Are you planning to travel with a puppy in a car? Road-tripping with your puppy can be a lot of fun or a total nightmare without proper preparation. Although puppies can be calmer and more obedient during car rides, compared with bigger and older dogs, there are several things to consider for a safe trip.  To make sure everyone has a good time, we’ve put together some tips you can follow to make your dogs safe and comfortable as they ride.

Preparing for the Journey

Traveling with a puppy in the car can be an exciting adventure but first, you need to make sure they are safe. Here are essential steps to prepare for a smooth and enjoyable journey:

Safety Considerations

Puppies can either be behaved or naughty. Either way, you need to put them in a proper crate when traveling. Unrestrained puppies can be a significant distraction and can pose risks to accidents. Unless your puppy is already trained, then you should take precautions when bringing puppies with you while driving. Don’t forget to check the safety guide for dogs in the car article.

Puppy Car Readiness

Before embarking on a long trip, introduce your puppy to the car environment gradually. Begin with short practice trips around the block or to a nearby park, offering positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise. Make these initial experiences enjoyable, helping your puppy associate the car with positivity.

Packing Essentials

Create a checklist of essential items to pack for your puppy. Include their regular food, water, collapsible bowls, a leash, collar with ID tags containing your contact information, blankets for comfort, favorite toys to keep them entertained, waste bags for pit stops, and any necessary medications or grooming supplies. Familiar items from home can provide a sense of security during the journey.

Identification and Documentation

Proper identification is crucial in case your puppy gets separated from you during the trip. Ensure your puppy is microchipped, and carry their microchip information with you. Attach a secure ID tag to their collar with your name and contact information. Additionally, bring along updated veterinary records, including vaccination certificates and any necessary health documentation, in case they are required during the journey.

Cute dog in sunglasses driving a car on the beach at sunset

Ensuring Comfort and Safety

Puppies cannot verbally express to humans how they are feeling. Hence, you might be confused by the different non-verbal cues they’re giving you when inside the car.

Proper Restraints and Carriers

Choose the right method for restraining your puppy in the car. You can put them in a comfortable crate or car barriers. Crates offer security and prevent distractions while you’re driving. You can also invest in a pet seat belt but this is only applicable if your puppy knows how to behave.

Securing the Car Environment

Create a safe and comfortable car environment for your puppy. Avoid extreme temperatures by ensuring proper heating or cooling, depending on the weather. Use sunshades to protect your puppy from direct sunlight. Ensure adequate ventilation by cracking windows or using vents to prevent overheating. Secure any loose items in the car to prevent them from becoming hazards during sudden stops.

Regular Breaks and Exercise

Plan for regular breaks during your journey to allow your puppy to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and get some exercise. Designate safe rest areas or pet-friendly spots where your puppy can explore and burn off energy. Use this time for short walks and play sessions to keep your puppy engaged and prevent restlessness.

Hydration and Nutrition

Provide water during travel to keep your puppy well-hydrated. Use a spill-proof water dispenser or offer water during rest stops. Be mindful of scheduled feeding times and avoid large meals immediately before or during the trip to reduce the risk of motion sickness. Stick to your puppy’s regular feeding routine as much as possible and consider smaller, more frequent meals. Avoid overfeeding, as a full stomach can contribute to discomfort during car rides.

Handling Common Concerns

Car rides can sometimes pose specific challenges for puppies, but with the right strategies, you can address and overcome common concerns. The following are some tips you can do to address common concerns when you have a puppy in the car.

Motion Sickness

Puppies are prone to motion sickness, which can make car travel uncomfortable for them. To address this concern, gradually acclimate your puppy to car travel by taking short practice. Ensure proper ventilation and avoid abrupt stops. Keep the windows open to allow your dogs to watch the scenery and breathe fresh air.

Anxiety And Stress

Puppies can easily feel anxious when riding a car, especially because they are not familiar with the environment. Being separated from their moms is also another factor. So, consider using calming aids like pheromone sprays or vests that mimic the comforting scents of their mother. Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to create positive associations with car travel.

Litter of Puppies in pickup

Car Safety Hazards

Inside the car, potential safety hazards can pose risks to your puppy. Always ensure windows are rolled up enough to prevent your puppy from sticking their head out or falling out. Secure loose objects that could become projectiles during sudden stops or turns. Check the back seat for any toxic substances that your puppy could access, such as cleaning supplies or small items that they may swallow. Use car barriers or pet seat belts to keep your puppy safely in their designated area, preventing them from interfering with the driver or becoming injured in the event of an accident.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Travel with Puppy in Car

How long can I travel with a puppy in the car?

It depends on a lot of factors like breed, age, and temperament. In general, you can take on short rides for about 1 to 2 hours at least once or twice a week. Then you can gradually increase the hours. If you plan to take longer trips, you need to plan for breaks.  Do not take your puppy to a long trip if it is not ready yet.

Can I leave my puppy alone in the car?

It is not advisable to leave your puppy alone in the car, especially in extreme weather conditions. In hot weather, the temperature inside a car can rise rapidly, leading to heatstroke, even with the windows cracked. In cold weather, your puppy could become dangerously cold. Additionally, leaving a puppy alone in a car can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for them. If you need to step away from the car, make sure someone stays with your puppy or use a pet-friendly establishment with proper facilities for dogs.

Should I use a car harness or a crate for my puppy?

Whether to use a car harness or a crate for your puppy depends on several factors, including your puppy’s size, temperament, and comfort level. If your puppy likes to lie down, you can use the harness. But if your puppy likes to move a lot, then you need to put it in the crate unless you have other passengers who can take care of it.


Traveling with your puppy can be a fun and rewarding experience. Puppies are great companions for humans.  They can bring a unique kind of joy and excitement during road trips. Imagine, getting your puppy on board for every adventure you want to try. Whether you want to camp in the woods or fish in the sea, safe car travel with a puppy should be your priority. Most puppies are naughty and energetic, so you need to be more responsible as an owner. Follow expert tips for traveling with a puppy and avoid mishaps on the road.

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