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How To Prepare Your Dog For A Long Car Ride

If you’re googling “how to prepare your dog for a long car ride”, then you’re probably excited about your trip yet worried about bringing your dog along with you. Travelling with your dogs in the car long distance can be fun, but also extremely daunting, especially if they’re not used to being in the car. There’s so many things to think about; their safety, comfort, and general well-being. Long car rides with your furry co-pilot require some extra planning and preparation, and we’re here to help you with just that.

Take a Pet-Friendly Route

As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The first step in travelling with dogs in the car for a long distance: plan to take the most dog-friendly route possible. Travelling with a four-legged companion means having to plan things around their needs, and this includes being able to pull over at a safe area every now and then, such as rest stops, for potty breaks and for them to be able to stretch their legs safely.

Nobody likes being cooped up in the car, so if you need a break, so does your dog. Taking frequent breaks also ensures that your dog has a chance to do their business, so that they don’t create puddles of accidents in the car. Plus, taking a short walk around the rest stop’s parking lots means that they won’t be so restless when you continue your journey.

Practice Ahead of Time

Practising with your pet to get used to being in the car for long periods of time is the key to a stress-free journey. Take note of how your pet behaves in the car, and take proactive measures to keep him calm. If your pooch is particularly anxious during car rides, consider trying positive behavioural training techniques. Not only that, if your pet is only used to being in the car to go to the vet or groomer, consider taking them to places where they’ll have positive experiences, such as the dog park, and reward them with treats after every journey.

Check In with Your Vet

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Before a long trip, you should always make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel. If they have pre-existing health issues, ask your vet if travel can affect their health, and about the precautionary steps that you need to take to prevent any issues from being exacerbated. You can also ask your vet for anti-nausea medication or stress-reducing aids to keep your dog calm during the long car ride.

Bring Along the Essentials

To ensure a smooth journey, don’t forget to make a list of all your pet’s essentials that you need to bring with you. Not only does this include food and water, the list should also include treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls and other supplies like old towels, disposable urine pads, and a doggy first aid kit.

Keep in mind that it can get very messy when you’re travelling with a dog, so you might want to consider protecting your car seats with car seat covers and to bring a portable car vacuum to contain the mess. Pack pet wipes if your dog is the type to roll around in mud and quick-dry towels to dry off your pet for when he gets wet.

Protect Your Dog

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It’s extremely important to keep your dog safe at all times, whether they’re in the car or taking a short walk during a break. Never leave your dog alone in the car, and remove his leash once he’s in the car as he can get tangled or whiplash from the leash. When you’re leaving the car, always make sure that your pooch is leashed to ensure that he doesn’t run off on his own. 

There are a few other precautions that you can take to ensure your pet’s safety during a trip. If they’re prone to anxiety, a travel crate can be a great way to ensure that your dog has their own space in the car, and that they’re completely safe yet comfortable. It’s also important to use a travel crate that has been crash-tested, and secure the crate firmly to the vehicle floor or back seat. The crate also needs to be big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in, so that their movements aren’t restricted. 

Another option is to secure your dog with a crash-tested safety harness and seat belt. The harness is worn around the dog’s chest, the attached strap plugs go into the seat belt buckle. Not only does keeping your dog secure ensure their safety, but it also ensures that you can focus on your driving. If you have a smaller dog who likes to look out the window, you can also get animal seat boosters!

Wear Your Dog Out

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A restless dog is a stressed dog, and in turn, that will stress you out. Tiring your dog out before the trip can ensure a stress-free journey for everybody. Visit the dog park or take your dog on a long run so that your furry friend will be tired enough to stay calm during the car ride. If you’re lucky, maybe your dog will even sleep through the journey!

Keep Your Dog Entertained

Reduce your dog’s stress levels by playing a game of fetch or tug so your furry friend can have some fun while getting some exercise at big rest stops where there’s lots of space to run around. It’ll also wear him out so he can rest when you continue your journey. 

It’s also important to keep your dog entertained during the journey to keep your dog from distracting you while you drive. You can keep your dog busy during the ride by providing him with something to gnaw on, like a chew toy. Bonus points – it’ll also keep him from gnawing on seat belts.

Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Well-Being

Your dog shouldn’t feel restricted in the car, so make sure that he has enough space to stretch and move around a little bit. If he’s in a crate, ensure that the crate is tall enough for him to stand up. If he’s in a harness, make sure that the leash isn’t long enough for him to walk around as that can be dangerous for both you and your pet.

It’s important to keep an eye on your dog while travelling (while keeping an eye on the road, of course). If you notice that your dog is stressed or anxious, providing him with pressure wraps or calming supplements are good ways on how to keep your dog calm on a long car ride.

Take Frequent Breaks

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Taking frequent breaks is essential during long car rides. Just like humans, dogs can get restless during trips, too! One of the most common questions asked is how often to stop during road trips with dogs, and it’s recommended that you take a break at least every 2 to 3 hours.

During breaks, play with your dog, let him stretch his legs, and make sure that he’s fed and has had water. You should also ensure that your dog has time to relieve himself, so that there are no accidents in the car. Remember to pick up after your dog, so be sure to pack poo bags!


Preparation is key in ensuring a smooth journey for everybody. Taking the time to plan a list of the things you need to bring with you, and the route that you plan to take can make the trip much more enjoyable and stress-free. Ensure that your dog always has access to food and water, and that your pet is always safe. The next time you plan a road trip, remember to plan things around your pet! 

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