Best Way To Travel With a Dog in a Car – 7 Tips

Are you planning to take your Bulldog on a road trip? Before you get all excited, you should know that canines need intensive preparation before going for long car rides. If not, your Bulldog will suffer from motion sickness and other discomforts. Knowing the best way to travel with a dog in a car is important for a smooth-sailing trip.

In this post, I will discuss how car rides affect dogs and what you can do to keep your Bulldog comfy during the ride.

Are car rides bad for Bulldogs?

Car rides aren’t always dangerous for canines. As long as you observe proper caution, your Bulldog will reach the destination safely. For this to be possible, you need to understand the risk car rides entail for your pet:

Motion sickness is real even for dogs.

best way to travel with a dog in a car

Just about any breed can suffer from motion sickness while riding a car. Puppies are more prone to this, as well as dogs that are yet to experience riding cars for the first time.

Similar to how humans experience motion sickness, Bulldogs can have an upset stomach and a woozy feeling. This happens because the body’s sensory messages get mixed up during car rides.

Motion sickness occurs because the dog’s body can’t process the differences in the messages its sensory organs perceive.

For example, your dog’s eyes see the surroundings as the car moves. However, its muscles can’t feel the movement. Since the body can’t reconcile such unusual perceptions, it will go haywire, thus motion sickness.

The following are signs that your Bulldog is experiencing motion sickness inside the car:

  • Whining
  • Excessive yawning
  • Uneasiness
  • Licking or smacking lips often
  • Excessive drooling

Aside from that, motion sickness can stress your Bulldog further. This will make the situation worse, which could be life-threatening for the animal during excruciatingly long drives.

Dog anxiety can occur.

Bulldogs are prone to anxiety, which can be worsened by the unfamiliar feeling of riding a car for the first time. This also happens when your dog associated car rides with a negative experience.

Canine anxiety will kick in if your Bulldog feels trapped inside the car. When there’s nothing to distract your Bulldog, it will start to feel anxious. In no time, you’ll have a banshee of a dog giving you a howling serenade.

Best way to travel with a dog in a car

On the day of the trip, you must have all the essentials ready. You should also keep the following in mind to ensure that your Bulldog is safe and comfy on the road:

✔️Get your dog checked by the vet

Before the trip, it’s important to get your Bulldog checked by the veterinarian. This way, the vet can detect any health problems, which may indicate that your pet isn’t in the best condition for car rides.

During the vet visit, you can also ask for tips that will help your dog during the trip. In case the veterinarian raises concerns over your Bulldog’s health, you must take it seriously.

Your pet’s health matters above any car drive. It’s best to ensure that your dog is in good condition before proceeding with the trip.

If your puppy is yet to be vaccinated and microchipped, you should wait for it to be finished first. This is especially true if you’re planning to take your Bulldog on vacation.

✔️No riding shotgun!

If the vet gave your Bulldog the green light to go for a long car trip, you should never position the pooch on the front seat. The front seat of a car doesn’t offer much protection for canines. If a collision or crash happens, your doggo would be seriously injured or even dead.

At the backseat, there’s some sort of a buffer for your Bulldog. In case a collision or crash occurs, the front seat will cushion the blow instead of the dog flying directly into the windshield. Still, your Bulldog should be tethered to the seat or seatbelt system while wearing a harness.

✔️Keep your dog in a crate.

If you’re worried about the safety of your Bulldog, a crate is the best solution. This will keep your pet in an enclosed space where it will feel safer and more relaxed. In case of a high-impact accident, your doggo won’t go flying inside the car.

Dog crates can be placed on the trunk of the car. Tethering it on the back seat is also a good idea if your pet is still a puppy, so you can see and check on your dog while driving.

Make sure that the crate is large enough for your Bulldog to lie down, turn around, and stand. And knowing Bulldogs, you should invest in a durable crate that they can’t chew or damage right away.

For my Bulldogs, I prefer a crate with a window where canines can peek. This allows the pooch to see their owners, which helps reduce anxiety. It will also let you pet and feed your doggo along the way.

✔️Or use a doggy car seat.

If your Bulldog doesn’t feel comfortable inside a crate, you can opt for a doggy car seat instead. This has a bucket design where your pet will sit inside. It also has a leash that you need to connect to a harness.

Remember that you should never connect a dog car seat tether into a collar. If your Bulldog accidentally falls off the seat, it will be strangled to death. So instead, use a harness at all times. Besides, Bulldogs are flat-nosed canines who aren’t supposed to wear collars as a form of restraint.

As with choosing a crate, you should always pick the right size for your Bulldog. The car seat should have enough space for your pooch to lie down and move around.

In my experience, Bulldogs are more relaxed on car seats with a deeper design. This allows them to burrow and have a sense of security during long car rides.

✔️Pack a doggy travel kit

Aside from prepping your dog, you should also be ready for potential situations on the road. This is why you should have a doggy travel kit that contains food, treats, doggy diaper, poop bags, blankets, and so on. You should also print the latest photo of your Bulldog just in case the pooch got lost, and you have to find him.

It’s best to keep all these items in a bag, much like a baby bag, to make things simple. This will also save you from having to dig through the car to find what your dog needs.

✔️Keep the windows shut.

Sure, it looks fun seeing dogs with their lips and ears flapping in the air as they stick their heads out of the car. But in reality, this is actually a dangerous thing to do.

First, the wind can dry your dog’s eyes and even cause respiratory irritation. You’re literally endangering your Bulldog’s life by letting it put its head out of the window.

Also, if your Bulldog has car anxiety, opening the window will add to the stress. The loud sounds outdoors would cause more confusion, which is something you need to avoid.

✔️Bring your dog’s favorite toys.

Another way to keep your Bulldog comfy while traveling in a car is by bringing its favorite toy. Like a stuffed animal to a child, your dog’s favorite toy will provide a sense of comfort.

If your pooch has separation anxiety, you can line its crate or car seat with one of your used shirts. Your scent will be a reassuring factor to your Bulldog that you’re around.

How to prepare your Bulldog for car rides

Even before your scheduled trip, it’s important to prepare your Bulldog. This will help prevent problems like anxiety or motion sickness. Here are some tips you can try:

✔️Start with short trips.

To desensitize your Bulldog to car rides, you must bring it to short drives around the neighborhood. You should do this a few weeks before your trip. This will give you enough time to observe your Bulldog so you can prepare further.

For your Bulldog’s first car ride, you must keep it short and slow. If you notice your dog being uneasy, end the car ride and restart on another day.

During these short trips, you should shower your Bulldog with rewards. Still, you should go easy with the treats, as feeding too much may increase the likelihood of vomiting in the car.

✔️Make your Bulldog love the car.

Another thing you need to do is help your dog associate your car with a positive experience. This is possible through rewards and proper introduction.

If your Bulldog is on the verge of motion sickness, you should stop the car and let the pooch recover first. This will prevent your pet from resenting car rides totally.

You want to make sure that your Bulldog really wants to go on a ride. If your pet looks nervous, it may need more time to adjust. As much as possible, never force or shove your dog into the car.

It will help to play with your dog inside the car while it’s not running. This will help condition your dog for the new environment.

In the event that your dog doesn’t want to ride cars, it’s best to hire a pet sitter while you’re away.

✔️Shop for the essentials

Lastly, make sure that you shop for essentials. This includes treats, blankets, car seat cover, dog car seat, and so on. While Bulldogs aren’t long-haired canines, they can make a drooly mess inside your vehicle. It’s important to get car seat covers to save yourself from the hassle of cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where should a dog sit in the car?

A: Dogs should always sit at the back, complete with a dedicated pet car seat and leash. This will keep the animal safe on the road, especially when accidents occur. You should never let an animal roam freely inside the car, whether it’s a small Shih Tzu or a rowdy Bulldog. Doing so will increase the risk of accidents, which is dangerous for all passengers.

Q: How long can dogs be driven in a car?

A: Each dog has varying tolerance over car rides. But to be safe, you should take pit stops every two to four hours to let your dog go potty and eat. The younger your Bulldog is, the shorter it should be inside the crate. Besides, pit stops will also let you stretch and take a break from the road.

Q: At what temperature is it safe to leave a dog in the car?

A: It’s not advisable to leave your dog inside a car unsupervised. To be safe, you should never leave your pet inside the vehicle if it’s freezing and if it’s sunny. If you feel warm inside the car with the AC off, it will be much hotter for your dog.

Q: Do dogs need to be restrained inside the car?

A: Whether it’s a Bulldog or another breed, it’s important to restrain the dog inside the car while traveling. This is to keep the pooch safe while preventing the dog from distracting the driver. Local policies have been placed to take pet owners accountable whenever they are transporting their pets on land.

Q: Can dogs travel on the footwell of a car?

A: Right now, no law is prohibiting you from transporting your dog on the footwell of a vehicle. However, it may not be safe for your pet unless it’s inside a durable crate. If your dog doesn’t like being contained in a crate, you should place it in a doggy car seat with a tethered harness.


The best way to travel with a dog in a car depends on every canine. As the pet owner, it’s your job to make sure that the pooch is safe and comfortable. You should consult the vet and give your dog the time to adjust before the big day. This way, you and your pooch will be saved from the hassle of motion sickness and anxiety.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!