The golden rules for taking your dog on car journeys

28th Aug, 2020

If you’re like most dog owners, you probably like to keep your walks local – but every so often, you might decide that you want to take him a bit farther afield. Or alternatively, you might need to take him somewhere that he needs to go far more urgently, such as the vet.

Whatever the case, dogs can often make more demanding passengers than humans (and definitely worse drivers). If they get too boisterous on car journeys, they might even end up causing an accident which can all too easily scrap your car. So, here are some of the golden rules to make those canine car crossings as stress-free as possible.

1. Make sure he’s restrained

Without question, the number one rule of taking your dog in the car. If you’ve got a smaller dog it might be tempting to simply put him on someone’s lap for the duration, but trust us – the safest option is to use a decent quality harness, crate or guard that’s specially designed for the purpose. If you’re not sure of exactly which one to use, it might be best to consult your local vet or pet shop, who’ll generally be able to advise you on which one is best for your dog.

And for a slightly less obvious piece of advice – if your dog is sitting in the front passenger seat, make sure to turn off the airbag. It might be alright for us primates and our relatively flat faces, but for your dog it might do more harm than good.


2. Make sure you’re supplied

It’s generally a good idea to make sure you’ve got food and water for your dog, especially if you’re going out on long journeys. Cars can get very hot while out on the road, and your dog can quickly get dehydrated, so don’t forget to take some water and a bowl so he can take a sip. It’s also a decent plan to bring some of his usual food in case you break down or get stuck in traffic. Be careful of feeding dogs too much though, or feeding him right before a journey – it can upset their stomachs, which can end in some pretty unpleasant results for everyone else in the car.

If your dog has a favourite toy, it’s never a bad idea to have that with you as well. You’ll want to focus on keeping your dog calm and relaxed throughout the entire journey, and sometimes that becomes a heck of a lot easier when you’ve got their favourite toy to distract them with.

3. Keep your dog cool

One thing that even experienced dog owners can forget is that dogs don’t sweat. They’re not physically able to – that’s why they pant when they’re overexerted. However, that means you’ve got to take extra care to ensure that they’re able to stay cool, or they can get seriously ill. (That’s a big part of why you should never leave your dog alone in the car!)

We’ve already mentioned the importance of bringing water above, but you should also take care to bring window shades. Sure, they might be designed for young children, but they do a wonder for keeping your dog cool. It also helps to open the windows a crack. But be very careful not to open them too far. A dog’s head hanging out the window might look cute in film trailers, but it can result in some horrible injuries in real life. And if the window is open too far, your dog may even try and jump out.

4. Make regular stops on long car journeys

After an hour or more in the car with your dog, it’s likely that you’ll both need a break. Getting out of the car every so often gives you both a chance to stretch your legs, and plus it means that he can do his business in a patch of grass rather than on your nice clean car seats.

Another thing to watch out for on long car journeys is motion sickness, which younger dogs are especially prone to. Normally they’ll grow out of it, but if you’re still worried that your dog might be dealing with it, don’t forget that it helps to seat them facing forward.


5. Take him to places he likes

That might seem a bit woolly at first – after all, do dogs ever notice where they’re going on car journeys? But you might be surprised at the extent to which they do! If you’re only ever taking your dog in the car because he’s on his way to the vet’s, he’ll start making that association very quickly when you start herding him towards the vehicle. And if he only associates your car with unpleasant places, that can make it an altogether more unpleasant experience for everyone.

So, make sure to take him to farther reaches occasionally for longer walks, even if it’s just a quick potter around town. Sure, they prefer to be able to frolic in meadows (who doesn’t?) but even a quick change of scenery is always welcome for most canines. They lead a very wholesome existence, don’t they?

We may not be the ultimate experts on dogs, but we’re particularly good at getting you the best price when you scrap your car. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and you’ll have your instant online quote in a few seconds flat. Curious to find out how much your car is worth?

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