Traveling in the Car with Your Dog on Vacation

Arrive Safely and On Time

Headed out on a road trip? Maybe you should consider bringing your dog(s) along for the fun!

There are lots of things to remember, and a few pitfalls, so here are some great tips for keeping your pets safe and happy as you drive to your destination.

Secure Your Dog's Seating

One of the first things you should do is figure out where your dog's seat is in the car. This depends on the number of people traveling with you, the size of your vehicle, speaker placement, and the apperatus (if any) that your dog will travel in.

If you have an SUV, wagon, or hatchback you can set up your dog's crate (or get one that fits your car if you don't already own one)

Depending on the breed and size, you have a few different options to secure your dog:

  • Crate
    Use a crate when traveling with a large dog.
  • Pet Carrier
    Pet carriers are good for smaller dogs.
  • Car Seat
    Car seats for dogs are a popular option for owners of smaller breeds.
  • Harness
    Attach your dog's harness to the seat.
  • Passenger's Lap
    The least safe option, if your dog is small enough you can hold them in your lap.

Safety First

The top priority is getting you and your passengers to your destination safely.

Here's a quick safety checklist:

  1. Make sure your view is never obstructed by your pet or their harness
  2. Never let your dog sit unharnessed in the front seat
  3. Don't let your dog climb around the car

Regular Bathroom Breaks

It's good to plan out a schedule of bathroom breaks and general rest/stretch time for yourself, but it is even more important when you're traveling with your dog.

If you're driving on a major interstate there are usually rest stops every 10-30 miles that let you get out of the car for a few minutes to go to the bathroom or stretch your legs.

A lot of the rest areas have grassy sections that let your dog stretch their legs and pick a good spot to go. Make sure you have a poop bag on hand or you'll get yelled at by the staff. No one likes stepping in it!


A great time to feed your dog is at a rest stop. Bring two dishes (one for food, one for water), enough dry dog food to last your dog the entire car trip, and lots of bottled of water.

Keep each of these in separate plastic Ziploc bags to avoid spills and leaks. You should wash out the food dish with some bottled water before repacking it, otherwise it gets funky.

Turn Down the Music

If your dog is situated near a car speaker or if you have a 12" subwoofer and like bass CD's you might want to remember that your dog's hearing is a lot better than yours.

Listening to music very loudly for extended periods of time may cause damage to your dog's ears or even create psychological problems.

Heat and Air Conditioning

Depending on where your canine is seated, you'll want to be careful not to put them in a spot where they'll get blasted with hot or cold air.

Checklist for Driving with Your Dog

  1. Crate or carry bag
  2. Leash and Collar with ID tag
  3. Enough food for the trip in a Ziploc bag
  4. Dog Treats (greenies, dog biscuits, pig ears, etc)
  5. Bottled water - it's good for you too!
  6. Favorite chew toys

Pet-Friendly Vacation Rentals

3 Bedroom Home
Cape Coral, Florida
3 Bedroom Home
Summerland Key, Florida
3 Bedroom Condo
Mont Tremblant, Quebec

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