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How to travel with your puppy on their first journey home

How you transport your puppy on their first journey is such an important thing to consider.

They are leaving their mum, siblings, and everything they know behind. So how do you make your puppy’s first journey as positive for them as possible while also keeping them safe?

Your puppy’s first journey is their first step into their life with you. We want them to be safe and as emotionally supported as possible so that their first associations with car travel are positive. Paving the way to a dog who is comfortable and confident in the car.

What is the best way to transport your puppy?

There are many options for how to set your puppy up in the car. Some people put their puppy in the boot, on the backseat, or on the front passenger seat. But what is the best way to travel with your puppy?

Ideally, you will have two people in the vehicle, one concentrating on the road and one focusing on the puppy.

It’s not unusual for a puppy to cry, vomit, or suffer from diarrhoea on their first car journey. This is a completely new experience, and they’ve just left behind everything they’ve ever known.

Choosing a crash tested dog harness, crate, or carrier is vital. It’s very often overlooked, but using anything else just isn’t going to keep your puppy or the humans in the vehicle very safe in the event of an accident.

Why is it important to have a human sat with your puppy for their first car trip?

Puppies are often sick in the car, and there is the potential for them to choke on their vomit. If you’re one person driving along the motorway with nowhere to stop, then it could be too late by the time you reach the services.

Having someone who can be totally dedicated to your puppy’s needs on the journey means that everybody is safe and well cared for if anything goes wrong.

What to bring with you when picking your puppy up from the breeder or rescue

• Crash tested harness or travel crate

• Spare blankets/bedding

• Bin liners to put any soiled bedding/blankets in

• Pet-friendly wipes to clean pup up

• Fresh water and water bowl

• Poo bags

How to choose the right travel equipment for your puppy

Puppies grow. How do you navigate the cost of safe equipment versus the growth of your pup?

There are five crash tested harnesses on the UK market, ranging from around £25 - £90. The smallest available crash tested harness is the Easy Rider car harness, which comes in extra small and costs £26.99.

Crash Tested Dog harnesses available in the UK: Sleepypod, Ruffwear, Kurgo, EzyDog, Easy Rider.

Depending on your puppy’s breed, you may struggle to find a crash tested harness which will fit. You need to be sure that your puppy cannot wriggle out of the harness for it to be effective. The last thing you want is for your puppy to escape and bolt in the event of an accident.

An alternative to a dog car harness is a crash tested pet carrier, which can be used on your rear passenger seats. This needs to be a carrier specifically designed to go on the passenger seats rather than in the boot for it to work in the way it’s intended.

Sleepypod offer a range of crash tested car carriers suitable for small puppies.

Sleepypod Air is a carrier suitable for dogs up to 18lbs. It’s not only crash tested for car travel but also great for flights! At £190, it’s not cheap, but if your pup’s not going to outgrow it, then it’s a brilliant option.

The Sleepypod Atom is cheaper at £117 but is only suitable for pets of up to 12lbs. It again doubles as a safe inflight carrier and can be used as a general carrier for your pup.

The original Sleepypod is essentially a bed, travel hub, and carrier all in one. At £197, this isn’t a cheap purchase for your puppy, but it is a great investment for pups that won’t outgrow it.

The Pet Ego Jet Setter is another crash tested soft carrier for dogs. This one is attached to your ISOFIX fittings, so it will only be functional in your vehicle as a crash tested option if you use these. At £79.95, this is the cheapest of the crash tested pet carriers.

For your first journey, a carrier or crate is likely a better choice than a harness, simply because you will have no way to be certain the harness will fit well. If your puppy can wriggle out of it and you don’t have an alternative option, then you’ll be in a bit of a pickle. And if they escape once you’ve started your journey, even worse!

Whether you are using a harness or carrier, it’s best not to put your puppy on the front seat for their first journey. If your puppy is crying, sick, or very wriggly and bouncy, you will be distracted, which will increase the chances of you having an accident.

Ultimately, if you don’t want to invest in equipment that your puppy will rapidly outgrow, then the best option is to choose a professional pet transport company to help you with your puppy’s first journey home. A good pet transport company will have a range of crash tested equipment, so they’ll have the appropriate solution for your individual dog.

Some pet transport companies will be transporting multiple dogs at one time, often crated in the back of a van. This has the potential to be quite a stressful experience for your puppy.

All of those different smells and the emotions of the various animals will all have an impact on your puppy’s experience. Imagine dogs howling, barking, or vomiting all shut in together of the back of a dark van. Is this the experience you want your puppy to have on their first journey away from Mum?

We all want the absolute best for our dogs. We put a lot of thought into training, socialisation, nutrition, and their overall wellbeing. Your puppy’s first car trip is a pretty big event in terms of their socialisation. Transport for our dogs is so often overlooked.

I hope that this article has helped you with some food for thought on how you may prepare for your puppy’s journey into their new life with you. I’d love to hear whether it’s helped. Please drop me a comment below and let me know.

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