How to safely bring your puppy home even if it's a long car journey


The journey to collect your new puppy should an exciting one, but unless you are prepared the journey home once you have picked them up can be stressful. For both you and importantly your puppy.

Don’t let that first trip home set you up for weeks or months of problems with a pup that is unhappy riding in the car. Read to hear how to safely bring your puppy home even if it’s a long car journey.


Springer Spaniel puppy in car on lap


Plan the journey

Agree on a time for the collection that works with your pup’s routine. Consider the time you will have once you are home. Does an afternoon pick up give you enough time to travel, and allow your pup time to explore their new environment once you are home?

They will be spending their first night in an unfamiliar place. It is a good idea not to arrive home too close to bedtime. Who will be home when you arrive? If you have children do you want your pup to arrive home to a full house? Maybe you would prefer the puppy to come home and have the opportunity to explore a little and then the children come home from school.


Speak to the breeder about the best time to collect. Ask your breeder to make sure your puppy has not eaten before travelling as a full tummy could make them nauseous. Most puppies will have already had a trip out to the vets, and depending on your breeder they may have taken them out in the car for them to get used to the sensation of traveling.


Our puppy Harvey had never been out in the car before our pickup date. The vet had visited them at the breeder’s house for the puppy checks and microchipping.

A good question to ask your breeder is…


“ will my puppy have travelled in a car before I come to collect them? “


Plan who is going to be travelling with you to collect the puppy. It might seem like a great idea to take the whole family but a car full of over-excited kids a new puppy might not be the best idea.



What to take

How do I safely bring a puppy home, is a question that crops up in many Facebook puppy forums

Our breeder recommended that for the first trip home Harvey travelled on my lap. However, with a 2.5-hour journey most of it on motorways I wanted to make sure I also had somewhere secure for him. If we had to leave the car, due to accident, incident or breakdown I wanted somewhere safe for him to be


‘ Can you imagine being stood on a hard shoulder waiting to have a tyre changed with a puppy in your arms?!!’

We opted for a soft zip-up crate that strapped safely into the car with the seat belts. An airline type crate is great providing you have the option to put your hand inside easily to comfort your puppy.




Towels/ Blanket/ scent of the litter

Vet bed is excellent, we have it dotted around our house. It washes well and dries quickly. A word of warning. Vet bed is designed to wick away any moisture to the underside of the mat, keeping the top dry. So, whilst it is good in a crate in the car do not rely on it for keeping seats dry from any puppy accidents on the way home.


On our trip, I took items to snuggle into. Our breeder had promised us a piece of vet bed (see more on that later!) I also took a puppy pad to place in the footwell just in case the need arose. Puppies are quite predictable poo’ers. Generally, they eat, they poo they sleep.

We had planned our trip time and Harvey had not eaten directly before travelling. Thankfully we had no sickness or, anything from the other end!



Something to snuggle into

Consider taking a soft toy- especially if your pup is travelling in a crate. There are two reasons


  1. Extra warmth and something to snuggle into - I used the Snuggle Pup as you can place a heating pad inside the toy, there is also a heartbeat to simulate pup being close to a sibling or Mum.

  2. A toy will also reduce the available space in the crate. Puppies like to be bundled in together. A crate that is too big can seem scary - the snugger the area the happier they seem.



Water/ food


If you are picking your puppy up close to home, you probably don't need to consider this. But anything over an hour and I think you should. Puppies eat at regular intervals. As I mentioned earlier you would not want a pup travelling with a full tum. But, what happens if there are delays and hold-ups and your expected 2.5-hour journey turns into 4 hours! (which ours was)

It is always best to plan for all eventualities.



Clean ups


Puppy grooming wipes are always a good idea to have in the car for an emergency clean up. Not just the 1st journey home but any trip out. Perfect for either end, everything in the middle, and four paws.

You might think poo bags won't be needed until you get home – think again.

"Poo does not make a great travel companion "

If your pup does need to go make sure you have something to dispose of it in.





Moving forward


Obviously, it is not practical, safe, or legal for your puppy to travel on your lap Car safety rules. There will also be times when your puppy will be travelling in the car with just the driver so it is important that they get used to travelling calmly and independently.



A cautionary tale - and my advice

The first time our puppy went in a car was on his journey home with us. Imagine how scary it must have been?. Taken from his Mum, siblings, the house, people, smells, and little world he knew.

The breeder carried him to our car and handed him to me once I was strapped in.

We were given a very ‘stinky’ piece of vet bed that had been used by his mum and 10 siblings ( I remember the long journey home with this on my lap thinking ‘ Is this what my house will smell like now we have a dog’)


He cried loudly!

He scrambled to get down.

He tried to climb up over my shoulder

Did I say he cried loudly….?


It was horrendous, and I started to wonder what had we done planning such a long car journey. Thankfully within 30 mins, he had settled on my lap. Nestled in amongst the blanket I had taken with us and the VERY stinky piece of vet bed.


My advice..

Set your puppy us for success - Ask your breeder to take your puppy out for some short trips in the car so that they are used to the sensation of moving in a vehicle



Our reluctant traveller


When we eventually arrived home we commented on how good he had been.

Put it this way we naively thought we had nailed it after that first trip – how wrong we were!


Look out for my next blog on what a nightmare our subsequent journeys were and how we worked to get Harvey comfortable travelling in the car.

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