and/or his cushion bed
      • Portable dog water bottle and a bowl, we recommend the spill proof bowl from
      • The seat belt adapter
      • A harness to prevent injury to the dog in case he tugs at the leash. A chest plate is highly recommended.
      • A retractable leash to ensure the dog doesn’t strangle himself or get hurt. Dog collars can be quite dangerous and should be avoided on car journeys
      • A nice big towel similar to a beach towel to keep the seats clean. Our favourite is the
      • Wet-wipes to make sure he doesn’t dirty the car with his paws or doggy-drool

Consider other passengers in the car too!

Not everyone is a dog lover, it’s sad but true! While some folk can tolerate them to a certain level, others are simply terrified and they won’t travel with dogs. They are unable to even be in the same room as the dog, forget the car. So in such situations, care must be taken to ensure that the fellow human passenger is also just as comfortable with his canine companion.

The amount of space in such a case is restricted when it comes to freedom of movement given to the dog. Especially if the person afraid of the dog is in the driver’s seat.​

Buying the right dog restraint

It makes good sense to ensure that the dog is comfortable with his set of toys and that his restraint is intact and in good condition.

A jumping and over excited dog will only lead to accidents, irrespective of who is driving the car.

A pet safety belt and a safety seat is also a very good idea. Just like children, some dogs can also be over active and hyper. It makes good sense to be prepared for any eventuality.

In case the dog is seated in a crate, the crate must be kept in a nice snug place so that it also does not slide around the car. It can be placed either on the floor or between the seats.

Making the crate familiar to the dog prior to the ride will help simplify the transition. A familiar smell or a favourite towel can be placed in the floor of the crate to bring home a sense of familiarity to the four legged travel companion.

A sudden break in a high speed travel can be just as dangerous to the dog as it is to a human and he can get thrown off from his seat too.

John Williams Pet shop owner

Make it cosy when you’re in the car

Dogs and humans are both liable to get cramped when seated at the same place in the same position for a long time. So it is a good idea to help exercise the dog and make him run a few rounds before and during pit stops, especially if a long journey is ahead.

Never leave your dog in the car with the windows closed.


It is absolutely dangerous to leave the dog in the parked car on a hot day even if for a short duration. The dogs temperature can rise to dangerous levels in as little as 10 minutes which can cause heat stroke..In preparation for a travel, it is a good idea to train the dog and get him used to short trips before thrusting a long journey down his throat. It’s always a good idea to use positive reinforcement when you’re teaching your puppy or dog to ride in the car.

In preparation for a travel, it is a good idea to train the dog and get him used to short trips before thrusting a long journey down his throat. It’s always a good idea to use positive reinforcement when you’re teaching your puppy or dog to ride in the car.

Making sure your dog is watered and fed

Depending on the duration of the trip and the ability of a dog to sit in a confined space for long, the feed must be planned accordingly. If the dog is prone to get car sick, it makes sense to feed him an hour or two before the start of the journey.

If the dog gets sick during travel, it is a good idea to block the outside view so that he feels better. The motion of the vehicle combined with looking outside will aggravate his sickness.

Contrary to how it works with humans, comforting a distressed dog during road travel while in the car could make the dog assume that something really bad is about to happen and he might end up feeling worse. Ignore any bad behaviour like barking or wining, and encourage your dog with positive praise when he is quiet, settled or doing anything worth rewarding.

A reward like his favourite toy, or a game with his favourite toy to the dog at the end of the trip will make him realise that good behaviour is indeed appreciated and will look forward to more brownie points.

When you’re travelling on your bike or in the car safety is of paramount importance. You wear a helmet on the bike and while in the car, the seat belts go without saying. We strap our children in to to their respective car seats when on the road, so why not our dogs?

1 Comment
  1. Reply Kathreen Miller 27th February 2017 at 7:21 am

    Traveling with pets can be difficult sometimes. My dog suffers from vomiting, panting and anxious expressions. this article really helped me a lot very informative thanks a ton.

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