Tips for Bringing Puppy Home in Car

So excited to hear you committed to bringing a puppy home. One of the first tasks you’ll need to tackle is preparing a safe vehicle to make the journey memorable but uneventful.

It can be overwhelming for a puppy to leave its litter for the first time. Preparing your vehicle for the journey takes planning.

bringing puppy home in car
Tips for Bringing Puppy Home in Car

Here’s what you should know for bringing a puppy home in the car.

Preparing the Car for Bringing the Puppy Home

There are many things to consider for the arrival of a new puppy. Make sure you and your home are ready. However, the car is likely your puppy’s first introduction to traveling.

owner cleans car for safety
The owner cleans the car before getting puppy to travel.

Make sure you remove any leftover food or candy wrappers, discarded air fresheners, and any small items like coins, plastic lids, uneaten food, or trash that the puppy might chew or swallow while you drive.

Before you leave, putting a protective seat cover or old blanket on the car seat is excellent in case your puppy has a nervous or unplanned pit stop.


  • A travel crate/pet carrier.
  • A car harness.
  • An old towel or blanket.
  • Water and food (depending on the length of the journey).
  • Someone to travel with the puppy in the backseat for comfort.
  • A leash and collar.
  • Disposable wiping cloths.
  • Poop bags.
  • A file folder or envelope for breeder’s documents.
  • A play or chew toy.
  • A notepad and questions for the puppy’s breeder.

Preparing You and the Puppy to Leave the Litter

Bringing a puppy home is exciting and a bit daunting. As a pup parent, you’ll become the surrogate. It’s essential to make sure the puppy is comfortable with you before you go.

Australian Shepherd and owner
The owner cuddles with her Australian Shepherd puppy.

Before you leave the breeder, gather all the important documents regarding the breeder, the dog’s lineage, and health and vaccination schedule.

Ask the breeder:

  • About the regular feeding schedule (type & brand of food).
  • Food prep like softening kibble with water.
  • Tips about potty training & timing.
  • Any habits the puppy might have, like chewing.
  • If the puppy dislikes being handled a certain way.

Along the Journey in the Car

It’s best if a family member or friend can make this journey with you. Having someone in the backseat to keep the puppy comfortable will make driving easier without worrying about the road and a roaming puppy.

kids with a Siberian Husky puppy
The kids with a Siberian Husky puppy rides a car on the way home after an adoption process.

A great way to introduce a puppy to your car is by enticing them to get in on their own with a treat. Rewarding them for their bravery makes the experience enjoyable.

As you travel, the puppy might whimper or bark. This behavior is normal, but you must resist overcompensating. Stay calm.

A puppy might also feel safer on the floor of your car. That enclosed space is more like a den. 

If the puppy is comfortable being held by the passenger, that’s okay. The driver shouldn’t have a puppy on their lap. It’s not safe for the driver, the puppy, or other drivers.

Some countries have road rules that insist your dog is suitably restrained.

Depending on how long the journey from the breeder is, you should make a rest stop. The puppy’s bladder hasn’t fully developed. It’s also nervous about the trip.

Avoid stopping at popular rest stops for longer journeys if the puppy isn’t fully vaccinated. While everyone and their dog will want to meet your cute pup, and it’s essential for socialization skills, before a puppy is fully vaccinated, those introductions can be harmful. 

Choose a safe area for the puppy to relieve itself. This might take a bit of sniffing, wandering, and circling until your puppy feels comfortable. Reward it for going pee or poop and reinforce the action with command words like pee and poo.

How Many Pit-Stops When Bringing a Puppy Home?

Before getting into the car, encourage the puppy to void its bladder. A two-month-old puppy (typical age breeders release puppies) can hold its bladder for about two hours. However, you don’t want the puppy to strain its developing organs.

It’s wise to allow a pee break when the bladder is one-third to half full. 

Tip: A puppy can hold off urinating for about an hour for every month of its age. Hence, a two-month-old puppy can go without urinating for about two hours under normal conditions, but it’s best to pull over every 40 minutes to an hour.

List of Accessories for Bringing Puppy Home in the Car

Accessorizing your car for the journey home isn’t an added expense. Many of the items you’ll use on this trip will be lifetime tools you can use for your pup as it matures.

Hammocks or Bed Seat Covers 

Available in adjustable sizes and materials, car hammocks and car seat covers are a great way to transport your pet and keep it safe.

car seat cover to prevent dog slips
Car seat cover helps to prevent dog slips.

Although these protective covers protect your car seats from getting dirty or scratched, they protect your dog. These hammock-like car seat savers create a den space with walls. The walls help to keep a dog confined and prevent the puppy from escaping and climbing to the front to distract the driver.

There are literally hundreds of models available on the market. 

Dog Crates or Carrier Kennels

Introducing a puppy early to carrier kennels or crates is a great idea. Kennels and crates make it easier to eventually transport your dog to your favorite holiday destination or when visiting family and friends.

Maltese inside dog crate
Maltese inside dog crate getting ready for a travel.

Additionally, especially for smaller dogs, these carriers are a perfect way to bring your puppy to the vet for checkups and vaccinations, especially for smaller dogs.

Food and Water Bowls

If you are short on space, collapsible water and food bowls are great accessories for traveling with your dog to parks, mountains, or holiday destinations.

puppy eats excess yogurt
A puppy eats excess yogurt.

However, ordinary bowls, like stainless steel dishes or ceramic bowls, work just as well. If your trip from the breeder is long, provide food and water. While the puppy might refuse to eat, increased panting from nervousness requires giving water to prevent dehydration.

It’s also a great idea to get a sample of dog food from the breeder. If you need to wean your dog off one type of dog food, slowly introduce the new food to avoid upsetting the pup’s stomach.

Old Towel and Old Blanket

An old towel and blanket might make the dog more comfortable on a slippery car seat. Most puppy parents also find them helpful in wiping dirty feet after a pit stop. Also, the towel and blanket might soak up accidental pee along the journey.

Golden Retriever puppy smiles
The Golden Retriever puppy smiles while sitting on a blanket.

A Reminder from the Puppy’s Home

Allowing the puppy to bring a toy or old blanket from its first litter bed is a great way to make them comfortable about the journey. Remember that puppies and dogs strongly connect to their siblings and parent through scent. 

Beagle puppy with a toy
A Beagle puppy plays with his toy on his bed.

If your breeder doesn’t have any extra blankets or toys, ask if you can run the toy or blanket along its siblings or mother to pick up their scent. It might just do the trick to make your puppy more comfortable. 

Collar, Leash, or Harness

A puppy might think a collar and leash are toys and opt to chew on them, but having the correct tools to secure them is vital to keep them safe. 

Cavapoochon puppy
9-week old Cavapoochon puppy!

Harnesses are a great alternative to the traditional lead and collar. If you’re using a harness or collar with a dog seatbelt, make sure you don’t mistakenly fasten the seatbelt to the collar. This may cause choking.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Calming a Puppy on Its First Car Ride

A puppy might find going for its first car ride stressful. A great way to make the ride a success is to play with the puppy for 15-30 minutes before departing to make it tired. This new adventure for the puppy is a big event as it’s leaving its family to join yours.

an owner kisses a tiny Basenji puppy
Kissing an incredibly small Basenji puppy!

Puppies might also salivate and pant from motion sickness. If the condition persists in consequent rides, consult your vet.

Conclusion –Tips for Bringing a Puppy Home in the Car

Being prepared is the best advice to make bringing a puppy home in the car an enjoyable experience for you and the puppy.

Providing your puppy with a secure environment is your job going forward. Now you can relax and enjoy your first night with your new puppy.