We all know about the rules and regulations surrounding children and car seats, but have you ever thought about your puppy? Wondering about getting a puppy car carrier? Perhaps you’ve been looking at a car seat for your puppy.

Whichever travel system you decide to use, we do suggest you keep your puppy restrained, puppies are bouncy and want to be near you all of the time! This won’t change because you’re driving, so let’s keep everyone safe and look at the options to get you and your pup on the road.

In this article, we’ll be driving you forward through the uses of a puppy car carrier, how you should use a car seat for your puppy, and things to watch out for when using a puppy car carrier.

If you’d like more help with puppy car carriers, we also have a dedicated programme on puppy car travel inside the Zigzag puppy training app. If you’re not sure which one might suit your puppy or how to train them for the car and need some extra support, we also have a team of puppy coaches available to talk to you on Whatsapp, email or the good old dog n bone, whenever you need them.

corgi hanging out of parked car window
Photo by Morgane Perraud on Unsplash

7 popular puppy car carriers for safe journeys

There are a few uses for a puppy car carrier, and you don’t always have to use them in a car! The main job of a pet car carrier is to keep your puppy safe when travelling. It stops them from falling off the seat (or worse) if you slam the brakes on, or are involved in an accident.

Dog seatbelt puppy car carrier

A puppy seatbelt can be a great option and clip into your car’s existing seat belt holder. They are attached to the back of your puppy’s harness and safely restrain them. For safety reasons, we recommend you use a puppy seatbelt with a crash tested puppy car harness so that the harness won’t break or snap under pressure. Do be aware, if your puppy is a prolific chewer, they might enjoy a chew on the seatbelt!

Puppy seatbelt harness as a puppy car carrier

This puppy car carrier is a harness that can be clipped around your existing seat belt system. Puppy car harnesses are an attractive option for people who don’t want or can’t have a crate as their puppy’s travel safety system. 

Choose a crash tested car harness to make sure it holds up in the case of an accident.

Puppy booster seat car carrier

These puppy car systems are more like a car seat for your puppy. They allow your pup to get a great view out of the window, lift them up off the seat, and contain them. Generally best suited for small to medium dog breeds, but probably great for when your puppy is, well, a puppy. They come in various designs, with some being more of a box style you can use at your destination, whereas some are more of a throne like a padded bed

You’ll still need to clip your puppy in to keep them safe, don’t forget. 

Puppy hammock car carrier

This puppy car system is a hammock that fits between the front and back seats. Like other pet car carriers, it stops your puppy from wandering about too much while still giving them freedom. You can also tether your puppy with a car harness so they won’t move around so much, and the puppy hammock also protects your seats from mud and fur. These are particularly good if you have a larger breed of puppy that needs a bit more room in the back. 

Travel crate as a puppy car carrier

Travel crates can be a good choice for pet car carriers, if you have room on the back seat or a large boot. You might also want to take the crate out to use it at your destination. It’s particularly useful if your puppy has been crate trained at home, as it feels nice and cosy like their regular bed. For safety reasons, you should clip the crate into a seatbelt if on the back seat or to a secure tether if in the boot.

Crash tested crate as a puppy car carrier

This is one of the safest ways to travel and keep your puppy safe in the car and a favourite among the Zigzag puppy coaches. There are not many crash tested car crates on the market but the variocage is one of them. We know they’re probably the most expensive puppy car carrier available, but if you have multiple dogs who need to travel separately, or you want your dog in the boot of your car, then you want to be sure they’re safe in the event of a crash, don’t you?  

A dog car guard or barrier as a puppy car carrier

For many people, having their puppy in the boot behind a dog guard is how they want their puppy to travel long term in the car. Maybe they have children on the back seat, or just want the peace of mind that they’re safely in the boot. You can get many different tailgate guards which work well as puppy car carriers, so choose one that suits your set up. 

Don’t forget to get a barrier between the boot and the back seat, or your puppy might escape over the top. We like this dog safety boot fit as it has an opening door – useful for training and easy to get to your puppy if there’s ever an accident. 

black pug with a harness on looking out of red parked car window
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

How to use a car seat for a puppy

Using a car seat for a puppy can be attractive as they can sit on the passenger seat next to you, but be safely strapped into the puppy carrier. 

  • When you use a car seat for a puppy, you want to make sure your puppy is comfortable in it. Consider using out of context first as car travel can be a worrying thing for many puppies. 
  • Bring the puppy car seat into your house and sprinkle treats inside for your puppy to eat and to start building positive associations.
  • When it comes to putting your puppy and the puppy car seat in the car, first just sit in the car with your puppy in the seat, rewarding every now and again for staying in their car seat.
  • Then try doing the same thing with the engine running. Are they happy and ok? Great! Let’s get them strapped in safely with their car harness and try a little drive.
  • Do short trips with a friend or family member if possible. They can make sure your puppy is happy while you concentrate on the road. Safety first!

For a full programme of getting your puppy used to riding in the car, check out our lessons in the Zigzag puppy training app

puppy looking out of the car window
Photo by John Carlo Tubelleza on Unsplash

Things to watch out for when using a puppy car carrier

  • When using a pet car carrier, do consider whether it’s safe. There are not many crash tested pet carriers available, whether puppy travel harnesses or dog crates. 
  • Take time to get your puppy used to the pet car carrier and car travel in general. It can be frightening being in a moving vehicle when you don’t realise you’re going off to somewhere fun, and lots of puppies get travel sick. 
  • To avoid your puppy getting travel sick, it’s worth doing some training on making sure they are comfortable in the puppy car carrier and trying very short journeys. Also, don’t feed your puppy a meal before they get in the car. A full tummy is guaranteed to make them feel queasy.
  • Cars get hot quickly! The air con often doesn’t extend to the back of the car or the boot, so keep that in mind if you’re travelling on a sunny day. Always bring water with you for your puppy, and pop some sun shades up on the window, so it shields the inside from direct sunlight. 

We hope you’ve found some tips and advice in this article on how to use a puppy car carrier. While you’re here, why not have a read of Why is my puppy biting their tail? We hope you learn something new! It’s worth taking a look at the Zigzag puppy training app for lots more on everything puppy training, and we have a team of puppy coaches on hand to help you every step of the way.