Bringing a Puppy Home in the Car – Travelling & Transporting Your Puppy

puppy in car

Traveling with a puppy in a vehicle can be stressful for both you and the puppy. It can also be an important bonding, and training exercise with the right tools and information.  

Bringing a puppy home in a car requires planning.  There are certain factors to take into question when transporting a puppy. Items that could be necessary such as a crate or cleaning supplies, or even the type of collar or harness are just a few of the things you need to consider.  Furthermore, your new puppy might exhibit certain behaviors including motion sickness or stress.  Learn to identify the symptoms and ways to prevent or treat it.

These are some general topics that will be covered in further detail.  With the information provided, bringing your puppy home for the very first time can be a joyful experience, rather than a disastrous one.

What to Take to Pick Up a Puppy

Preparing for traveling with your puppy is essential.  Before picking up your puppy, create a list of the necessary items you will need.  Firstly, if you don’t have a passenger to assist with puppy distractions, then a kennel or crate is ideal.  Line the crate/kennel with a puppy pad, in case of accidents.  In addition, a blanket and toy such as a chew stick will keep your puppy occupied during the long ride.  Puppies, especially if they are unfamiliar with you, need to feel comfort and safety.

Take a collar and leash, as you will make frequent stops for potty breaks. Before purchasing a collar verify the size needed from whomever you are obtaining the puppy.  Sometimes, a harness will be a better suit to prevent the puppy from pulling free from the collar. This depends on whether or not the pup is accustomed to walking with a collar and leash.

Bring food and water for your puppy, plus bowls for each.  During a long ride in a car, your puppy will get thirsty and hungry.  If you can, provide the brand of food the pup is familiar with as this will narrow the chances of him/her having stomach issues and possible diarrhea.

Lastly, you’ll need cleaning products in case of accidents, or car sickness.  A roll of paper towels and a disinfectant or bleach spray are necessary when transporting a puppy.  Make sure that the disinfectant is not poisonous to your pet, prior to using it.  Furthermore, carry a plastic or paper bag for disposal of items and waste after use.

How to Transport a Dog or Puppy Without a Crate or Kennel

Bringing home a puppy in a car without a crate or kennel is still possible.  An additional item to bring amongst the ones already listed is a passenger.  Without the puppy being restrained, it could cause distractions while driving. 

A puppy has yet to know its boundaries.  The possibility of it wanting to jump in your lap or roam freely in the vehicle is high.  This is where your passenger comes into play.   His or her job is to prevent that from happening so you can concentrate on driving safely.

Also, whether the puppy is kept in the back seat or the hatch area, you’ll still want to cover the area with puppy pads for accidents to protect your seats or flooring from stains. 

Introducing Your Puppy to You and the Car

Knowing how to bring a puppy home in a car is essential.  At this point, the puppy probably hasn’t met you and most likely will be nervous.  It is important to establish a friendship prior to loading your puppy into the car.  Spend time outside the vehicle interacting with the pup by playing, petting, and rewarding with treats.  

When the pup has become receptive to your attention, introduce the vehicle.  Open the doors and hatch if you have one and let the pup roam freely around or in the vehicle.  Reassure the puppy that the car will not hurt him/her and offer rewards.  After you feel the pup has become comfortable with the surroundings, calmly place the pup in the car or kennel without closing the door.  

Introduce the puppy to the toys inside and watch how he/she responds.  Offer treats as a reward for staying in the vehicle or kennel, then softly close the door.  It is possible that the puppy might whine and cry as it’s not accustomed to confinement.  

This behaviour will generally cease rather quickly, especially if you are able to sit next to the kennel or the puppy during the majority of the ride.

Puppy Motion Sickness Explained

Motion sickness sometimes occurs with puppies and dogs.  According to the AKC, a few reasons a puppy might get motion sickness are, one being physical elements and the other, psychological.  

With the physical aspect, the reason is balance and generally it’s because structures in the inner ear haven’t fully developed.  However, the most common cause is psychological.  Anxiety and stress can have an impact on whether or not your puppy gets car sick.

Symptoms of Puppy Motion Sickness

Various signs are evident if your puppy is prone to motion sickness.  An obvious symptom is excessive drooling combined with smacking or licking lips. Also, he/she will exhibit lethargy and become less active.  Sometimes, whining or pacing can be a symptom and is generally followed by the puppy vomiting or having a bout of diarrhea.  If the puppy exhibits these signs, stop the car, and walk with the puppy outside to temporarily relieve its stress.

Preventatives and Remedies to Relieve Puppy Motion Sickness

When transporting your puppy, you can’t control if your pup is prone to motion sickness, but you can possibly prevent or alleviate the possibility of it.  A few suggestions that could help are…

  • Keep the car cool with the air conditioner, or roll the windows down slightly for fresh, circulating air.
  • Food and water should be limited prior to traveling.
  • Place the kennel near a vent or window, and, if possible, have your puppy face forward.
  • Keep the ride as smooth as possible; sharp turns and sudden stops can trigger motion sickness.
  • Place a familiar item in the kennel for comfort.
  • Make frequent stops and walk the puppy
  • Have a vet prescribe motion sickness or anti-stress medication.

What to Know About Potty Breaks

Traveling with a puppy will take longer than if you were traveling by yourself.  Frequent stops are necessary every hour or less.  A puppies bladder is smaller than an adult dog; therefore, several stops may be required.

Most puppies will exhibit whining and pacing in an attempt to alert you of their needs.  If this occurs, pay attention to this telling sign and pull over.  By doing so, you might be able to prevent having to clean up after your puppy.

Make sure the collar or harness is secure and a leash is attached prior to letting your puppy out of the vehicle.  This step is for their safety as well as yours.  Generally, the pup will immediately go about its business.  However, if they don’t, let them sniff the ground to find the perfect spot.  Many smells are left behind from previous animals, so it isn’t uncommon for your puppy to explore them all before relieving itself.

This event is also an excellent training exercise for housebreaking your pup.  Reward your puppy for pottying outside, and soon it will relate to receiving the reward with good behaviour.

In conclusion, following these important tips and suggestions will make traveling and transporting your puppy easier for you and the puppy.

Related Question/s

How can I bring my 8-week old puppy home?

Whether you are transporting an adult dog home or an 8-week old puppy, the same applies to all aged dogs or puppies.  A younger puppy might require more attention and more potty breaks, but in general the same rules apply.  However, if the puppy is extremely small, you might want to consider keeping it in a crate or box with potty pads instead of taking it for walks.

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