A 9-Step Guide on How to Road Trip with a Dog

Travelling long distances with a hyperactive furry family member can be exhausting – here’s how to road trip with a dog and make it manageable.

It is often wonderful to bring along your precious pooch, but having a dog that is overly active is not exactly easy, in fact, it can be quite the challenge if we’re being honest. But there are ways for you to help your dog adjust to being in the car for long periods of time to make it a happy journey for you and your canine pal.

We have put together a guide packed with tips on how to get your dog to calm down in the car.

Discover: The Best Pet Friendly Accommodation in South Africa

9 Tips for How to Road Trip with a Dog

Start with short drives

Before you start on your long drive, start with shorter ones. Take your doggie with you to the shops, drive to the park and go for a walk – make your dog your new travel companion whenever you can to get him used to being in the car.

This also helps you to gauge his behaviour in the car and see what you might need for a longer trip to keep him busy or occupied. Just make sure you NEVER leave your dog unattended in a hot car.

Prepare yourself

The more equipped and organised you are, the better your trip will be. It is a good idea to have a list of what to pack so that you don’t forget anything important. Bring along your dog’s food, his favourite toy, blanket and a water bowl.

Don’t forget to bring treats too to use as a reward for good behaviour. Also, bring some plastic bags and a pooper scooper as well as any medications your precious pooch might be on.

Don’t forget to stop for a break

Make sure you know your trip and map it out ahead of time and make note of any pet-friendly stops along your route. There are some great rest stops that have a small, fenced area for your dog to play in and burn off some energy – make use of these! There are even some dog-friendly places to eat at.


Let your dog breathe in some fresh air every now and then, especially if it is hot and stuffy in your car. Remember to not wind the window completely down in case young Bruno decides to jump out – you never know! Crack a window or put on the aircon and make sure your dog isn’t sitting in the sun the entire journey. Make sure your doggie is comfy.

A doggie harness

Some dogs get extremely uncomfortable or anxious in the car, if this is the case then there are some great doggie harnesses that connect to the seatbelts of your car. You can also get a doggie crate for your precious pooch to travel in.

Related: 10 Must-Haves for Travelling with Your Dog


Bring something fun for your dog to do. There are great chew toys that have a treat inside and these can keep your dog occupied for hours. There are also great calming playlists you can download specifically designed to keep your dog calm.

Don’t feed him or her too much

If your dog is prone to getting sick in the car, then do not feed him or her a big meal before your journey. Rather give your doggie something little and save the bigger meals for when you get to your destination. Make sure you give your dog a little something to eat at every stop to make up for the big meal missed.


If your little (or big) doggie is very hyper, vocal or anxious in the car, then chat to your vet about any medication you can give him or her to help them to settle down a little bit.

Pet insurance

This one is more for your peace of mind, the thing is, especially if you are going to unknown places, knowing that your dog is covered for any medical issues and emergencies can be a great help!

If your dog gets in a fight with another dog, hurts himself or gets a little sick, then pet insurance (we especially recommend Oneplan Pet Insurance because they pay you BEFORE you see any vet of your choice) helps cover the costs of vet bills and even surgery.

Read next: Choosing the Pawfect Pet Insurance Policy for Your Fur Baby

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Petinsurance.co.za Team