Photo credit: Carmel Mooney / Pets & Service Dog TravelingMom

Photo credit: Carmel Mooney / Pets & Service Dog TravelingMom

There’s something unnerving about walking to your car in a busy parking lot, only to be scared out of your skin by a growling and barking, unrestrained dog, its teeth gleaming and drool dripping down the car door, as it suddenly appears from a neighboring car’s back seat, floorboard, or even an open pickup truck bed.

Have you ever exited your vehicle cautiously from a the passenger door, nearly bending your neck in half to avoid having your eardrums busted or getting nipped from a loose dog hanging out of an open pickup in a busy parking lot? Better a neck spasm than walking past a ferocious-looking canine.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking the dog on road trips, outings, or shopping excursions. Dogs love to accompany their owners, but neglecting proper etiquette and consideration to others as well as the dog, creates a recipe for disaster for everyone.


Traveling, road-tripping and errand-running dogs should be kept safe, under control, and with respect to others when riding in vehicles and even while parked in public places.

Photo credit: Carmel Mooney / Pets & Service Dog TravelingMom

Photo credit: Carmel Mooney / Pets & Service Dog TravelingMom

Most people are thankfully aware of the life threatening dangers associated with leaving dogs in vehicles during extreme weather, yet many people neglect basic manners and decency with regards to transporting their dogs around town and on trips.

Dogs should be both restrained and trained to transport calmly in vehicles. This can take time and patience but is well worth the effort. A well-mannered dog is more likely a pleasure to take places and will get out of the house more to enjoy life.

Exercise Restraint

While not all vehicles can accommodate a large dog crate, a dog crate can provide safety and security for many pooches in transit. A dog crate is perceived by most dogs as a den or a happy place, and offers a sense of security. Most mid sized cars can accommodate a large crate in the back seat while SUVs can store them in the far back. If you must leave your dog in the car, in the shade with the windows cracked, a crate offers a safe for your dog to rest and relax with a chew toy until you return. You will be glad your armrest, seatcovers, or groceries are intact when you return.

While driving, harnesses are a viable option for many dogs. A harness can lessen the chance of injury should a collision occur and can also keep a hyper or constantly moving dog from distracting the driver and passengers.

Photo credit: Carmel Mooney / Pets & Service Dog TravelingMom

Photo credit: Carmel Mooney / Pets & Service Dog TravelingMom

Loose dogs are never a good idea in an open pickup or camper shell. Dogs are precious cargo and should always be safely secured. Too many dogs have jumped or fallen out of open truck beds and have been killed needlessly.

Even crated, it may be best to park a few spaces away from other cars (in the shade) and allow your dog the space he/she needs as well as allowing the public some space from your confined dog. 

Keep Calm

Begin training your dog at home to remain calm in the car. Then move the training to busy parking lots with the help of a training assistant (friend or family) who will reward your dog for remaining calm and relaxed, even with passersby.

Rarely, some dogs may even require homeopathic calming remedies, compression vests, or a tranquilizer if they are especially agitated when traveling. Ask your vet.

Try to take your dog’s needs, age, size and activity level into consideration while you also consider the peace and safety of people and animals in nearby vehicles and parking spaces.

Always start small and work up to longer trips and outings as your dog gains more experience, better confidence and less anxiety.

Safe and happy tails.