Taking a Puppy On a Long Car Trip

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A long car ride can be tedious and stressful for a puppy, especially one who's new to riding in an auto. Preparation is key. A little planning and acclimation will keep your puppy comfy and safe on your car ride.


If your puppy's not used to riding in the car, a long journey's liable to be scary and uncomfortable for him. Start preparing a couple of weeks before your departure, if possible. Start by taking him into the car, without going anywhere or even turning the ignition, so he can get used to the environment. Gradually work up to turning on the ignition, to get him accustomed to the noise and vibrations, and then to taking him for short rides.



Ensure you pack everything your puppy's going to need to stay comfy on his long trip. Food, water, bowls, a collar and a leash are 100 percent necessary for the journey. Pack your puppy's favorite blanket to keep him calm and comfortable; consider some toys, treats to give for good behavior, a doggy first aid kit and some grooming supplies.

Secure Your Puppy

It's important that your puppy is secured for a car journey. If he's free to roam the car, you might become distracted, increasing risk of accident; meanwhile, if you stomp on the brakes or swerve suddenly, you risk injury up to breaking the dog's neck. A crate-trained puppy will feel most comfortable and secure if crated for the duration of the ride. Ensure he's got a blanket in there and has appropriate access to water. If your puppy isn't crate-trained, he'll probably be more comfy secured with a specialized doggy car harness.


Car Harnesses

A car harness for your puppy is far safer than having him loose in the car. The harness fits around his chest area, so it won't pull on his neck if your car jolts or you have to stop abruptly. A leashlike clip is attached to a ring on the harness, which plugs directly into the seat belt socket. It's just like your puppy has his own seat belt.

Take Breaks

Always take sufficient breaks. Puppies need to relieve themselves regularly, so you should take bathroom breaks of five to 15 minutes' duration every one to two hours. As well as letting your pup do his business, you should also take him for a short walk and maybe even have a quick game of fetch or tug of war to work off some of his pent-up energy. If you tire him out, he's more likely to have a sleep in the car, making the journey seem quicker to him.


By Lauren Corona

American Dog Trainers Network: Canines in the Car
Cesar's Way: Cesar's Best Dog Travel Tips
The Humane Society of the United States: Packing for Pets
Dog Car Harness: Dog Car Harness Instructions

About the Author
Lauren Corona has worked as a writer since 2010. She has penned articles for a range of websites and print publications, specializing in animal care, nature, music and vegan food. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature, and a postgraduate diploma in print journalism.