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A Guide for Travelling with a Dog in the Car


Training and Behaviour



With Summer in full swing, it often means we are also planning some road trips to see family and friends or to check out a new part of Aotearoa, especially with the current restrictions on international travel.

For those with puppies or who are new to long car rides with dogs, we have put together a guide to help plan and travel with a dog in the car long distance.

How to Plan a Road Trip with your Dog

When you go on a road trip with your dog, planning is key to making it comfortable and enjoyable for both of you.

Make sure your destination is dog-friendly and you understand the environment beforehand. Ask questions such as;

  • Is the place fenced?
  • Where will my dog sleep?
  • Will the place have children or other pets and what are they like?
  • Are there any dog restrictions or rules?
  • Is there an off-leash park or beach near?
  • Will there be a sufficient amount of shade?
    A new place has lots of exciting smells but it is best that you familiarise yourself with any potential risks or rules, and you are prepared, so you and your dog are comfortable and enjoy your holiday. Planning will also help you pack a bag appropriately for your dog.

7 Simple Tips for Travelling with a Dog in the Car Long Distance

1. Pack a bag for your dog

The essential items you should take for your dog in the car:

  • Some water and a dog water bottle or portable dog water bowl
  • Some poo bags, a lead, and some treats for breaks
  • Their preferred travel solution to keep them safe and secure when travelling in the car - this could be a dog car harness and dog seat belt or car restraint, their car seat or booster, or dog crate or carrier.
  • A dog car seat cover or old sheet to protect your car's upholstery
  • Some dog calming capsules or spray if they are prone to getting car sick
  • A familiar dog blanket and toy if they are nervous

What you should pack for your dog when going on a holiday or trip:

  • A dog collar or harness, and a lead
  • Make sure your dog has a name tag with your contact details on it
  • Enough dog food for the whole trip or find our a local shop that stocks your dog food
  • Some dog bowls to drink and eat from
  • Dog treats
  • A dog bed and blanket, as well as their crate if needed
  • A couple of their favourite dog toys
  • Poo bags
  • A dog towel or some paper towels (can come in handy for cleaning up)

2. Get your dog familiar with car travel

if your dog is new to travelling in the car, make sure you take some shorter local trips in the car to get them used to the sensation of being in a car before setting off on a long-distance road trip. Be sure to pay attention to signs of car sickness or feeling ill.

3. Restrain or secure your dog in the car

Restraining or securing your dog in the car by a harness and a dog seatbelt or in a crate or carrier is for the safety of you and your pet. There are different dog travel solutions you can choose from such as a harness and a dog seatbelt or in a crate or carrier.

Under New Zealand law, dogs riding on the back of a truck, trailer, or ute, travelling on a public road, must be secured in a dog crate or with a lead.

4. Don't let your dog ride in the front seat

As much as your dog may love riding shotgun - it’s a big no-no even if your pet is on someone’s lap.

In the case of an accident, your dog can be seriously injured or even killed by the force of your car's airbags deploying. It is always best to have them secured safely in the car's backseat, tray, or boot.

5. Don’t leave your dog in a parked car

When travelling with your dog be sure to never leave them unattended in your car as temperatures can rise really quickly even on a cloudy day in Summer.

6. Plan dog-friendly stops on your road trip route

The whole family needs breaks on long road trips including your pet. When travelling with a dog in the car, take a break every two hours so they can go to the bathroom, stretch their legs, and have a sniff. It helps to plan a route with dog-friendly cafes and parks for breaks along the way to your destination.

7. Bring a supply of water for your dog

Dogs need regular access to water to stay hydrated. Long distances mean lots of stops and water can vary from place to place. The change in water can cause an upset stomach, so it is always safest to limit the change by bringing water for your dog from home. Portable dog bowls or dog water bottles make it much easier to give your dog a drink on the go!

Learn how to keep your pet hydrated this summer.

Make sure you plan and pack the right dog gear, so your road trip goes well whether it is short or long distance, and most importantly, it is enjoyable for both of you.

Happy travels!