Tips for Taking Your Dog or Puppy with You in the Car on a Road Trip or a Long Drive

Some dogs love being in the car, others hate it. Getting your dog used to the car when he or she is a puppy can make going on long drives or road trips infinitely easier than if you only take your dog to the vet in the car. Dogs are smart creatures and they often make associations with good and bad experiences. Do your part to make your pet’s traveling experience a good one!

Road trips, vacations on the road, and long drives can be a lot of fun with your dog or puppy if you take the right approach to getting your dog accustomed to the car and providing a safe and pleasant environment while in the car. To make every car traveling experience as pleasant as possible for both you and your pet dog or puppy on a long drive or road trip, consider the following tips.

Testing the Waters – Make Sure Your Pup Likes the Car
“Before embarking on a long road trip, make sure your pup is okay with the car,” says Lisa Epstein, PETCO spokesperson. “It’s best to start as a puppy and slowly acclimate her to the car with treats so she associates it with a good place. Try taking short trips around the block, in her crate for some, to make sure your dog is ready for a longer trip and to make sure she doesn’t get car sick. Be sure to give lots of praise and treats when she’s being a good passenger.”

Prepare Your Vehicle for Your Pet before Leaving Home
“Avoid a permanent reminder of your car trip with your pet by dog-proofing your car,” advises Lisa Epstein, PETCO spokesperson. “Placing a plastic tablecloth on the backseat can save your upholstery, but the best method is usually to use his crate if he is not potty trained.”

“Make sure tags are up to date with your contact information,” Epstein adds. “For additional security, step into a local PETCO and have a temporary tag made with your destination like your camp site or sister’s address. At all times, the tag should be attached to your dog’s collar.”

Epstein also recommends familiarizing the puppy with its carrier or kennel to avoid any unnecessary drama when the pup is in it for a few hours at a time.

Pack Any Necessary Items for Your Dog, Including Food, Water, Etc.
Depending on the length of your road trip or car ride, you might be able to pack your dog’s food in a medium or large size Ziploc bag. Epstein also recommends creating a check list of items to pack for your dog, which should typically include food, treats, toys, plastic bags, flea and tick repellant, brushes and combs, and any medicines the pup might need. You might also pack bottled water to prevent an upset tummy if the water is very different from what your pet is used to drinking.

Ensure the Safety of Your Pet While in the Car and During Pit Stops
The safety of your dog or puppy should be your top priority whenever traveling with your pet in a car or during a road trip. Consider the following tips to help you keep your dog safe and secure in the car while you are driving.

Choose a safe collar. PETCO recommends a car-friendly dog collar for traveling in the car. Experts at PETCO advise against using a choke collar, pinch collar, training collar, or any other kind of dog collar that could hurt or choke your dog during the trip. Velcro collars and other breakaway collars tend to be best and safest for car travel.

Make sure your pooch is secure. Whether in a carrier, with a car safety harness, or on a favorite blanket, PETCO recommends keeping your dog securely fastened in case of an accident or abrupt slamming of the breaks.

“Forget those picturesque moments of dogs with their heads out the windows – it is dangerous,” says Epstein. “Loose objects, dust, and debris can harm your dog.”

Don’t leave your dog or puppy unattended in the car. Leaving a pet in the car is dangerous, especially in very hot or very cold weather. If you must leave your pup for a very brief errand, PETCO recommends cracking the windows enough to let some air in but not enough that your pet could snap at passersby.

Stopping every four to six hours should be sufficient so your dog can stretch and relieve him or herself. For puppies and dogs that are not potty trained, you may want to stop a little more often. Epstein recommends keeping your pet on the leash at all times to avoid getting near to traffic or getting lost.

You can also keep your pet on the usual feeding schedule, Epstein notes, but you can feed a bit less food than usual since your dog will probably spend most of the time in the car sleeping.


With these tips on traveling in cars with your dog or puppy, you should be able to have a pleasant driving and traveling experience, whether on a long drive or a road trip. Your dog also should have a more enjoyable ride, which ultimately makes your life easier. And remember, safety first!

2 thoughts on “Tips for Taking Your Dog or Puppy with You in the Car on a Road Trip or a Long Drive”

  1. I wanted to share this good resource for travelers. I recently experienced the loss of my wallet with all my credit cards while traveling abroad and got it back the next day thanks to a little label that I had on it. I got the label from and tagged all my valuables before going away following the advice of a friend who had a similar experience. You may want to tell your traveling friends about this free service at

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