7 ways to keep your dog safe and happy on car journeys

If you’re going on a long car journey with your pooch, their safety and happiness is an important consideration.

Without proper preparation your dog could wind up stressed and bored, or god forbid, put in harms way. Coming unprepared can make road trips unbearable for pup and your family. Not to mention dangerous if they become a distraction for the driver.

So to ensure your car journeys are a pleasant ride for all humans and our four legged friends, here are a few useful tips to consider before heading out.

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Safety first

Restraining your dog in the car ensures both you and your dog’s safety. Without restraint, your dog can roam around in the back seat or even climb in the driver’s lap! It only takes one lapse of concentration to cause a fatal accident.

Safety precautions will provide support for your dog should you have an accident too. Here’s a few options to ponder:

A crate (like this one) gives your dog a comfortable and secure space where they can relax. This can either be placed in the boot or on your back seat.

You could also consider a doggy seat belt. This attaches to your dog’s harness and plugs straight into the normal seatbelts in your car.

You could use a car carry box. Most suited to smaller dogs, this fits securely to the back seat. Simply put your dog into the harness and clip it to the carry box.

For larger dogs you could use a backseat barrier. These clip onto the back of the two front seats to provide extra support for your dog. It also stops your pooch surfing to the front if they’re eager to come see you!



Provide entertainment

For long car rides, your dog may become bored sitting in the same spot for long periods. Let’s face it, motorways aren’t the most exciting experiences! And if your dog is anxious about being in the car, offering a distraction could help settle the mind.

Give your dog something to do to pass the time. Bring some long-lasting chews like:

Bully sticks



Buffalo horns

Cow ears

Beef trachea

Or buy a new toy they’ve never seen before for them to explore. When you next take a break, you can play for a quick 5 minutes with the new toy before heading off again.


Temperature control

It can be difficult to control the temperature of a vehicle, especially on warm days. Be sure to monitor your car’s temperature often –  dogs feel the heat more than we do. If it’s on the warm side and you notice fido panting, crack open a window or turn on the AC.


Tackle dehydration

Make sure your dog has plenty of opportunity to rehydrate along the way. It can be easy to forget if you’re against the clock to reach your destination. But in a warm car and with plenty of treats on offer, they may be thirstier than normal.

At the very least, bring along their water bowl and keep a water bottle to hand. You could also take a collapsible water bowl with you. Or get a non-spill bowl you can place in the car so your dog has constant access to drinking water.


Take breaks

It’s advisable to take regular breaks around every two hours. This will give your pooch an opportunity to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, have a drink or a bite to eat.

Find a suitable place to stop with a grassed area for a toilet break. If your dog’s feeling restless, it would be ideal to stop by a field or a park so they can run off that excess energy.

If you’re taking a break and need to use the facilities yourself. Never leave your dog in the car alone on a hot day. Even if you leave the window open a crack, the temperature can quickly rise to scorching levels. Have your family take it in turns to stay with your dog while you use the bathroom.


Wear them out first

Taking your dog on a long car journey without taking them for a walk first, is a recipe for disaster. Your dog will be full of energy which could leak out in all sorts of problem behaviours. How would you act if you were confined when you’re wide awake and raring to go? Tetchy maybe?

It could result in your dog bouncing around in the back seat, barking excessively or chewing on things they shouldn’t.

If your dog is tired they may snooze their way through the whole journey. So make time before you leave to let them go wild. Take them to the local dog park to meet friends or go on a long walk. You could also do a couple of training sessions as this will help pup wind down too.


Practice beforehand  

If your dog isn’t used to road trips or is anxious about being in the car, avoid throwing them in head first. They may often go in the car for short periods, but you never know how they’ll react after a few hours.

Build it up slowly over a few weeks to help your dog feel comfortable and acclimatised. Take them out for 20 minutes, then 40 minutes, then an hour and so on. This will help your dog normalise being in the car for long periods. So when the day comes it won’t be a massive shock to their system.


Plan and prepare and you’ll no doubt have a great start to your holiday. What is your routine to get pup prepared for long car rides before going away? Let me know in the comments below…


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