A road trip with your best friend! Your best furry friend, that is. Nothing can top the utter, childlike joy of a dog’s smiling face out the window as you drive along. As much as driving your beloved pet around with you can be fun for them and sometimes necessary (visiting the vet, the groomer, moving, etc.) it can become very dangerous, very easily. We’re going to let you in on a few safety tips for your canine companion, for puppies and for full grown dogs alike.

1. Bring Supplies

Regardless of whether you’re going for a long trip or a short run to the groomer and back, make sure you have everything you need for your dog, especially puppies! Collars, ID tags with a current phone number/address, water, doggie bags, and even some kibble and treats. Puppies can’t exactly “hold it.” You never know if you’ll be in an accident or delayed in another way, so be prepared. If something does happen with and your dog is with you, it’s one less thing to worry about- and a potential liability will turn into your dependable companion instead.

2. Kennels

As much as we know you’d love to cuddle the whole trip there and back, the safest place for a larger dog is actually in a kennel. Although they may not appreciate the confinement themselves, an appropriately sized kennel is often the safest option for long distance travel. And don’t forget to buckle down that crate! If it’s for a smaller dog in the back seat, buckle in the kennel. For the back of a truck and for larger dogs, try securing the kennel with bungee cords or purchase a kennel with its own features to tie it down.

3. Seatbelts

If you haven’t the size or space for a crate, e.g., a big dog and a tiny car, looking into dog seat belts is another option. It may sound silly, but it’s safer. There are different belts out there that vary based on the size and strength of your dog, and also the size of your car.

4. Help Them Calm Down

Kennels and seatbelts are significantly safer, but if you are in a situation where you’ve got somewhere to go, for example, in a friend’s care with no special belts or buckles, your dog’s temperament is everything. It serves you many purposes to teach your dog to stay calm in the car, as exciting as the prospect is for most puppies. Some may happily nap on the floor, others sit up anxiously or wiggle excitedly the whole trip. You can begin to train your puppy or dog to have “car manners,” but know it’s a two person job. One to drive, and one to sit with your pup in the back to give them treats, cuddles, or other rewards anytime they sit down on their own, accompanied by cue words. Eventually, your smart pup will associate laying down with treats and cues, just as any other dog trick works, and you have your safety protocol set! This may take more or less time depending on your furry friend’s temperament, but they’ll learn eventually with loving patience and persistence from their owners.

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