How to travel with a pet in the car

Traveling with your pet in the car takes preparation. Some get anxious when it comes to car travel. The better prepared you are for the road trip, the easier it will be to travel with your pet. If your pet is extremely anxious and isn’t willing to get into the vehicle try the following method:

  1. Take your dog out for exercise or a long walk, followed by leading them near the car.
  2. Place some treats in the trunk and encourage them to take the treats.
  3. Try and get them to stand on their hind legs and eat the treats from your vehicle’s trunk.
  4. Gradually challenge your dog to enter the car for longer periods of time using treats.
  5. Once your pet feels more comfortable approaching the vehicle, take them for a short drive around the block, rewarding them with treats when they’re calmer.

Be sure to schedule longer rest stops so your dog can have a short walk. Stop regularly to provide your pet with water. Depending on the weather, you may need to stop every hour or less so your pet can stay hydrated.

Finally, make sure you pack all the essentials your pet may need. Switching food during a road trip by purchasing whatever food is available at the location could affect your pet’s digestive system. It’s best to pack enough food for them to last the whole trip — and then some extra. Besides the proper  pet food, consider the following items your  pet may need on your road trip:

  • Portable food and water bowls
  • Enough drinking water for the road trip
  • Toys or chew bones
  • A dog bed
  • Pet pee pads
  • Any medication your dog may be taking or need
  • A  pet first aid kit
  • Contact information for your vet back home
  • A copy of your  pet’s medical history including vaccinations and boosters
  • Pet medication

Once you’ve packed a special bag for your pet, make sure to arrange a safe and comfortable place in the car where your pet can rest comfortably or look out the window. Some safety considerations you should keep into account are:

  • Make sure your pet travels in the rear seats — the front row is extremely dangerous. If an airbag is released, the force of the airbag’s deployment is violent.
  • Restrain your pet in the rear to keep you from getting distracted. And protect your pet from being injured or killed in an accident. You can use a dog seat belt or harness in the back seat. Better yet, set up a portable crate or a dog bed in the back for your dogs. If your dog tends to jump from the cargo area to sit on your lap, you may need to install a car barrier to keep your dog in place
  • Be sure to properly secure all items in the vehicle. In case of an accident, items could fall or shift, potentially hurting your pet.
  • Although dogs love hanging their heads out the window, the practice isn’t safe. Hang a dog booster from a rear seat so smaller dogs can enjoy the view safely instead. Refrain from letting your dogs stick their heads out the window — road debris could injure your pet.