There are a few things to keep in mind when transporting a small dog in a car. First and foremost, always make sure the dog is properly restrained in a carrier or in the car itself. This will help to ensure the dog's safety and prevent it from getting out of the car or becoming a distraction.
Another important consideration is the temperature. Dogs are sensitive to changes in temperature, so it's important to keep them cool while in the car. This means keeping them in a carrier or in the car itself, rather than leaving them outside in the sun or cold.
Finally, be sure to have plenty of food and water available for the dog while in the car. This will help to keep it hydrated and fed, and will also help to avoid any accidents.
When traveling by car with your four-legged friend, it is critical to follow best practices for how to transport a dog in a car to reduce both safety risks and stress. When you have a canine companion to consider, moving can be a difficult situation because you must balance their needs with all of the other tasks on your to-do list. However, your dog should always come first during your move, especially once you're on the road.
Follow the tips below on how to transport a dog in a car to keep everyone (including yourself) more relaxed in transit, whether you're moving across town or across the country.
Plan ahead of time where your dog will sit.
Because your dog will not enter the car until everything is packed, it is critical to plan ahead and leave them enough room. This holds true whether they are in a crate or a car restraint. If they're going to be uncrated, give them enough space to sit and lie down comfortably, and don't leave any objects around them that could endanger their safety, such as anything sharp or that they could choke on. If you're traveling a long distance, make their seat extra comfortable by placing their favorite blanket and toy where they'll be sitting.
It is important to note that your dog should not ride in the front seat because a deployed air bag could cause serious—and even fatal—harm. Choose the car's backseat or the boot.
Choose Your Restraint Option
No pet parent ever intends to be in an accident with their dog in the car, but it is possible. You must devise a restraint method to protect both your beloved pet and yourself. There are a few to think about.:
- Harness seat belts
- Zipline harnesses
- Carry boxes with harness attachments
All of the options listed above either function as harnesses in their own right or attach to your dog's existing harness to keep them safe in the event of an impact. Other options include:
- Back seat hammocks
- Back seat barriers
- Dog guards (if your dog will be traveling in the trunk of your car)
While the alternatives listed above are all preferable to no restraint at all, a harness will keep your pup as secure as possible. Keep in mind that car restraints are required in New Jersey under the state's animal cruelty laws. In Hawaii, driving with your dog in your lap or allowing them to stick their head out the window while the car is moving can result in a fine.
Don't eat right before you leave.
Maintaining a routine for your dog during a move is recommended to help reduce stress, but part of how to transport a dog in a car is adjusting that routine as needed for their own well-being. This is especially true when it comes to food.
Eating right before a long car trip can cause an upset tummy for your pup and possibly a mess for you. Feed your dog his or her pre-travel meal at least three hours before you leave, even if it means eating earlier than usual.
Plan For Stress
It's difficult, if not impossible, to completely eliminate your dog's stress during transportation. The next best thing you can do is prepare for it. If your dog is prone to stress (particularly car-related stress), consult with your veterinarian at least a month before your move date and devise a plan. They may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication to keep your dog as calm and relaxed as possible during transportation.
Other suggestions for reducing stress on your dog in the car and throughout the moving process include::
- Maintaining as much calm as you can, even if you're not feeling it. Dogs are extremely sensitive to their owners' body language and can easily detect stress.
- Providing familiar objects to them during transportation, such as setting up their area with their favorite blanket and toy.
- Trying non-prescription anxiety relief for dogs, such as CBD treats. However, to be safe, test how your dog reacts to these before moving day so you know what to expect.
Make Time For Breaks
How to transport a dog in a car includes balancing your own preferences with your dog's needs. While you may want to drive straight to your next destination, you'll need to plan for periodic stops so your dog can relieve himself and burn off some energy.
Aim for a rest stop every two to three hours and let your dog out for at least 15 to 20 minutes. It may delay your arrival time slightly, but your furry friend will be very grateful. It will also allow you to check in and ensure that your dog is in good health.
Limit Treats During Your Journey
We all know that treats are the way to a dog's heart. However, unless you're on one of your designated breaks, stick to verbal praise while in transit. When dogs eat treats in a moving car, they can choke on them, including small bites and chew bones, and eating too many treats can lead to the aforementioned upset stomach. Furthermore, it is dangerous to divert your attention by digging around in a treat bag and then reaching back to hand it to your dog. So resist the urge to give treats while driving, and rest assured that you will more than make up for it once you arrive at your new home.
Keep the Interior Comfortable
Keep an eye on the temperature in the car to ensure that your dog is as comfortable as possible. That means running the air conditioner in the summer and keeping the house warm (but not too warm) in the winter. It's fine to open the windows for fresh air, but never all the way—or even far enough down for your dog to fit her entire head out there. You should never leave a dog alone in a car, but if you need to stop at a gas station or convenience store on your way, leave the windows up and the car running, and hurry so you're gone for as little time as possible.
Pack an Essentials Bag
You're probably aware that you should bring an essentials bag for yourself, but don't forget to bring one for your dog as well. This bag should include everything your dog might need during the trip as well as the first day and night in your new home. By storing these items in a single, easily accessible bag, you simplify your life and help keep things from becoming misplaced.
Here’s what to include:
- Harness and leash (if not already on and/or by your dog)
- Travel food and water dish
- Enough food for the trip and the first 24 hours in your new home, plus a little extra in case something goes wrong.
- A bottle of water in case your dog becomes thirsty and you aren't near a store or a drinking fountain.
- Any medications your pet is taking
- Any medical records provided by your veterinarian
- Extra waste bags
- Important tags that aren't already on your dog's harness
- A couple toys
- Package of disinfecting wipes
Keep this bag in a convenient location, such as the passenger seat or front and center in your trunk.
The key to transporting a dog in a car is to plan ahead of time. When it comes to making a long move with your canine companion, there is no such thing as winging it, because you must accommodate their needs as much as possible during the trip. If the trip will take more than two days, plan ahead of time to stay at a dog-friendly hotel along the way (or multiple hotels if your trip will take more than two days). The more details you can anticipate and cover ahead of time, the easier it will be to travel.
Looking for more information on moving with dogs? Read our articles on relocating your dog and transferring your pet to a new veterinarian.
- Moving in a Car with a Puppy
- How to Dog-Proof Your New Home Once You've Moved In
- Moving Cross Country With Pets: Vital Tips to Remember
- How to Dog-Proof Your Garden
- Your Moving Road Trip Checklist
- Train Shipping Instructions
- Moving with Pets: A Pet Parent's Guide
- The Lowdown on Renting a Car Dolly to Move Your Vehicle
- Car Trailer vs. Tow Dolly: Which Should You Choose?
- What Is the Cost of Shipping a Car Across the Country?
Author: Laura Mueller
Laura Mueller is a professional writer who has spent nearly five years writing about relocation. She is especially interested in topics such as organization, home design, and real estate, and she certainly has a few tricks up her sleeve after moving eight times in eight years during her twenties. Laura believes that moving should be as stress-free as possible, and she is constantly working on new tips and shortcuts to share with Moving.com readers.com.View all of Laura Mueller's posts
How do you travel in a car with a small dog?
Traveling By Car .
Allow your dog to sit in the car with you without leaving the driveway, and then go for short rides..
Allow your dog to travel on an empty stomach to avoid car sickness. .. .
Keep the car well ventilated. .. .
To keep your dog safe, consider purchasing a dog seat belt or a dog car seat..
How does one transport a small dog in a car?
Types of dog safety restraints: Car seats, carriers, and safety harnesses. In the same way that humans should wear seat belts in the event of a collision, Dogs should be securely restrained in a crash-tested restraint. , whether it's a pet carrier or a travel safety harness.
What is the best way to transport a small puppy in a car?
If it is not possible to keep your puppy in a crate, he should be kept outside. In a special dog seatbelt or harness, securely placed in the back of the car . If you're traveling a long distance, take a break; pull over and give your puppy a drink of water and some exercise.
How do you transport a puppy without a crate in a car?
How to Transport a Dog Without a Crate in a Car .
Use a Travel Harness. When it comes to restraining your pet during a car ride, travel harnesses are one of the most popular options. .. .
Use a Back Gate. .. .
Use a Carrier. .. .
Use a Booster Seat.