How to train your dog to travel in the car

Want to drive your pooch to new places? Here’s how to keep things safe as you take to the road.

Benny the lurcher sitting in boot of a car with safety grate.

Car travel is an important part of life for many dogs as it enables them to explore new and exciting places. But if you don’t follow good advice it can lead to stress, anxiety and even a visit to the vet – not so exciting.

It’s important to make sure dogs are always safe and feel confident when travelling in the car, regardless of where they might be going. Whether you’re bringing a puppy home in a car for the first time or looking for advice on travelling with your dog, this article has all the expert advice you’ll need to be happy and safe on the road. Dogs should never be left unattended in your car at any time of year, even for short periods. So if you’re planning a trip with a stop, it’s better to leave them safely at home or bring someone with you who can take the dog out of the car on a leash while you complete your errands.

If you see another dog in a car who seems distressed or unwell, call the police on 999 straight away. In Northern Ireland, you can call the regional Animal Welfare Officer or the PSNI on 999. 

Your guide to travelling happily with a dog in your car

Keep your dog secured in the car – it’s the law

In the UK, the Highway Code stipulates that your dog should be suitably restrained when travelling in a car. Your dog or puppy should either be secured within the boot with a guard blocking access to the car passenger interior, or they should be in a securely-positioned …

Get your dog used to the car

Start by using your puppy or dog’s favourite special treats to reward them for being calm whenever they’re near the car, even just walking around the car can be helpful to begin with. Reward your dog for sitting calmly before you’re ready to open the door and invite them …

Gradually introduce your dog to travel

It’s important to introduce car travel to your puppy or dog carefully. For some dogs, the sensation might feel very unusual to begin with, especially if they’ve never been in a car before.

For example, they might be worried by the things they can see moving past …

Getting your dog in and out of the car safely

If your dog has travelled before and enjoyed it, they might be very excited about jumping into the car and out of it when you arrive at the park – but this isn’t a good idea as it can put them at risk of injury or accident.

Ask them to sit while you slowly open the …

Driving with your dog in the car 

Start with short, slow and gentle journeys that will allow your dog to get used to car travel in a positive way. Having a friend, who your dog knows well and is comfortable with, accompanying you can be helpful so there is someone to be beside your dog if necessary while you …

What to do if your dog is anxious or frightened

If your dog is showing signs of being frightened about travelling in the car never force them to travel, as this is only going to make them even more worried, and they might feel trapped and panic.

Either find someone to stay with them when you need to travel, …

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