Dog Road Trips: How To Keep Your Pet Safe And Happy

  • 26/03/2019

Are you thinking of taking a road trip with your dog? Spending time on the road with your pet can be a lot of fun, but there are steps you need to take to ensure your dog’s safety on the road.

Here are five ways to keep your dog safe, happy and secure in a car.

1. Your Dog Should be Restrained at All Times

A dog with his head out a car window might look cute, but an unrestrained pet puts both you and your dog at risk.

The obvious danger is that the dog is hit by a passing wing mirror, tree or other objects. There have been many examples of dogs being killed or seriously injured in this type of collision. Some dogs may also instinctively jump out of the car if they see something they want to chase.

Even if your dog is unlikely to be hit by an object, fast-moving air can cause ear trauma and damage to the eyes.

A loose dog is also distracting for the driver. Even if your dog is calm most of the time, it may only take a passing squirrel or other dogs for him to start jumping around the car.

2. Only Use Crash-Tested Harnesses

Many harnesses have seat belt loops. Unfortunately, these are often made from weak fabric and provide little protection during an accident.

Instead, you should invest in a crash-tested harness. These have stronger buckles, reinforced seams, and are made with stronger materials.

While a car harness doesn’t guarantee your dog’s safety in an accident, it gives him a better chance of survival. The best crash-tested harnesses also stop your dog from becoming a dangerous projectile during a crash.

3. Pack for All Circumstances

Aside from the obvious items - harness, leash, food, water, bowls and a bed - you should also bring your pet’s medical records. If there’s an emergency on your trip, knowing your dog’s medical history could be essential.

It’s also a good idea to bring a spare collar and leash. Keep these in your trunk or glove box, so you can still control your dog if you lose his regular leash.

4. Prepare Your Dog for Spending Time in a Car

There’s a big difference between short journeys to the park and a long road trip. If your dog isn’t used to spending time in a car, a few practice runs could prevent anxiety and sickness during your actual trip.

The key is to make the car a fun place. Practice securing your dog with his harness, then give praise and treats before you even start the engine. Then travel a short distance, before stopping and repeating the process. Over time, you can gradually build up the distance between stops, so your dog learns to enjoy being in a car rather than just tolerating it.

Don’t overdo the treats though - especially if your dog is prone to car sickness. For dogs that often get sick, you may want to talk to your vet about supplements to relieve nausea.

You should also spend time getting your dog accustomed to his new crash-tested harness. While these harnesses are great for protection, the stronger material gives them a different feel that some dogs may find strange.

5. Never Leave Your Dog in the Car

It’s frightening how quickly a car can become dangerously hot - even with the window open. For this reason, you should never leave your dog unattended in a car during hot (or even mild) weather.

Cold weather can also be dangerous for dogs. A car interior cools rapidly once the heating is switched off, and a restrained dog has no way to warm up by moving around.

The bottom line is that a car is never a safe place to leave a dog alone, regardless of the weather.


Road trips with your pet can be a lot of fun, but preparation is required to keep your dog safe and happy. The five tips in this article can help you have a successful trip that’s fun for both you and your pet.

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