ROAD TRIPPING WITH A PUPPY- getting home safely

Bringing your puppy home; here are some suggestions for a smooth road trip with a puppy.

Stallone getting used to car travel at Daintree Kennels.


  1. Exercise pen- a metal playpen- the MOST important item, read below.
  2. Appropriately sized carrier (recommend a cat carrier or even better a VariKennel or Sky Kennel 100/200 (small or medium.)
  3. Water and water dish.
  4. Soft treats, small amount of thawed raw food in leak proof container, food dish.
  5. Poop bags, cleanup materials (baby wipes, extra water, disposable cleaning wipes, plastic bags for soiled bedding, extra bedding x 3 (old/thrift store towels are great for this.)
  6. Leash and collar, for safety. Consider a tag with your phone number on it in the unfortunate event of the pup getting away from you accidentally.
  7. Chew toy, stuffed animal to snuggle up with, raw meaty bone.
  8. Optional: Bach Flower Rescue Remedy for pets (health food store) in case of extreme stress or any amount of nausea.


  • Relying on a collar and leash is not the best idea at a young age- pup is going to need time to become better acquainted with the collar. Getting him to eliminate on a leash with complete strangers (you), in a strange and possibly noisy rest stop environment will be at the least challenging and at most an invitation to serious tantrum and possibly irreversible collar and leash aversion. It would be at the top of my DON'T list. Solution- the x pen. It is familiar and takes no trouble to set up and take down. This will be a better and more comfortable situation for him/her. 
  • Exit the vehicle without the puppy while you set up and clip the two ends of the exercise pen together to form an enclosure. Choose a shady, grassy area (patch of dirt or snow also work) off the highway, preferably on a side street or at a rest stop. Do not try to do this with the puppy in your arms. Go back to the vehicle to get the puppy once this is set up.
  • Next get the puppy from the vehicle.  Put the puppy in the x-pen to do his or her business. Encourage happily using your chosen command (Go peepee, Do your business, etc.) Praise when you have success. Supervise the entire time that your puppy is in the pen. You may want to water and feed the puppy in the pen. When she is finished, put the puppy back into the vehicle and then return to clean up any doodoo and retrieve your pen/dish etc.
  • Stop every 3 hours if possible or if puppy becomes vocal in the travel carrier.
  • Always travel with a bottle of water and a dish- puppy's ride home is no exception. Puppies and dogs pant when they are stressed or hot and will need to drink during your trip. In summer, some ice or a FROZEN door cup or hanging flat-sided bucket of water might be a good idea.  Door cups are sometimes sold with kennels to put food and water in, or you can buy them separately from big box pet stores.  The ice will slowly melt and the dog can lick at it for hydration.  Much less messy than dishes or buckets, and the dog won't over hydrate, causing him/her to have a full bladder.  
  • Food and treats should be kept to a minimum.  You may want to stuff your face with beef jerky, cheezies and Dr Pepper (well that's what I do anyway...) but your dog doesn't need to eat very much during travel. Nausea could result from a long car ride coupled with the mild stress of leaving his/her first home, so consider this when choosing how much to feed. A few soft treats or a light meal of 1-2 tablespoons every 4-5 hours is a good guideline. Reminder: young pups normally have a poop about 5-15 minutes after a meal so you will want to make sure that happens before getting back on the road. Don't stress about mealtimes during your trip.  If you are stopping overnight, feed a bigger meal when you get there.  
  • Up to you, but if you feel comfortable with it, the puppy can be held and cuddled during the trip to ease his/her anxiety.  Certainly he's safer in a crate but you alone can weigh the pros and cons and combine crate time with cuddle time.  Cuddle time should only be offered if the pup is cooperative and tired, not if he or she wants to explore the vehicle and climb under the seats.  That is UNSAFE- practice common sense.
  • Puppies have minimal bladder and bowel control at 8/9 weeks. This will come with maturity. Ensure s/he gets ample potty breaks to avoid an accident. and line your car carrier like this:
    • bottom: layer a stack of newspaper (1/4 inch for absorbency- puppy pads and plastic bags may get chewed up.)
    • top layer: an old towel or blanket, or something you don't mind getting wet/dirty.  Now is not the time to be using the fancy new blankie you have bought for your dog.
    • pack extras of both, as well as a plastic bag or two to pitch dirty bedding and garbage in.
  • A raw meaty bone or dried bully stick, etc can be offered as a pass-time in his or her crate. A good sized stuffed animal may act as a surrogate sibling for comfort.
  • Be aware of the temperature in the vehicle and especially whether hot or cold air is blowing directly onto the pup or into the carrier. Either would make the pup very uncomfortable over time.
  • Finally, try not to stress. Just use common sense and relax. You're a new 'parent' now and your little buddy needs you for everything.


I promise, for 99% of new dog owners it will all fall into place easily. You've got this.

Once at home, or at your destination if travelling over more than one day:

Up until now, the 9 week old puppies are sleeping through the night at Daintree with the occasional exception of stirring to potty, have a drink of water, or play/chew a bit in the ex pen habitat. They are in familiar territory, siblings and mother close by, it is dark and quiet with no unusual sights or sounds. Now that everything has changed, it could take several nights to settle in their new environment.  I don't recommend sleeping in a motel/hotel room with a pup on his or her first night with you unless you have to, and remember to offer earplugs for all your neighbours.  These can rough times for the puppy when it's dark and they get nervous or scared and can be quite noisy for you. For best method to ensure she drifts off to sleep, play with her, get her nice and tired and then offer a potty break. In a dark, quiet environment she will eventually settle and she will sleep.