Is Your Puppy Ready For Their First Road Trip?

March 20, 2023

Is Your Puppy Ready For Their First Road Trip?

Traveling with a dog requires a few things, among them practice and preparation. Experiencing a cross-country trip with your puppy offers an experience that can strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. However, you first need to know how to prepare. 

You need to do more than get a few bags of clothes and supplies together hours before leaving home. A puppy road trip requires extensive planning, including puppy care and puppy training, to ensure your dog stays happy and healthy during the trip. 

If your pet has never been exposed to long rides, they may not enjoy a puppy road trip. Traveling with a dog means being aware of how they may react in the changes and environments they'll encounter. Just like humans, dogs like know what to expect. 

So, if you're traveling with a dog, do your best to ensure their comfort as much as yours. Here, we'll outline some basics you need to know about before embarking your pet on their first puppy road trip! 

What Will Your Puppy Need?

The necessities for puppy care are food and medication (if this is a part of your dog's daily routine). A few questions to ask yourself is: 

  • What items are essential for my dog?
  • How is my dog going to eat and drink water?
  • Where will I store my pets food and necessities?
  • Do I have enough space in my vehicle for everything I want to bring?

Here is a brief list of the necessities your puppy will need: 


Your furry friend will need to eat several times throughout the day to keep up with their growing bodies. You will need to have snacks ready and time dedicated to your road trip to let them eat. A great option to manage your puppy's care is using a large, sealable food bin. The food will stay fresh in the bin with extra space for medication and the rest of your supplies required for your puppy road trip. Keep the food bowl, water bowl, and a travel water bowl in the same area as the food. This makes it easy to find later!

Important Paperwork

You'll want to bring with you vet records if your dog has health conditions or is a service animal. Store any paperwork in a Ziploc bag to keep it from getting damaged. 


Puppy care includes a lot of toys - they require items of comfort or enrichment to keep them occupied during the trip. Give them toys for teething and a comfortable bed they can stretch out on while being mindful of puppy car safety. Enrichment toys will help keep them distracted during those long stretches on the road. A puzzle toy with peanut butter inside can keep them entertained for hours as they try to get every last lick of it off.

Warm Clothing

Consider the climate of the places you will be staying in. Puppies with low body fat or little to no undercoat will need to be kept warm in cooler weather. Pack a sweater or jacket to prevent them from getting too cold. Knowing what to pack is just as important as pre-trip puppy training.

Training and Preparation for the Trip

Your dog needs to be properly trained in preparation for a big trip. There should be a mutual understanding and respect between you and your canine friend to ensure that everyone is happy and healthy. You need your dog to be prepared for many new environments and situations. Please keep in mind that puppy training may require months of work. 

Your dog should be comfortable in these situations:

  • Calmly walking on a leash without pulling
  • Meeting new people without jumping on them
  • Waiting until you have released them to exit the vehicle
  • Socializing with other animals
  • Listening and responding to you, especially when off-leash

Make sure your puppy is as close to perfecting your puppy training regime before you start packing for your road trip. Some of these behaviors are essential for remaining safe while traveling with a dog. The most important thing is your puppy's listening skills. Be familiar with puppy car safety rules. 

Your dog can be seriously injured if they jump out of the car before you are ready to let them out. Imagine you need to make an emergency stop on the side of the road. You get out of the vehicle and your dog immediately follows you out without any caution to their surroundings next to moving traffic. 

When you work on your puppy training, learn to anticipate their movements. This is an important part of puppy care in an emergency. Communication between you and your dog is required for both of you to remain safe and happy on your puppy road trip. Start training your dog in preparation for your trip as soon as possible.  

Visit Your Vet

Before you plan your road trip, make sure your dog is caught up on all of their vaccinations. Keep a hard copy of those records safe with you in case of an emergency. Ask your vet to give you a health certificate. Health certificates are required on an airplane but can be helpful if you are questioned about their health on the road.

Consider having a physical done before traveling with a dog. A clean bill of health from the vet will give you some ease before leaving. A check-up is the most basic level of puppy care for an owner that benefits them the most. Ask your vet if you are unsure about any puppy car safety rules. 

Your vet can also give you guidance about puppy training before the trip.

Travel Practice

Start small with short car rides, then build them up to longer trips. Take your puppy on a drive to a park nearby or in the drive-thru. When you see they are comfortable with short day trips, take them on a drive to a park or neighborhood further away. Get them used to important puppy car safety rules.

Your dog needs to be at ease in the car for rides that last between 5 and 10 hours before committing to a full-length road trip. Mock trips will get both of you used to the experience and give you an idea of what to expect. Practicing is an important aspect of puppy care and puppy training for the trip. 

Puppy Car Safety 

We covered the importance of having your dog acquainted with sitting in the car for long durations and keeping them warm in cold climates. Puppy car safety also includes where they should be seated in the vehicle. 

Puppy car safety is the number one priority on a puppy road trip. You should never have your dog on your lap when you are behind the wheel. Give them their own space in the backseat. Letting your dog sit in the front seat while traveling with a dog can be extremely dangerous.

A doggy seatbelt or carrier is the safest way to travel with a dog to guarantee they are protected and not a distraction to you as you drive. You can work on this during your puppy training to get them used to the seat belt or staying in a carrier while in the car. 

Rewarding them with treats when they follow puppy car safety rules will reinforce positive behavior. Puppy care includes giving them their favorite toy to help them settle down if they start to get antsy. If you are worried they will be too anxious to sit alone in the back seat, bring a friend along who can keep them company. 

Getting Ready for the Trip

Traveling should be fun for your dog. Make sure your dog is well exercised without being overtired before you get into the vehicle with your dog. Regularly stop so that you get some time to relax and allow time for puppy care then your dog can get a chance to walk around and investigate a new environment.

Before you set off on your trip, invest in a day of fun puppy care. Let your dog spend extra time in the park with their friends or running around in the yard. Getting in some exercise will make up for all the upcoming time sitting in the car. It can also reduce some of the anxiety they may feel at the start of the road trip. 

Having a free day before the puppy road trip will give you time to get the vehicle packed with all the necessities. Brush up on some puppy training and puppy car safety tricks you have been working on to make sure you are both ready for the big day. 

How to Have a Successful Puppy Road Trip

Traveling with a dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Your first puppy road trip is a milestone in your canine best friend's life. Knowing what to bring and having your dog experienced with the routine of a long car ride will start you off successfully. With the proper training and safety techniques in place, you and your dog will be road trip buddies for life. 

We hope this guide helps you prepare for your big journey. Be sure to join our mailing list to read similar articles. 

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