Going for a Joy Ride? 4 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for Car Travel

Dogs shouldn’t have to stay stuck inside the house. Being energetic animals, they should be free to explore the outside world as well. The best way to do this is to take your furry pal for a joy ride to a destination he or she hasn’t been to.

Unfortunately, not all dogs are naturally ready for long drives. It may be fun to take your pooch along but the feeling may not be the same for him or her.

To ensure that your four-legged friend only has the best experience, here are safety tips to consider before putting him or her in the car for a road trip:

1. Determine how you will restrain your dog inside the vehicle

It’s not safe to allow pets to roam around your car without any type of restraints. If your dog is a nervous passenger, consider placing him or her inside a pet carrier or crate. This is the most effective way to keep your dog under control while you’re driving in order to avoid accidents.

If you don’t want to place your dog in a pet crate or cage, consider the following alternatives:

  • Rear confinement

Confine your pooch to the rear of your vehicle and place a wire grid to prevent him from climbing over the back of the seats. Line the area with blankets or place your dog’s bed in the corner so that he or she can nap comfortably throughout the journey. Make sure to put away any loose items such as bottles or bowls.

  • Dog safety seat

This is far more comfortable for your dog than a carrier especially if the car suddenly turns or stops. Opt for bucket seats which can be attached to front or back seats, and can contain any liquids or solids that your pooch may excrete.

  • Car seatbelts

If you only have a two-seater car and don’t want your dog confined, this is a great option. Make sure to attach car seat-belts to a harness and not a collar to prevent your pooch from choking.

2. Pack appropriate dog supplies and gears

When embarking on a long trip, you should have all the appropriate supplies that your dog needs to stay comfortable and happy.

This includes blankets for padding, water, dog food, plastic bags for waste, and your dog’s favorite toys. Bringing along toys will help keep your dog preoccupied throughout the journey.

Always keep a dog collar on his or her neck

When driving for long distances, you can’t ignore the possibility that your dog may get out of the vehicle and run away or get lost. No matter how well-behaved your pooch is, always keep a dog collar on him or her. This will ensure that he or she can be identified even if he or she gets accidentally loose while you’re on the road.

3. Consult with your vet before the trip

If you have plans on taking your dog for a long ride, talk to your vet ahead of time and ask about the possibility of car sickness. Never self-medicate your pooch without a vet’s guidance. If your dog has problems with hyperactivity, ask your vet for a mild sedative that will be safe to use on your canine.

4. Prepare your dog for the ride

If your dog is still not used to riding in a car, let him get accustomed to it gradually. Start by allowing your pooch to roam inside your car while the engine is off. Then, start taking your dog on short trips (like going to the supermarket) until he or she becomes familiar with car travel.

  • If you plan on using a pet crate or carrier, introduce your dog to one.

Present the crate, carrier or cage to your dog in a positive light. Allow him to sniff the item before you place it inside the car. Let your dog voluntarily get into the container by luring him or her with treats.

  • Exercise your pooch before placing him or her inside the car.

Your dog needs to be a little tired before travel so that he or she won’t be too active during the ride.

  • Don’t feed your pooch before the trip.

Feed your dog at least a few hours before embarking on your road trip so that you can prevent him or her from feeling car sick.

Two for the road

A joy ride should be a fun experience for both you and your dog.

Through careful preparation and consideration of your canine’s welfare, you can ensure a comfortable and safe journey for everyone going on the trip.

To make the experience even more pleasant for your pooch, give him or her a treat for making it through with the best behavior.


Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.