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Long Car Trip With New Puppy – 7 Tips

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So you adopted a new furry little puppy from your local shelter or bought one from a local breeder and now you are planning a long trip. Now the question is: How do you prepare for that long car trip with new puppy?

Several things can go wrong on your journey with an energetic little fluff ball. So you need to prepare and make a checklist to ensure things stay under control. This will hopefully help you avoid any accidents on the drive. You definitely don’t want any pee or poop stains on your seats.

You also want your dog to remain calm and not get too nervous or scared on the trip. Some pooches are more anxious than others and may require some extra attention when it comes to riding in the car, especially for the first time.

Here are 7 Tips for that long car trip with new puppy:

Puppy Travel Checklist

Be Prepared With Supplies:

You want to make sure you have a few basic supplies before embarking on your road trip adventure with the new pup.

This way your are prepared for any unforeseen problems that may arise during the ride.

You want your dog to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible for the entire drive.


  1. Collar and Tag: Make sure that your new pup has a good fitting collar and the appropriate identification tag. This way if anything happens at a rest stop etc. people will have a way of contacting you to return the dog.
  2. Leash: A good leash is necessary in case you have to make any pit stops or potty breaks along the way. Obviously the leash won’t be necessary in the car since your puppy will likely be in a crate.
  3. Crate: A small travel crate for a new puppy is a good idea for long road trips. This is the best way to keep them safe while also giving them the freedom to stand up and turn around if need be. A good tip is to get them use to a crate while they are still with the breeder to prepare them for future trips in the car.
  4. Food and Water: This is obvious although many breeders will recommend no food or water to discourage any accidents or throw up on the drive. Make sure to have a food and water bowl for stops along the way.
  5. Cleaning Supplies: You will definitely want something to clean up any messes on your journey. A lot of dog owners recommend using Huggies Natural Care wipes. They are great for cleaning your puppies paws after a potty break.
  6. Toys: Make sure to bring a couple of your puppies favorite chew toys to keep them busy on the trip.
  7. Treats: You can bring a nice variety of chew treats for your dog to snack on during the car ride. This can help keep their mind occupied and may even lead to your dog catching some zzz’s.
  8. Medications: Obviously if your new puppy has any medications, you will need to bring them along. Some vets recommend Benedryl to help with anxiety and sleep on long car trips but check with your Vet to make sure this is appropriate for your dog.

Make Sure They Are Up To Date On Their Shots:

Dog Getting Ready To Get Their Vaccine Shot

If it is a new puppy, you will want to make sure they are up to date on all of their vaccine shots. There is a good chance they will be around other dogs and pets especially during rest stops. They could easily catch something or contract a disease through the feces of other animals.

Make sure your puppy has all 5 of the core vaccines:

  1. Adenovirus 2
  2. Canine distemper
  3. Canine parvovirus
  4. Parainfluenza virus
  5. Rabies virus

You definitely want to keep your little one safe on their journey. If you haven’t gotten their vaccines already, make an appointment with your local vet before you embark on your journey.

Get Them Used To Your Car Before The Trip:

Two Dogs Sniffing The Outside Of A Car

One of the best ways to ensure a stress free long car trip with new puppy is to get them familiar with the car early on. Gradually getting them used to your vehicle is a great way to instill confidence in your new puppy for the trip to come.

Here are three steps you can take to get them familiar with your car:

1. Let them explore the vehicle:

The first step is to let them explore the inside and outside of your vehicle. Let them sniff out the interior and get used to the smell and different parts of the car. You can put them in their crate and let them sit there for a little while getting used to their environment.

Once they are comfortable, you can start the engine so they get to know the sound it makes. Do this a few different times before moving on to the next step.

2. Take them for a short ride around the block:

The second step is to take them for a short little drive around the block or the neighborhood. This will let them get used to the sound the car makes and how the movement feels while the car is driving.

When you return home, give them a treat as a reward if they were good and remained quiet on the ride. Repeat if necessary until they can ride around without barking or whining.

3. Gradually take them on longer trips:

The third step is to gradually make the car rides longer and longer over a period of time. This will eventually increase the confidence in your dog, making them more comfortable on long drives.

Put Them In A Crate Or Use A Dog Barrier:

Long Car Trip With New Puppy

You have a few options when it comes to your long car trip with new puppy. The first and most important thing is to keep your furry loved one safe on the ride. You want them to be nice and secure in case there is an accident.

Small Crate:

A small travel crate is probably the best option for traveling with a new puppy. You can keep them in the back seat or the back of an SUV as long as there is sufficient air flow. This will give them enough room to move around if they get anxious. But it will also gives them some comfort and security in case they get nervous.

This will also keep your car clean if they happen to go potty on the drive. Find the proper sized small crate for your new puppy and make sure to give them a toy to chew on to keep them busy.

Dog Barrier:

Another good option is to use a dog barrier which will keep your dog in a certain section of the car or SUV. Normally they will go between the back seat and the rear trunk to give your dog their own little private area.

Dog Seat Belt:

The first two options are recommended but the last option is to use a dog seat belt. Most of them will attach to your car seat belts. They make several different types for all sizes of dogs.

Keep The Temperature Cool:

Keep The Temperature Cool

Make sure that your dog stays cool on the trip by running the air conditioning. Make sure it is working properly before you leave. You don’t want the AC to break down half way through your trip.

Here are some tips for keeping your puppy cool:

  1. Run the air conditioning to keep your puppy cool.
  2. Give them some cold water to keep them cool and hydrated on the ride.
  3. Use sun screens for shade and fans to keep them cool.
  4. Put on a cooling collar and or let them lay on a cooling pad to keep them nice and cool for the duration of the trip.

Make Some Stops Along The Way:

Puppy Going Potty Outside In The Grass

It is a good idea to make some pit stops along the way to let your new puppy go potty and walk around a little. They may need to burn off some of that energetic energy that comes with being a puppy.

Some tips for making stops on your trip:

  • Try to avoid the usual places that owners take their dogs to go potty. You want to avoid your new puppy sniffing all of the poop left from prior pups.
  • If you do visit a normal rest area, take your dog to an area that isn’t normally used, far away from the crowds. Some piece of mind and fresh air will do your new puppy good.
  • Locate dog friendly restroom areas on your trip. You can use Google Maps or BringFido to find them.
  • Use the app VetFinder24 if you have an emergency and need to see a Veterinarian on your road trip.
  • Be careful at gas stations and fast food restaurants. Your dog can encounter dangerous things such as busy streets, oil or radiator fluid spills from leaking cars or contaminated trash.

Never Leave Your New Puppy Alone In The Car:

Long Car Trip With New Puppy

This is a given but a tip that we have to reiterate when it comes to a long car trip with new puppy. You never under any circumstances want to leave your new puppy alone in the car.

According to the Humane Society:

ON A WARM DAY, the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in a matter of minutes—even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.

A Heat Stroke:

This is of course the main reason to not leave your puppy alone in the car. Heat stress is extremely serious and can lead to death if the dog is left unattended in an empty vehicle for too long.

Symptoms of heat stress:

  • Eyes are glazed over
  • Fast pulse
  • Gait is staggering
  • Heavy panting
  • Tongue is deep purple or red
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vomiting

Emergency Steps if dog is overheated:

  • Lower their body temperature slowly by sprinkling some cool water on their body. Do not pour water on them or soak them in cool or cold water. This could cause them to become too cold.
  • Use some towels that are cool and wet to place on certain areas of the dog including their armpits, back of the neck and groin area. Additionally, you can wet their ear flaps and paws with some cool water. If a fan is available, blow it on those wet areas to speed up the cooling process.
  • See if your dog will drink some cool water if they are alert enough but don’t force it on them.

Dog Theft:

Dog theft is another big reason not to leave your puppy alone in the car even for a minute. Several pets are stolen every year from cars that are unattended.

Thieves will take part in what they call “dog flipping” in which the thief steals a dog and then flips it for a quick profit. They will also sometimes adopt a dog from the shelter and sell it for a profit.

Types of dogs thieves target:

  • Bulldogs
  • Chihuahuas
  • French Bulldogs
  • Yorkshire Terriers

Getting a microchip in your dog is one of the best ways to safeguard against losing your dog if it happens to get stolen.

Some Final Tips For Your Long Car Trip With New Puppy:

  • Don’t go on a long trip until they are familiar with the car and driving.
  • Never leave your new puppy alone in the car.
  • Don’t let your dog stick their head out of the window.
  • Never leave them in the back bed of a truck.
  • Don’t drive with your dog in your lap.

In Closing:

I hope that these 7 tips for your long car trip with new puppy will help you be safe and prepared for your next adventure! If you are looking for some cool places to take your dog on a vacation check out our article “Dog Friendly Places To Go In The U.S.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Do you have any new tips for anyone going on a long car trip with new puppy? Let us know! We would love to hear about it!

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