Travelling safely with your dog in your car

  • Pets
  • Belgium
  • 5 min read
Travelling safely with your dog in your car

Planning on taking your dog with you on a big road trip? Find out how to make your pet calm, safe and comfortable in your vehicle.

One of the great things about LeShuttle is that dogs can travel with you the whole way, wherever you are going in France or further afield. We make dogs feel welcome, and have won awards for our pet travel services.

If you are taking your pet across the Channel in a car for the first time, there are a few things you need to know before you leave.

Why travelling with your dog requires extra safety precautions

Car safety for dogs is very important: it is a crime to drive without properly restraining your canine friend. Driving in France can have its challenges if you’ve never done it before; driving with a dog on the loose in the back will get you stopped by the police, a fine and penalty points – if not worse.

If you are preparing for your first big road trip with your dog, build up to it with a series of smaller journeys. By the time you go away your pooch should be a happy passenger.

A large dog perching out of its cage in the boot of a stationary car, in a mountainous landscapeFind the best way for your dog to travel

Preparing for your trip

Assessing your dog’s readiness for travel

If you are going on a long road trip, make sure your dog is used to travelling in a car. If this is their first time it could be a difficult experience. Your dog might find it hard to be restrained for so long in a confined space and an unfamiliar environment. They should be in good health too, and able to cope with the potential disorientation of being in a car.

Don’t be tempted to take puppies, as they are too young to be comfortable in a vehicle for a long time. If your dog finds being in a car stressful, we do not recommend sedating a dog for travel. Sedation could have long term effects on your dog’s health. A holiday isn’t worth that, is it?

Planning the route and rest stops

Is there plenty of opportunity for your dog to stretch their legs during the journey? Most service stations will have some green space for walkies, and our terminals at Folkestone and Calais have pet exercise areas where your furry friend can burn off some energy while you wait to board Le Shuttle. Why not break up your journey with an overnight stop in a city like Rouen or Amiens?

Packing the essentials for your dog

Your dog will need their favourite blanket or bed, leads, spare collar, harness, treats, toys, any medication they take and of course their food and water bowls. Pack enough food and water for the journey. Don’t forget poo bags! 

Reward them with a treat if they are being well behaved.

Safety measures in the car

Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe while travelling.

Securing your dog in the car

It is an offence under the Highway Code for dogs to be unrestrained when travelling in cars. It is also dangerous and can lead to accidents. Dogs need seat belts at the very least – these attach to your car’s standard seat belts and should be attached so your dog is comfortable but held close to the car seat. Bigger dogs might be best off in the boot, with a dog guard behind the back seats. They can move around in the boot but won’t be able to distract the driver.  

Using safety harnesses or carriers

Jack Russell dog standing on the back seat of a car with a seat belt safety harness onHarnesses should keep your dog restrained but comfortable 

Harnesses offer a more secure and comfortable way of restraining your dog in the back seat, and can easily be attached to leads so can stay on for your entire journey. Smaller dogs might prefer to travel in their carry cases or a cage – it can feel like a safe space. This still needs securing with a seat belt. Some dog car carriers incorporate a bed with an integrated restraint – the ultimate in luxury!

Tips for safe car ventilation

If you have air con, put it on! If you haven’t, winding down the back seat windows a little will give your dog some much needed fresh air if it’s a hot day. Adjust the fans so the back seats get more cool air. Take a cooling mat if you have one. We do not recommend leaving your dog in a car on its own for any period in the summer months. Even if it’s only a moderately warm day outside, cars can quickly heat up and have potentially fatal consequences for your dog.  

During your journey

It is important dogs are as calm as possible while they’re travelling.

Checking on your dog during breaks

When you stop for a break from driving, take your dog for a walk and a toilet break. Look for any signs that they might be anxious or sick.

Keeping your dog hydrated and fed

A corgi dog drinking from a water bowl near a parked carKeep them topped up with water on the way! 

Don’t let your dog go too long without having a drink. Obviously you can’t have a bowl sloshing about in the back seat, but some carriers have water bottles attached to the door. Non-spill water bowls are also a great idea. If someone is in the back seat, they should be able to give your dog regular drinks. Not too much though – dogs need to hold it in like everyone else sometimes!

Recognising signs of motion sickness and how to alleviate it

Dogs get motion sickness like children do. The sudden braking, twists and turns and general motion of a car can be disorientating and induce nausea, especially in younger dogs. If your dog is panting heavily, drooling or swallowing excessively, whining or licking its lips, it could mean a car sick dog.

Stop the car and let your dog out of the vehicle for a while. Give them some water and go for a short walk. It is best not to feed your dog immediately before a long car journey, especially if you are concerned about their potential for getting car sick.

The benefits of pet travel with LeShuttle

Dog car travel can be a fun experience for the whole family, and Le Shuttle is the paw-fect way to go. Here’s why:

  • You can stay together for the entire length of your trip
  • We have dedicated pet exercise areas at both our Folkestone and Calais terminals
  • Crossings are only 35 minutes long

Two dogs sat together in the back of a car looking towards a range of mountainsTake your dogs with you on your next adventure

Book your next trip with LeShuttle

From dog-friendly villas to secluded beaches, France is a great doggy destination. Check in at the pet reception and enjoy your holiday!  

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