AutoShip and save up to 10% | Find out more

5 Ways to give your dog an unforgettable car ride

Approx. 8 minutes read

They see me rollin’… they waggin’

Just one jangle of the car keys and your pup knows it’s time for a cruise about the neighbourhood. Add some fancy luggage near the front door and your furry friend’s anticipation for a long road trip sends them mental! We’ve all witnessed movie scenes of dogs with their heads out the window, ears flapping, tongues joyfully lolling… It seems idyllic, but there are actually very few dogs who can safely travel without turning the car into a slobbery, fur-ridden playground.

In this article, we’ll explore the safest and calmest way for your dog to travel by car. Give your dog the car ride they deserve: minimum anxiety, maximum enjoyment, and safe and fun to boot.

1. Get a dog car seat

If a dog car seat inspires the thought of your dog sitting stock-still in a booster seat on a four-hour road trip, that’s not what we’ve got in mind. Depending on the size of your dog, a car seat can mean different things.

  • R2 068.00 Add to cart

A dog car seat for small dogs

The best dog car seat for small dogs is a booster. It gives your little dog a literal boost; elevating them high enough to see out of the window and orientate them to the outside world. Lifted up to your level, your little furry buddy gets to share your travel experience with you – just make sure that if you’re taking pics of your four-legged passenger, someone else is doing the driving. Don’t get distracted!

A car booster seat is pawfect for little (and small-medium) dogs like Frenchies, Yorkies, Bosties, minpins, miniature and toy poodles and Chihuahuas – offering them a comfortable nook of safety with a woofing good view!

A dog car seat for large dogs

If you’re not the pet pawrent of a tiny ragamuffin, but rather that of a large hound, then you may think you can forego a booster seat and just strap your dog in behind a seatbelt in the backseat. Seatbelts aren’t just for compliance – they serve the purpose of restraint in the event of an accident… and technically they aren’t made for dogs’ bodies.

A dog car seat for large dogs comes in the form of a car seat hammock. Before you think of netting suspended between two palm trees at the beach, the dog car seat hammock serves a more functional purpose. It has straps that loop around the front and backseat headrests, keeping the hammock in place, which forms a convenient ‘basket’ to secure your large dog in the backseat, while still giving them freedom of movement. Car seat hammocks are usually made of thick canvas on top and a rubberised or waterproof bottom. This not only protects your car’s upholstery but also stops the hammock from sliding around while you’re driving.

  • R1 795.00 Add to cart
  • R649.00 Add to cart

If you drive a station wagon or SUV and your dog can comfortably ride along in the uncovered boot or luggage area, all you’ll need is a handy car boot cover. Since the boot already offers a secure area, place a tailor-made car boot cover over your upholstery; your dog will have a comfortable place to ride along and your upholstery won’t get exposed to muddy paws, dog hair and possible claw marks.

  • R1 121.00 Add to cart

If your dog is super chilled and loves a car ride enough to just lie down comfortably on the back seat, all you’ll need is a dog car blanket. All your dog will need is a treat and a pat on the head. Awww!

  • R690.00 Add to cart

2. Put up a dog car barrier

Make no mistake, pet heroes love their dogs – as in LOVE-love – and it’s defurnately a mutual love. When dogs know they’re going with you on an adventure in the car, they can get over-excited, jump up and down, and run around. This excitement, running and jumping doesn’t stop as soon as you get into the car. Many dogs will continue hopping from front seat to backseat, looking out of the left window, then jumping across to the right window and back into the front seat. Dogs also know the cues when you’re getting closer to your destination, and this can ramp up their excitement even more, adding whining and barking to the mix.

This is dangerous.

Too many car accidents occur because of a distracted driver. Your full attention should be on the road and on your surroundings when you drive. A dog hopping about in the car is a sure-fire way to steal your attention and put you and your furry friend at risk of an accident. If your dog is excitable and mobile in a car, the best way to curb their energy and enthusiasm is with training (i.e. they are only allowed into the car when relaxed and quiet). In the meantime, a dog car barrier or car net can be suspended behind the front seats, keeping your dog in the backseat so you can focus on the road.

  • R345.00 Add to cart

3. Get a dog ramp for your car

Most dogs will want to go on car trips with you – whether on a beachside holiday or a weekly trip to the dog park or on an annual vet visit. Getting in and out of the car is a cinch for healthy adult dogs, but may be problematic for some of our furry friends. A dog car ramp is the ideal way to protect your dog’s joints and spine if they are:

A dog car ramp is also ideal for all dogs when your vehicle is quite elevated, such as a 4×4 or SUV. Every time a dog jumps down from an elevated platform (furniture or a vehicle), the impact on their shoulders can cause joint injuries over time, so rather be safe than sorry. Your dog’s physical health and fitness is pawramount!

  • R3 649.00 Add to cart
  • R1 551.00 Add to cart
  • R1 723.00 Add to cart

4. Have these car travel accessories at hand

Sometimes going on a trip to grandma’s house or a quick drive to a friend won’t need much preparation – just open the backdoor, your dog hops in and you go. Usually, taking your dog anywhere in the car requires a little more thought and preparation, especially for a long trip. You can’t go wrong with these handy car travel accessories for your dog:

Water bowl

A collapsible travel bowl is SO convenient and takes up way less space than a conventional dog water bowl. Whichever option you choose, just always remember to take it with you. Dogs can easily become dehydrated, especially if they are excited in the car.

  • R575.00 Add to cart

Collar/harness and leash

Leash your dog before you get out of the car, especially in an unfurmiliar place. Not only will it prevent them from running into traffic (always take your dog out of the car on the pavement side!), but it’s the law in South Africa. According to municipal by-laws, all dogs must be leashed in public.

Seatbelt clip

This secures your dog’s collar or harness to the back seatbelt to stop them from being mobile in the car – a handy safety feature in the absence of a car seat or crate.

Calming medication

Pheromone-based calming meds are good to have on hand (we go into detail on this in our Calming article).

  • R463.00 Select options
  • R405.00 Select options
  • R818.00 Select options
  • R792.00 Select options

Treats

Offering your pooch a little positive reinforcement for staying relaxed in the car, using the car ramp correctly, or encouraging them to get back into the car after a pee break, will help to associate your car trips with pleasure and positivity. Spending time with you is the obvious pay-off!

  • R41.00 Select options
  • R25.00 Select options

Poop bags

Poop bags are very handy for when those pee breaks turn into poo breaks. Please always pick up and dispose of your dog’s mess responsibly.

  • R110.00 Read more
  • R369.00 Read more

Dog food

For longer trips or holidays away, make sure you’ve got enough dog food to last the duration of your trip.

Doggy first-aid kit

Thorn bushes, over-enthusiastic new doggy friends, ankle sprains, hypothermia, glass cuts – anything can happen while you’re away from home with your dog. A first-aid kit is a must when out and about with your furry friend.

  • R525.00 Select options

Grooming tools

If you’re travelling with your dog to the dog park, the beach, or any destination where they’ll be running, playing and exposed to nature, you’ll want to give them a good brushing or combing before getting back into the car. Have two or three towels handy to dry your dog off thoroughly before getting back into the car.

  • R176.00 Add to cart
  • R135.00 Add to cart

It will also be a good idea to check for any pesky parasites that may have hitched their own ride on your dog… and remove them, of course!

  • R65.00 Add to cart

5. Know the law on transporting a dog in your car

There is no South African law specifically relating to the restraint of your dog in your car, but The National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996) regulation 308 (1) states that:

No person driving or having a vehicle on a public road shall

(c)   permit any person, animal or object to occupy any position in or on such vehicle which may prevent the driver thereof from exercising complete control over the movements of the vehicle or signalling his or her intention of stopping, slowing down or changing direction;

and

  1. e)   when driving such vehicle, occupy such position that he or she does not have complete control over the vehicle or does not have a full view of the roadway and the traffic ahead of such vehicle.

Ruffly translated, that means your furry friend must be restrained or at least controlled to such an extent that they cannot distract your attention from the road while you’re driving. While it’s always cute to see a little dog on mom or dad’s lap, looking out through the windscreen, traffic is unpredictable. Anything can scare your dog, who can then obstruct your view or get in the way of the gear shift or steering wheel. Sometimes little dogs will also jump into the footwell, which can be disastrous for accelerating or braking!

Consider, too, that you have no control over other people’s driving, and if you are involved in a car accident, which deploys your airbags, the force of deployment could be fatal for your pup. If your dog is not restrained in the car, they become a dangerous projectile if you had to brake suddenly – causing you and especially themselves great harm.

It’s safer and calmer for everyone if your dog is kept calm and restricted to the backseat or uncovered boot section of your car. Just as you would keep a child in a car seat for their and your safety, so too should you consider your dog’s safety in the car.

Conclusion

How pawsome it is to go on a car trip with your dog – just ask them; they know! If yours is one of those dogs who is nervous or anxious on car rides, needs help to calm down in the car, or gets a little bilious or motion-sick, stay tuned – Pet Hero has got you! Check out our information and tips on How to get your dog used to travelling by car and How to deal with your dog’s car sickness.

Sign up to the Pet Hero newsletter for more furtastic content, competitions, product promotions and sales. No spam – only relevant, curated content to elevate your status as pet hero to your hero pets!

Subscribe to our newsletter
Share this article
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
    More like this...
    What is the best type of dog harness?

    A lot has been said about the pros and cons of dog collars vs harnesses, but since there are so many types of harnesses, how do you know which is the RIGHT one for your furry friend? In this article, we go in-depth into why some harnesses will work for your dog and some won’t – and then how to choose the best harness for your dog.

    How to get your dog used to travelling by car

    Car rides and road trips are supposed to be fun adventures – you, your family and your furry friend hitting the open road. But what if your dog is afraid of the car? Pet Hero to the rescue! We’ve got some handy advice to help you desensitise your dog to their fear of the car, keep them calm, and help them to look forward to going for a drive.

    What to give your dog for car sickness

    If you’re nervous of letting your dog travel in the car because they might get sick (again), rest assured, there’s a remedy for that. Let’s take a look at the difference between travel anxiety and car sickness, then choose the best car sickness remedy for your furry friend!

    All you need to know about taking your pet overseas

    Are social media posts about travelling the world with your pet giving you itchy feet? Here is what you should consider before travelling with your pet, as well as the step-by-step process of emigrating with pets if you are going abroad long term.

    Save with AutoShip

    Sit back and we will place your next order

    100% Secure Checkout

    MasterCard / Visa / America Express

    Pet Hero

    Leaving already?

    Sign up for our newsletter and get R50 off your first purchase.