Pet Travel. Made Easy.

How To Make Car Rides With Dogs A Breeze

Hey, we’re not the only ones with great ideas to make traveling with your pets easier and more fun. Today we have a guest post from Sonia Charry, author of the Big Dog Blog at If you’ve finally worked up the courage to try a trip with your dog or have added a new pooch to your family recently, these tips are like gold. Start here and your dog will be ready for his first road trip in no time! 


Sonia from and Nala

Do you have visions of hitting the road with your dog? Whether your car rides together are to the vet or on a cross-country adventure, there are plenty of ways to make the trip enjoyable and safe for both you and your dog. Try these 4 tips to make car rides exciting for your dog and easy for you:

1. Make them positive

For many dogs, a car ride automatically means they’re going to the vet. If that’s the only time he gets in the car, he’ll quickly associate car rides with stress and pain. Instead, take your dog in the car for other reasons:

  • Visit friends and family for an  evening
  • Explore a dog park on the other side of town
  • Go for a day trip to a scenic stop nearby
  • Head to the farmer’s market or any other dog-friendly event

You get the idea. Start with short trips and extend the distances as your dog gets more comfortable. Once a ride means adventure, your dog will be excited to get in the car.

2. Travel on an empty stomach

Dogs who get car sick will not enjoy the ride, no matter where it takes them. You won’t enjoy the clean-up either. To prevent car sickness, don’t feed your dog soon before you hit the road. (For more tips on preventing car sickness, read Causes And Cures For Car Sickness In Dogs.

3. Plan for your dog’s needs

If you’re planning on traveling a long distance, be sure you’ve planned for your dog’s needs. Schedule potty breaks, map out pet-friendly stops so your dog can stretch his legs, and check for ordinances that restrict or ban certain breeds. Work your dog up to longer distance drives so he’s used to spending more time in the car. If your dog gets nervous or antsy in the car, take him for a long walk before you take off – he’ll be tired out and more likely to sleep along the way.

4. Use the right equipment

Did you know that in an accident at 30 mph, an 80-pound dog becomes a 2400-pound projectile? That spells trouble for both you and your dog. Use safety equipment such as a crate or harness to keep your dog from flying around the cabin or being ejected in an accident.

You can also minimize your dog’s risk by using a hammock or barrier to keep your dog safely in the back seat. This reduces his risk of being thrown out of the car and eliminates the distraction of a dog trying to get attention while you’re driving.

And, don’t forget to protect your seats, too. A car seat cover or back seat hammock protects your upholstery from hair, nails, and muddy paws. It’s easier to clean a removable, washable cover than it is your nice interior.

Nala from

That’s it! Having a car-adjusted dog is pretty simple once you put these four tips into practice. As a dog owner myself, I love that I can take my dog with me to various places and know that she’s just as excited to explore as I am.

Good luck and happy trails!

Sonia Charry is a lifelong dog owner and author of the Big Dog Blog at specializes in large dog supplies, including car safety products like dog barriers for SUVs.

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  • The Newfs travel well in the car, but I do have to consider getting a harness for them. Right now they sit in the back of my SUV. I am not quite sure how they would take to a harness as they like to get up and changes positions quite often.

  • Seat belts are so important! We learned about the dogs becoming a projectile in an accident which can be very dangerous. We also heard from a friend that they had an incident where they had to stop very suddenly and their 70 lb dog flew out the window! They felt so lucky he wasn’t hurt, or hit by the car behind them…now they are huge on dog seat belts.

  • As we prepared for a move from Dallas to SLC several years ago I was waking up during the preparation period in a cold sweat wondering how we’d make the trip with a 100 lb Great Pyr who got car sick driving around the block. Because of his tummy troubles our 9 year old baby had almost never ridden in a car. We checked with the vet and he said one word…Benadryl. What a miracle! We gave him one Benadryl…said a few prayers…and set off on our 1200 mile adventure. He instantly fell asleep and woke up a different dog! Was never car sick again…loved car rides more than anything and for the last year of his life got to go EVERYWHERE with us!

  • PS; we also stop at least once a day for exercise, using the free dog park app on my iPhone.

  • I tried many kinds of safety harnesses for my mini poodle. He sliced through every one in seconds with his razor ( I mean teeth!). Finally, in desperation, I lashed his crate into the backseat with the seatbelts. Worked like a charm. We have driven across the county like this several times !

  • Kim Clune says:

    The empty stomach tip is one I learned the hard way… with a car sick newf who just had breakfast before hitting the road. It’s not an issue now, but we had to work up to that. Great tips, Sonia Charry!

  • I have always taken Chester with me in the car when I travel. Luckily, he has always enjoyed it. With that new doggie crash test video that came out, I am suspect that a harness will stop your dog from being a projectile. That being said, we use one so that they stay in the seat and don’t distract me from driving.

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