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Everything To Know About Safely Traveling With a Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time. As a new member of your family, you want him to be included in everything you do—including traveling. The puppy stage is the best time to get a dog comfortable with all aspects of traveling. It's typically easier to desensitize a puppy to new things that older dogs may already fear, such as car engines, plane noises, city sounds, or trucks.

While you may want to start taking your puppy on trips right away, it's important to plan your travel while keeping your pet in mind. Here’s what to know about traveling with a puppy to ensure a smooth experience for both of you.

Before You Leave

Before you even leave for a trip with your puppy, there are a few important things you should do to prepare. The level of preparation will depend greatly on how long the trip is and where you’re heading.

1. Introduce Your Puppy to the Car Cars can be scary for dogs when they’re not used to them, so it’s important to make your puppy feel as comfortable as possible. This begins by simply introducing your pup to the car well before he’s going for a ride.

  • Let him walk around and sniff the car.

  • Allow him time to get comfortable in his area of the car.

  • Once he feels comfortable, turn on the engine.

  • When he’s okay with the sound, take him for a short ride.

Gradually increase the distance he travels in the car as he gets more comfortable. Ensure your puppy feels stable in the car by placing him on the floor or in the trunk of an SUV, where he can have a more stable grip.

2. Gather Your Gear Once your pup is comfortable in the car and you’re planning your first trip, make sure you have all the items you need for him:

  • Crate or dog barrier

  • Harness and dog seatbelt

  • Two leashes (regular and spare)

  • Collapsible water and food bowls

  • Poop bags

  • Baby wipes

  • Food and treats

  • Toys

  • Blanket or bed

  • Pet first aid kit

  • Doggles (dog goggles)

For interstate and international travel, additional documentation like a health certificate may be required. Check the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for specific requirements.

3. Have Up-To-Date ID Ensure your dog has a name tag with your contact information securely attached to his collar and that his microchip information is current.

4. Address Preventative Care Talk to your vet about where you’re traveling to make sure your pup has all necessary vaccines and preventative medications. Different areas have different disease risks, so plan accordingly.

During Your Trip

Now that you’ve done everything to prepare for your trip, here’s how to travel with your puppy safely.

1. Keep Your Puppy Safe When traveling with a puppy in the car, he should be restrained in a crate or with a dog harness seatbelt. This prevents him from becoming unstable and keeps him safe in the event of an accident. Puppy-proof your car to ensure there’s nothing dangerous he can get into.

2. Exercise Before Traveling Exercise physically and mentally exhausts puppies, making them more likely to remain calm and sleep throughout the trip.

3. Make Frequent Stops Puppies need regular potty breaks. It’s recommended to stop every two or three hours to allow him to go to the bathroom, stretch his legs, and have a water break.

4. Manage Car Sickness Puppies can get carsick. To help prevent motion sickness:

  • Keep the car cool and comfortable.

  • Open the windows for fresh air.

  • Avoid feeding your puppy within two or three hours of travel.

  • Give him a walk before traveling.

If needed, talk to your veterinarian about medications like Benadryl®, Meclizine, Dramamine, or Cerenia® to help with nausea.

5. Regulate the Temperature Dogs are more prone to overheating in cars than people, and puppies are especially sensitive to temperature changes. Never leave your puppy in a car alone. Ensure the car’s temperature is comfortable and consider using window shades to prevent direct sunlight from heating up the crate.

After You Arrive

When arriving at a new destination, acclimate your puppy to the area. Take a walk around, show him the yard and the home or hotel room, and introduce him to the new location of his water and food bowls. Lay out his toys and provide a familiar crate for sleeping to help him feel more comfortable.

Check the new place for any dangers, such as breaks or holes in a fence. Keep him on a leash until he gets used to his new environment.

Traveling is an amazing experience for animals, providing them with positive stimulation and strengthening your bond. By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and smooth trip with your puppy.

traveling with puppy
traveling with puppy


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