What You Need to Know About Travelling With Your Dog in the Car

Your dog is part of the family so it's natural to want to take them out and about with you. Car travel can be quite distressing for dogs, though, and you'll want to make it as comfortable a journey as possible for them. You also need to follow the law to protect you, your precious pup and other drivers. So what are the rules for taking your pet in the car and the dos and don'ts when on the road? Whether you're going to the local park or further afield for a holiday, our guide covers all you need to know about travelling with your dog in the car.

How to travel in the car with your dog

How should you transport your dog?

There are several ways you can transport your dog safely. Most importantly, your dog needs to be restrained whenever it’s in the car so it can’t distract you while you’re driving, or injure you or themselves if you have to stop quickly. This is part of the highway code and if you’re found to have not followed this rule after having an accident, you could be prosecuted for dangerous driving. It’s likely that your car insurance will also be affected if you do not restrain your pets correctly.

Here are some of the most common ways to transport your dog:

Crate: A metal dog crate will keep them safe and secure when you’re on the road and it will be easy to place in your boot.
Travel harness: These come in all different sizes so you should find something suitable for your dog. They fit snugly onto your dog and then clip into place, making it safe for them to sit either in the front or back. They can also be used for when they’re in the boot.
Carrier: Suitable for smaller dogs, a pet carrier is a more portable option than a crate and so is easier to transport.
Boot gate: If your dog gets into the boot of your car, a boot gate will stop them from trying to jump through to the front and can also offer protection in an accident. Your dog will still need to be secured using a harness.

Making your dog comfortable

There’s nothing more unsettling than a stressed-out dog, so it’s important to get them as comfortable as possible, especially on a long journey. It’s best to introduce them to driving at a young age with short journeys to get them used to the motion. If they’re prone to motion sickness, make sure they are travelling facing forward as this can really help.

It’s a good idea to give them time to digest any food before you travel to help make sure they don’t get sick on the ride. Be sure to take regular breaks, too, to let them stretch out during the journey.

Safe car travel for dogs in hot weather

When it’s hot outside, it can be even hotter in your car. Try to travel at cooler times in the early morning or late evening and keep your window open a little to circulate the air inside. Adjust fans and air-con to the back seats to keep the back as cool as possible. There are also lots of cooling aids on the market, such as a cool mat to keep their temperature down on the journey.

Take some water with you and a non-spill bowl to let them take a drink whenever they need it. It’s important to try to minimise the time in the car to give your dog an opportunity to get some fresh air. At no times should you leave your dog alone in the car – you could be putting them in danger, especially in hot weather.

Dos and don’ts of dog car travel

This handy list of dos and don’ts will give you all the tips you need for travelling with your dog.


  • Restrain your dog
  • Carry water and a travel water bowl
  • Make time for regular stops
  • Use window shades
  • Keep your dog comfortable and happy
  • Drive to fun places so they associate the car with a fun experience rather than a trip to the vets
  • Be aware of motion sickness, especially in younger dogs. Get some medication from the vet if this becomes a regular problem


  • Let your dog hang out the window as this can be very dangerous
  • Forget to switch off airbags as this may cause injury to a dog in an accident
  • Open up the window fully as your dog may be tempted to try to jump out
  • Travel without having your dog microchipped and be sure to use a collar with your name and address
  • Feed your dog right before you leave
  • Leave your dog alone in the car
  • Forget to take dog food and treats with you

It just takes a few extra steps to make your dog feel comfortable and at home in the car so that you can all enjoy travelling as a family. Give these handy tips a go to make the most of the great outdoors.

So you’ve got room for all the family and your dog, why not take a look at our list of the best large family cars.

Latest advice articles

Latest best of articles