I have to put my dog in the car almost daily. Between daycare, trips to the park, and the occasional errand, he travels a lot. He isn’t the biggest fan of car rides — and I’m not the biggest fan of his fur sticking to everything — so we’ve had to put in some effort to make the car more comfortable for us all.
Follow these steps to turn your vehicle into a safe, secure, and exciting place for your dog.
Cover your seats and windows
Dogs wreak havoc on both leather and cloth car seats. They shed, drool, scratch, and track in dirt. They may even pee inside (god forbid!).
Seat covers can help minimise the damage, plus they’re easy to shake out or vacuum when needed.
We prefer a hammock-style cover (something like this) for our backseat because it protects both the seats and the floor, but you can find a variety of shapes and materials or just use an old blanket or towel.
If your dog likes to press their nose up against your windows and leave smudge marks behind, you can cover them (plus any leather or vinyl trim) with plastic wrap and simply remove it after your ride.
Some level of mess is probably unavoidable when you take your dog along, but you can mitigate some of this with the right tools.
Buckle them in
Having your dog pace back and forth or jump from seat to seat as you’re driving is not only distracting — it’s also dangerous for both of you. Several states actually require dogs to be restrained in moving vehicles.
Even if your dog is chill on car rides, get them a harness that you can thread a seatbelt through, a tether that clips into a buckle, or a utility hook that attaches to their harness.
This will keep them from landing in your lap, jumping out the window in pursuit of a squirrel, or in the event of an accident, getting tossed around the car.
Other options are to confine your dog on the floor between seats, put them in a carrier or booster seat, or use a crate that’s secured in the rear of your car.
Stock a step stool or ramp
If your dog is a senior, injured, or has difficulty jumping into the car, keep a step stool or retractable ramp in your trunk. This keeps you from having to pick them up and place them inside.
If you go with a ramp, choose one that is long enough to create an easy angle and sturdy enough not to rattle or sway when your dog walks on it.
Make a dog care kit
Fill a basket or plastic bin of items you might need while you’re out and about with your dog. This might include:
A collapsible bowl and full water jug
An extra leash
A collar or harness light
First aid supplies
Towels (one for cleaning off dirt, one for drying wet fur)
Wet wipes for dirty paws
Pet deodorant spray
A lint roller (for heavy shedders)
We also keep extra tennis balls and frisbees in the car for trips to the park.
And, of course, never leave your pup alone in the car — especially in warm weather. Interior temperatures can rise well above air temperature in a matter of minutes, even with the windows cracked.
Dogs can suffer heat stroke as well as injury due to cold temperatures and lack of ventilation or water. Take care of those puppers and they will take care of you.