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Dog Car Travel

Updated on July 4, 2014

Take A Road Trip With Your Dog Friend

Dogs love to be with their pals and most pooches love to go on a "car ride". Just the sheer mention of those two words together evokes an enthusiastic, tail-wagging frenzy in the majority of hounds. So why not plan a fun & memorable dog road trip as a family?

This lens outlines do's and don'ts when travelling by car with our four-legged friends for their safety and comfort; and your safety, comfort, peace of mind and sanity.

We'll offer tips, dog car travel trip suggestions, resources, and recommended dog travel supplies to make your trip a pleasurable, stress-free experience. Buckle up and Enjoy the ride!


Dog Car Travel 101

Prepare Your Pup For The Road Trip

If your pet is unaccustomed to car trips, take her on a series of several short rides first before attempting a long one. Make sure that the first few car trips are to pleasant places (other than the vet), so that the dog will associate drives with positive experiences. Our dog enjoys going to the the bank drive-thru where the tellers dispense dog cookies along with our transaction.

From experience we've found that a happy, content, tired dog makes a pleasant travelling companion. Take your pooch on a long walk before setting out for the open road to burn some energy off. She will be less likely to get into mischief or bark for no reason. This holds true for dog car travel as well as around the house. Tired dog = Happy dog.

Dog Travel Seating Safety

Always Keep Your Pet Contained To The Back Seats

For safety, do not allow dogs to ride in the front seat, no matter how much the pet enjoys it. Pets riding in the front seat can be thrown into the windshield if you have to make a sudden stop. Also, the pup can climb on the drivers lap, interfere with driving or fall down by the gas and brake pedals, causing an accident.

Another reason to keep pets in the back seat secured, or in a crate, is that airbags can pose hazards to dogs. Air bags can launch out of the dashboard at a great enough force to severely injure a pet or small human.

Crates or sturdy pet carriers are an ideal way to restrain dogs in cars. Stressed pets need a nice quiet place to rest and be alone at times. Secure the crate so it does not fly forward or flip in case of a sudden stop or accident. Other good alternatives are dog seat belts, safety harnesses and dog barriers for your vehicle to keep your dog friend safe during the trip.

Dog Travel Gear - Safety Belts and Harnesses For Your Pup

Dog Car Travel Tip

Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address and phone number.

Also play it safe with a temporary travel tag with your cell phone number and any other relevant contact information during the trip in case of an emergency.

Dog Car Travel Dangers

Keep You & Your Pooch Safe - Don't Engage In These Behaviors

These should go without saying, but almost every day I see someone driving down the road with their pet in the front seat, head out the window, or my number one pet peeve - driving with a dog in their lap. What are people thinking!?! This is dangerous for everyone in the vehicle and can lead to accidents.

A recent study by AAA Motor Club found that two-thirds of dog owners admitted engaging in some sort of distracting behavior while driving with their dog. More than half of those polled said they've petted their dogs while driving, and one in five allowed their dogs to sit on their laps. Yikes!

Learn to be your dog's Pack Leader. Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan can show you how.

A restrained 10 lb. dog that's involved in a crash at 50 mph will exert 500 lbs. of pressure. That could easily kill someone inside the vehicle. Some towns issue tickets for driving with a dog in your lap - you can receive a $75 fine for "obstruction of driver's mechanism". This behavior is as stupid and dangerous as texting while driving.

Some dogs enjoy hanging their heads out the window, ears flapping, nose twitching, a million smells a minute flying by - what could possibly be the harm of that? Eye injuries for one - that's what veterinarians hate to see. Think of all the things that go "splat!" on your windshield, and you'll know why eye injuries happen to joy-riding dogs. So here's a compromise we can all live with: roll down the window just enough for the dog's nose. The intriguing smells will still be there. All that's missing is the risk to your dog's precious vision.

Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities in the United States for 2012

The rankings are based on the quality of dog-friendly accommodations, transportation, beaches, parks, attractions, stores, dining and other things to do with your dog.

1. San Diego - The best dog beaches anywhere. Boutique hotels. Many trails and parks to hike and great weather year-round for outdoor dining.

2. Portland (OR)- Enjoy the famous rose gardens and the parks. Have food and drink at the Lucky Lab. This town is dog-friendly inside and out.

3. Austin - Dine in outdoor cafes. Visit the Zilker Botanical Gardens and take a walking or carriage tour. Enjoy many dog-friendly parks.

4. Northern Virginia - Visit outdoor monuments in Virginia and Washington, take a cruise just for dogs and dine or go to yappy hour in dog-friendly Old Town Alexandria.

5. San Francisco - Many off-leash beaches and areas. Shop and dine in many parts of town. Ride the cable car, walk the Golden Gate Bridge.

6. Boston - Tour Boston by boat or take the subway. Follow the Freedom Trail and visit nearby historic sites. Stay at many pet-friendly hotels.

7. Orlando - Glamorous pet-friendly resorts. Boat tour, shop Winter Park or Celebration. Attend concerts in Lake Eola Park.

8. Salt Lake City - View downtown from Ensign Peak. Ride the Temple Square Carriages and walk the downtown area. Visit an amusement park and many historical parks.

9. Charleston (SC) - Visit the beach or a number of plantations. Take a ghost tour or an eco tour.

10. New York - Great luxury hotels, famous shopping and outdoor dining. Watch a morning show, enjoy Central Park on leash.

Honorable Mentions: Anchorage, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, San Antonio (list courtesy of

Pet Friendly Lodging

Do Your Homework and Make A Reservation

From a basic motel, to a cozy bed & breakfast on the lake, to a high-class resort, you can find the perfect venue for you and your favorite dog friend. There are many options nowadays for people travelling with pets. Research ahead of time and make a reservation.

We strongly recommend that you call ahead to double-check that they still are pet friendly. Sometimes hotel management and pet policies change. It's important that you and your dog feel comfortable and confident and, most importantly, be well-received upon your arrival.

Dog Travel Supplies

How To Make Your Dog Comfortable In A Strange Place

From experience, we've found that our dogs settle down and relax on a trip more quickly when surrounded by a familiar bed and/or blanket, a few of their favorite toys and their usual food in the dinner bowl. Dogs love routine! So try and keep to their usual routine as much as possible when away from home. They will be more comfortable and so will you!

Don't forget to pack your dog's heartworm preventive and flea & tick control. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, which are especially bad this year.

Daisy's Packing List:

1.) Food & Water Bowls

2.) Dry Food For Each Day

3.) Dog Cookies

4.) Rawhide Bone

5.) Toys! Ball, Frisbee, Hoppity the Stuffed Rabbit

6.) Favorite Dog Bed

7.) Bottled Water & Travel Dispenser

8.) Towels To Wipe Paws

8.) Collar w/ id, Leash, and Seat Harness

9.) Grooming Brush & Pet Wipes

Make Sure To Pack Your Favorite Toy...

Dog Travel Crates & Bags

Dog Crates Don't Need To Be Dull - Check Out These Chic Designs

Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it's smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.

Our sponsor helps pets and their people live happily together without sacrificing their style. At this women-owned company, their mission is to help you and your pet grow closer, share space and enjoy life together, and celebrate your relationship.

I was impressed by all of their designs and how well-made the crates are. Be sure and check out the section "Meet Our Pet Models" - absolutely adorable!

Click the banner ad below to see the entire collection of dog crates that save space & add beauty to your home:

Dog Car Travel Tip

Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle when it's warm outside.

On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time.

Dog Car Travel Supplies

Make A Checklist So You Don't Forget Anything!

What's in your pet's traveling kit? In addition to rabies vaccination paperwork, remember food, bowls, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, dog cookies, chew toys, medication, and a pet first-aid kit.

Also we recommend to pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity away from home. Sometimes it takes me longer to pack for our dog than it does for me! ; )

For a great selection of Pet T-Shirts, Pet-Hoodies, and more! Including MLB and NFL gear for the stylin' dog!


Top 10 Dog Friendly Beaches

Rated the Best Dog Beaches in the U.S. for 2013

1) Fort DeSoto Beach, Florida

Enter through the front gate by the parking lot, then walk through the L-shaped park to the back gate. Go out the back gate, down a short sandy path and onto the perfect beach for both dogs and their human friends.

2) Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

In 2011, this park was named by ABC's Good Morning America as the "Most Beautiful Place in America". Be sure check out the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse.

3) Del Mar Beach San Diego, California

Del Mar is one of the most popular beach communities in San Diego County. Attractions include great beaches, fairgrounds, horseracing, and a quaint, upscale village provide plenty of activities for everyone.

4) Cape San Blas, Florida

Located just 35 miles south of Panama City, Cape San Blas beaches are quite peaceful and not overdeveloped. Named 2002 Best Beach In America by Dr. Beach.

5) Fort Funston State Park, California

Fort Funston is a very popular San Francisco dogwalking location. Most visitors walk the paved Sunset Trail, a north to south route on the bluff, and reach Ocean Beach via Fort Funston's northern section.

Check Out These Cool Waterproof and Odor Proof Personalized Dog Collars...

6) Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is recognized by its well-known landmark, Haystack Rock, located to the southwest of downtown Cannon Beach, near Tolovana Park. This igneous rock has an elevation of 235 feet, and is often accessible at low tide, especially in the summertime. There is a cool small cave system that penetrates the rock and can be seen from the coastline.

7) Montrose Dog Beach - Chicago, Illinois

This popular Windy City dog beach is located on the Northwest corner of Montrose Beach (the section closest to the city). Just follow Wilson Avenue until it curves to the left at the lake. Look for the big corrugated steel walls of the old Boat Launch, and you've arrived.

8) Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon

This windsurfers' paradise suits people and pups just fine. Located just outside of Oregon State Park boundaries, south of Gold Beach.

9) First Landing State Park - Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

One of the finest state parks you'll find anywhere features an ocean-type beach at the mouth of the Chesapeake. You can easily hike with your dog for over an hour on the beach with terrific views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and ocean going vessels.

10) Dog Beach - Key West, Florida

Your dog will have some fun in the sun here, but be sure to keep a close eye on your pup, as this is a rocky beach. After getting a little exercise, you can head over to Louie's Backyard located next door to Dog Beach. It's a pet-friendly place to grab a refreshing beverage.

Winter Dog Safety Tips

Keep Your Pet Warm, Safe, & Comfortable

The chilling temps of winter bring many concerns for responsible dog owners:

Don't leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes days colder than the actual temperature. Be attentive to your dog's body temperature, and limit his or her time outdoors. If you're cold - chances are your best friend is too.

Keep your dog warm, dry, and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.

Groom your dog regularly and continue to brush his coat during the winter months. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat when taking a walk or car trip. Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. If you do the trimming, take care not to cut the pads or other delicate area of the foot.

Towel dry or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from the rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean their paws too - especially with the salt and chemicals used this time of year on streets and sidewalks. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent cracking.

Don't leave your dog alone in a car. If the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide fumes can endanger your dog's life. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold, too quickly.

Follow these tips and your dog friend will be most comfortable and appreciative!!

Dog Travel Bathroom Breaks

Be Considerate and Pick Up After Your Pet

When stopping the car, have things organized before opening the door, including stops at gas stations and rest areas. Make sure the dog is still secured. And when taking the dog out of the car, have the leash attached to the dog and in your hand so that the dog cannot escape.

During stops, provide fresh drinking water for your dog. Pack ice chips or cubes. This makes a tasty treat for your dog, plus it melts down into water along the way. For long trips, bring sufficient bottled water for you and your dog (to prevent tummy upsets from water they are unaccustomed to).

Please remember...ALWAYS pick up your pet's droppings! Have bags on hand to take care of it quickly and efficiently. Your consideration will help keep dogs welcome guests.

Cell Phones, Dogs, and Driving Don't Mix

Dangers of Texting / Talking on Phone While on the Road

Whether it's talking on a cellphone, eating or drinking, texting, adjusting the radio, or programming your navigation system, increasingly, it seems that driving is not always the top priority in the car.

Cell phones can be life-saving communication tools to have ready in a vehicle in case of emergency. However, actually using a cell phone while driving may be life threatening. The National Safety Council (NSC) released an estimate described as "conservative" that more than 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths are caused per year by distracted drivers on cell phones.

I live in Illinois where new laws ban motorists from sending text messages while driving, and make it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving through a highway construction zone or school zone. In addition, it will become illegal to compose, send or read text messages, instant messages and e-mail on a cell phone or surf the internet while driving. I continue to see people with phones glued to their ears and thumbing away texting while behind the wheel.

Clearly the safest course of action is to not use a cell phone while driving. If you need to take a call or check messages while traveling - pull over and wait until the car is safely stopped. This should be common ensure you, your family, and pets arrive safely at your destination.

Dog Car Travel Tip

Do not feed your dog for at least three hours before leaving on a trip.

Take your dog for a walk just before you start the drive and he will be more comfortable as the trip gets underway.

Great Solution For Pet Travel Anxiety

Try A Thundershirt To Calm Your Dog!

The majority of dogs love riding in the car, but there are some pooches who find it to be a stressful event. Luckily, there is a solution: the Thundershirt. The Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited. You very well may see significant improvement for noise, crate, travel, barking and other behaviors - with absolutely no training.

Depending on the severity of your dog's travel anxiety, a Thundershirt alone may be enough to solve your issues. The use of Thundershirt alone has eliminated or significantly reduced symptoms such as severe shaking, panting, excitability, barking and even vomiting. But there are also easy steps you can take to further help your dog to be a happy traveler.

As seen on "Good Morning America", Thundershirt has an 85% success rate. Designed to fit almost any size dog-from Chihuahuas to Mastiffs-Thundershirts are recommended by thousands of veterinarians and trainers around the world, and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back.

Thundershirts Can Help With Dog Car Anxiety & Fear of Thunderstorms...

That Was A Blast! Where Are We Going Next??

That Was A Blast! Where Are We Going Next??
That Was A Blast! Where Are We Going Next??

Time For a Nap...Zzzzzz

What are your favorite dog car travel tips?

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    • Scotties-Rock profile image


      6 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      Great tips on dog car travel. I wish my older dog enjoyed it. He does not like the car.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My brother's dog Fritz (the klien spitz on squidoo) LOVES car rides, although we call it going 'bye-bye'. When we start to pack our bags he gets depressed until we pack his own bag - a coat, leash, bowl, and the like. Anywhere is fine, just as long as it is with us.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There are some great tips here and a huge thank you for mentioning to NOT leave a dog in a car alone in dangerous temperatures (hot or cold) and conditions . That is a huge pet peeve of mine. What are people thinking? Anyway, great lens and I loved your opening picture and also the one of the puppy with the cellphone the most.

    • JimHofman profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for visiting! We love dogs and want them to be safe and happy while traveling in the car ... we hope fellow dog owners take these tips to heart!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great travel tips for the dog.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Didn't know there were books about dog car travel! I thought there were only accessoires like harnesses and seat covers. Thanks for the info! I've linked my lense to yours :) - It's

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You are right , everyday I see pets hanging out the window on the highway. More owners need to read this lens.

      Visit our lens:


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