Traviling with a dog in the car

Travelling with a Dog in a Car: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on 11/04/2024 by Claire Coney

Travelling with a dog in the car can be a wonderful experience for the pet and the owner. My dogs love travelling in the car. It’s an opportunity to explore new places together and create lasting memories. However, it’s essential to ensure the safety and comfort of your furry friend during the journey. Here’s my ultimate guide to help you prepare for a road trip with your dog.  

Taking a break on our road trip.
Taking a break on our road trip.

What To Consider Before Travelling In A Car with Your Dog?  

Consider whether your dog would benefit from extra training before you travel. Also, Check your dog’s health and documents are up to date.  

Training for Your Dog Before You Travel  

Training is key to travelling in a car with your furry friend successfully. Take some short trips with your dog before embarking on a long road trip. Monitor your dog’s reactions to being in a car. Gradually acclimate them to longer periods of travel. This can reduce travel anxiety and make the car a familiar and safe space.  

Health and Documentation  

Ensure your dog is healthy before you travel. Take the opportunity for your dog to have a health check with a vet before travelling. Bring your dog’s medical records, especially if your dog has a health condition. Check that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. And ensure their microchip and ID tags are up to date. The ID tag should have your home address and phone number. If Fido becomes lost in unfamiliar surroundings someone can contact, you if they find him. I am sure you will be overjoyed to be reunited with your best furry friend.    

UK Law for Travelling With a Dog In The Car    

Did you know, that if your dog is not restrained in the car, you could be breaking the law?      

The Highway Code States     

‘It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure pets are restrained in the car. This is so that they cannot distract you while you are driving. This also helps to prevent them from injuring you or themselves if you stop quickly.’   


A serious accident could happen if your pet distracted you. This is dangerous driving and the accident is your fault! You should also check your insurance policy. Some providers may require you to restrain your pet while driving. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when travelling with a dog in the car.    

The Dogs Trust Survey Revealed        

  • 60% of drivers believe having a dog unrestrained in the car is dangerous.      
  •  44% of drivers do not restrain their dogs in the car.      
  •  25% of drivers admitted that they find their dogs a distraction while driving.      
  •  10% of drivers said they take their hands off the steering wheel to restrain their dog while driving.      

You can read more about keeping your dog safe when travelling in the car.   

Planning A Journey with Your Dog  

It’s always exciting going on a trip with your dog. Make sure that you pack everything that you need for your trip. Planning the route can be fun.  

Pack a Travel Bag For Your Dog     

Make a checklist of all the things that you will need when travelling with a dog in the car. Remember to take Fido’s usual food, water and bowls. Don’t forget to pack any medication he needs for health conditions. A healthy dog is a happy dog. You will also need Fido’s health and immunisation documents. You should also include plenty of poo bags for clearing up after your furry friend. Poo bags can be stored in a poo bag holder. Finally, you should have a doggy first aid kit for emergencies. It might also be worth having a dog first aid book to hand. Don’t forget their favourite toy or blanket to give them a sense of security.  

Planning Your Route with Your Dog in Mind 

When planning a road trip with your furry friend, it’s essential to consider their needs. Websites like BringFido offer extensive directories of pet-friendly places. It includes hotels, restaurants, and dog parks. This will ensure a comfortable journey for both you and your pet. Additionally, some rest stops have gone the extra mile to accommodate pets. They provide fenced dog parks and other amenities to make your travel experience more enjoyable. Always remember to check the pet policies of accommodations in advance to ensure a smooth and stress-free trip.  

travelling with a dog in a car
Abigail enjoying a ride in the van.

During the Car trip with your Dog  

Here are some things that will help you with your dog during your care journey. 

How Can You Transport Your Dog Safely In A Car?       

The safety of your dog is paramount. Choose a suitable restraint method to secure your dog in the vehicle. Options include a carrier, back seat hammock, travel harness, dog crate, or boot guard. It’s crucial to prevent your dog from roaming freely in the car. This can be dangerous for both the pet and the driver. You can find out how to choose a dog crate here.  

Traviling with a dog in the car
Abigail and Charlie are safely secured in the boot of our car using a boot guard.

Can Dogs Travel In The Front Seat Of The Car?        

Dogs can only travel on the front seat of the car if you switch off the passenger-side airbag. Also, move the seat as far back as possible. Airbags are good for humans but can kill dogs. However, it is safer for your dog to travel in the back of the car. The dog is also less likely to distract you when you are driving.       

Do’s and Don’ts For Travelling with Your Dog in A Car: 

This list of do’s and don’ts will help ensure the safety and comfort of your dog while travelling in your car.

Don’t Let Your Dog Stick Their Head Out Of The Window!      

Fido could knock his head against something if he had his head out of the window. It is also dangerous as Fido might fall out of the window or distract other drivers.      

Keeping your dog safe in a car.

Do Stop Regularly When Travelling With Your Dog in The Car     

It is important when planning your journey, with your dog in the car that you leave plenty of time to stop along the way. Fido will need to stop and stretch his legs, go to the toilet and have a drink. Make sure you offer Fido water regularly on the journey. Your dog needs to remain hydrated. You could use a travel water bowl as these can be flattened and stored easily. A spill-proof bowl can be handy to prevent messes.  

Most service stations have a dog walking area or you could break up your journey with a trip to the park. You could go out for a short walk or have lunch in a dog-friendly cafe along the way. This will also make the journey easier if you are travelling alone with your dog.      

Why not make your journey with Fido fun? It is part of your adventure after all.      

Don’t Leave Your Dog In The Car When It’s Hot!        

Never leave your dog in the car alone. The rate at which a vehicle can heat up is alarming. If it is sunny and the temperature outside is 24C, within 10 minutes it can reach 38C inside the car. Within 30 minutes it will be approaching 50C. If you leave Fido in that sort of heat he will gradually increase his core temperature. Dogs cannot sweat and are unable to cool themselves down quickly enough by panting alone. Once Fido’s core temperature reaches 41.5C his cells will start to break down. Then the enzymes will be destroyed. Remember dogs die in hot cars!  Besides, passers-by may break the window to release the trapped dog to end his suffering.      

If you are waiting in the car with Fido, make sure you are parked in the shade. Open the windows to let in some air. Alternatively, put the air conditioning on to keep him cool. You can also use cooling aids such as cool mats.      

If the weather is hot you should travel in the early morning or late evening. These tend to be the coolest times of the day for travelling in a car with your dog. Moreover, you can miss the traffic jams this way. This would increase your journey times and the amount of time that Fido is in the car. Why make the journey more stressful than it needs to be?      

Do Use Window Shades       

Using window shades will keep the direct sunlight off Fido and help to keep the car cool.      

Be Mindful of Motion Sickness       

Understand the signs of motion sickness and take steps to prevent it. Feed your dog a light meal three to four hours before departure to prevent car sickness. Ensure your dog is well-hydrated and comfortable throughout the trip. Keeping Fido happy and comfortable might be as simple as giving him his favourite toy or blanket. Dogs generally suffer less if they are facing forward when you are driving.  

However, if you are concerned about this visit your vet and they may be able to prescribe medication. Alternatively, try Calming tablets. These work well and help Abigail and Charlie relax on long journeys.  

Arriving at Your Dog-Friendly Destination       

Fido will need time to get used to the new smells of the hotel, B&B, or campsite. Also, he will need plenty of naps throughout the holiday for relaxation.   

Enjoying the Journey  

Once you’ve taken the necessary precautions and preparations, it’s time to enjoy the trip with your canine companion. Remember to capture the moments and have fun. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable road trip with your dog. Happy travels!  

Wrapping It Up  

You have learnt a lot about travelling with a dog in a Car safely. Here are some main points to remember:  

  • Before you travel with your dog in a car consider if your dog needs extra training. Also, Check your dog’s health and documents are up to date.  
  • You have learnt that your dog must be restrained in the car, to follow UK laws.     
  • Plan your route carefully and pack everything you need to travel with your furry friend.  
  • When you’re in the car with a dog know the do’s and don’ts of how to transport your dog safely to your destination.  

With these tips, you can Travel with a Dog in your Car Safely and have a great time together on your next adventure.  

Now I am curious:  

Where did you and your dog go? And what kind of dog restraint did you use in your car?  

Share your experience in the comments below.  

If you want more tips on How to Keep My Dog Safe When Travelling in a Car check out this article.  

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them to make a purchase I might earn a commission. I link to companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive. The decision is yours, and whether you buy something is completely up to you.  

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