How to Transport a Puppy in a Car

After initial hesitation, dogs usually enjoy car rides.
i nice breeze image by John Sfondilias from

Some puppies may view cars as big, scary things that make loud noises and congregate with other big, loud, scary things. Others may jump right in your car when you offer. Puppies that are more cautious might need a treat or 10 to be convinced a car ride is fun.

Step 1

Allow your puppy to digest his meal for about two to three hours after eating. Full stomachs, little puppies and car rides don’t mix. Some pups naturally experience motion sickness. Those that don’t are sure to experience it when they’re full of kibble.

Step 2

Set up a crate on your car's backseat. The crate should be large enough to comfortably accommodate your dog comfortably -- he should be able to turn around, lie and stand in it. You can secure your dog in with a harness seat belt instead of using a crate. In some cases, especially with larger breeds, you may find it easier.

Step 3

Bring your dog outside on his leash. Have a treat in hand. Keep the car turned off and open the back door. Some puppies will eagerly jump in, while others may be more hesitant. They’re usually easier to coax inside than adult dogs, though. Reassure him everything’s fine and try to lure him into the car with a treat.

Step 4

Allow him to enter the car on his own accord, if he’s able. If he shows interest but is too small to jump inside, pick him up and set him on the seat. If he is hesitant, allow him to progress at his own speed. Your car is like a foreign object to him, and he needs to make sure it’s safe before proceeding.

Step 5

Direct him to his crate with a guiding hand or treat. Allow him to sit inside and lay down while the door is open. After he seems comfortable with the idea, close the crate door. Secure the crate by wrapping a seat belt around it and clicking the belt in place. If you’re not using a crate, attach his seat belt harness. The harness might freak him out. Reassure him and give him treats when he’s calm and behaved.

Step 6

Start your engine and roll your windows down to give your pup some fresh air. Give him another treat if he seems OK with the car turned on. The goal is to reinforce his positive behavior so future car rides are looked forward to rather than feared.

Step 7

Drive short distances at first. Gradually increasing the time your puppy spends in the car is the best strategy, because it allows him to ease into the unfamiliar. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests increasing driving time by five minutes every two or three days.

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