How to Bring Home a Puppy in a Car Safely

The day has finally arrived, you are going to collect your adorable new puppy. You’ve picked the best name, loads of nice toys, maybe even a little bed!

It’s normal to be a little anxious about the first journey with your puppy, so we’ve put together our top tips to help you plan your ride!

Safety First

Consider how you are going to restrain your puppy.

Not only does it keep toileting accidents to a confined area, it’s essential for the safety of everyone in the car.

A loose puppy will be a distraction.

You’ll be wondering what they are doing and if they are getting into things they shouldn’t be. Your attention needs to be firmly on the road ahead.

Being restrained, your puppy can’t get stuck in your footwell, obstructing the brakes or gas pedal. He or she can’t chew through wiring under the dash or seats nor potentially climb up onto the dash and risking falling out the window!

That last one may have made you laugh, but you’d be amazed how dogs are transported!

Ask for a Helper

If you are able, ask someone to go with you to collect your puppy.

That way, travelling home, they can sit by the puppy and keep an eye on it. Your attention can be on the road. Or alternatively, swap places, let your helper drive, and you watch the puppy!

The puppy watcher’s job will be watching for tell-tale signals if your pup needs the toilet (pacing, circling, and whining) and be on the look-out for any travel sickness.

Some puppies may become stressed when being taken to their new home; everything has just changed in an instant, so being close to a human can be comforting!

Plan Your Route

Be prepared. Look at your route home and plan regular stops if it is long distance. This allows you to let your puppy out to the toilet and gives you a break from driving too!

Look for stops which are generally quieter so the pup won’t be as overwhelmed. Always keep your new friend on a leash, just in case he or she does get spooked.

It’s a big day for your puppy! It’s best to offer water when you have stopped too, so remember to take a bowl! Giving food isn’t a great idea as you risk travel sickness, so giving food is probably best when you get home.

Unless of course you have a long journey. If that’s the case, plan an extra-long stop if you are going to offer food.

Watch for Signs of Stress

Your puppy may or may not have been in a car before, so he or she could become incredibly stressed. If you are unsure how your puppy will cope in the car, plan to restrain several ways. Have a crate as an option, but also a seatbelt restraint might be even better.

This is where your helper will be a saving grace. If your puppy has never been in a crate before, they may totally freak out.

Today is not the day to do crate-training. Instead, opt for the seatbelt restraint. This way, they can sit by whomever is the puppy watcher.

Chances are, your new best friend will end up sitting or sleeping on your lap, so be prepared.

If this keeps the little dog’s stress levels down for the journey home, you can tackle other travel restraints another day. Once you have introduced crate training at home, it’ll be much easier to introduce in the car.


The day you collect your puppy is a big day, for you and your new best friend.

Your stress levels will likely be high because you’ll be worrying about getting everything organized and ready for the little ball of joy. But your pup’s stress level will also be high because he or she will be leaving his Mom and siblings not just for the first time but forever.

The aim is to make it as stress-free as possible. Most puppies cope incredibly well, but plan ahead, be prepared and have alternatives.

A helper will also make the journey a lot easier, for everyone.

John Woods is a pet parent to a yellow lab and is the senior editor for All Things Dogs.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Photo attribution: Jacob Good licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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