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Traveling with Your Dog? Here’s How to Dog-Proof Your Car

Three dogs on the seats of three cars
Active Pets/PETZANA/PetEvo

Whether you drive to the park every day or have a once-in-a-lifetime road trip coming up, all dog owners need to take their pet for a ride at some point. But pets can be tricky to transport and may leave your vehicle scratched up and slobbery if you don’t have the right setup. Here are a few ways you can keep your car clean and secure when you’re driving your dog around.

Pick Their Ride

A doggy booster seat and a white dog in a gray pet carrier

There are many ways your dog can ride in your car. How you want yours to cruise around will depend on its size, temperament, and your personal preferences.

Crate training is regarded as the safest method of transportation and can be done with any size dog. A small crate can be placed in the middle row of seats. It is important that crates are secured to the seat so that your dog isn’t thrown around if you have to turn or brake suddenly.

Henkelion Dog Carrier

A dog carrier that's easy to carry around and perfect for travel.

A larger crate can be placed in the back of your car. If you keep your dog in the back of your car, be sure that they have access to air conditioning or airflow when it’s hot outside, and heat when it’s cold.

MidWest Homes Dog Crate

A sturdy crate that can be used in the car and at home.

Although you should avoid letting your dog sit in the front seat if possible, it may be the best option if you have a small car or small dog that can’t safely sit somewhere else. If this is the case, consider investing in a doggy car seat. These seats attach to your regular car seat and have attachments to keep your dog in place.

SWIHELP Dog Car Seat Portable Pet Booster

This car seat is perfect for smaller dogs who like to sit up front.

Cover the Seats

Two dogs and a boy sitting on a car hammock
Active Pets

Whether you have a small dog that sits in the passenger seat or a large one that needs the middle row, cover your seats before letting your dog in the car. Seat upholstery is difficult to clean but seat covers can be easily wiped down and washed. Some can even be thrown in the washing machine!

Hammocks work well for large dogs because they protect your seats and prevent your pup from falling down in between the seats. This hammock is also waterproof and nonslip, so it will keep both your car and your dog safe during rides.

Scratchproof Nonslip Hammock for Dogs

Keep the entire back seat clean.

If car rides are infrequent, a tarp or blanket will do the trick. Just make sure that your dog is safely secured to the seat and that the windows are kept closed so that there is no risk of them jumping out the window.

Protect Windows and Doors

A husky sits in a car and a window shade on a car window

Don’t be surprised to see the inside of your car windows and doors covered in nose prints and slobber after a ride. You can prevent this by buying a fabric cover that goes over the door and window frame of your car.

Car Door Protector

Keep drool and fur off the doors.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) open the windows during a drive and your dog is extra slobbery, car window shades will protect the glass from drool and snot. They will also double as protection from the sun on hot summer days.

Enovoe Car Window Shade

Keep the windows clean and protect your dog from the sun.

Focus on Safety

A white dog in a car with its owner

A properly restrained dog will keep both of you safe while driving. Unless they are extremely well-behaved, make sure your dog has a designated area of the car that does not allow them to reach you. This will make sure they don’t get excited and jump in your lap while you’re moving.

This will also keep your dog’s hair and slobber confined to your dog-proofed area. You can keep your dog in this spot by securing them in a harness and using a special leash to attach them to the seat buckle before you pull out of the driveway. They’ll have a great view out the window and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’re safe while you drive.

Dog Seat Belt Harness

Secure your dog during any ride.

Clean Regularly

Two dogs sit next to a bottle of cleaning spray and someone wipes down the inside of a car
Sunny & Honey/Armor

No matter how hard you try to keep your car clean, a certain amount of dog hair, dirt, and slobber are going to get in your vehicle. Keep things from turning into a disaster by cleaning regularly. Use a handheld vacuum to pick up dirt and hair from the floor and on your seats after each ride.

THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner

Clean up dirt and hair with ease.

You can also use car wipes to clean drool and grime on all interior surfaces of your car.

Armor All-10832 Cleaning Wipes

Clean up drool and other messes quickly.

If your dog has an accident in the car, you may need to use an enzyme cleaner to remove any stains or odors. Be sure to clean these messes quickly because you do not want the smell to bake in your car any longer than necessary.

Pet Stain & Odor Miracle - Enzyme Cleaner

Get rid of odors from urine or vomit after unhappy accidents.

Whether it’s for a summer vacation or holiday gathering, taking your dog somewhere with you is always more fun than leaving them at home. Keep your car and your pup safe with these tips and products.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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