Essential Gear for the Dog-Friendly Road Trip

Kevin Roberts
by Kevin Roberts
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Pet Parents often won’t leave their furbabies behind when embarking on a road trip. Make the trip as comfortable and safe as possible with our tips for essential gear.

Road trips happen all year long, and they should include our furry friends when possible. We have reviewed some options for hauling fuzz butts and the gear you need to get out and have a great time.


By far the safest option for crate trained dogs, is to secure them in crates in the back of the vehicle. The crates mean they have a designated spot in the car, but also a little piece of home once you arrive at your destination. When you open the door, a crate will hold your dog securely so they aren’t jumping out, until you are ready.

A downside of crates can be the lack of airflow. A metal wire crate gives air a better chance to flow, but it doesn’t contain the mess and isn’t as secure in an accident. More heavy duty crates will withstand a traffic accident better, but accommodations must be made to ensure there is proper ventilation, especially on hot days.

Crates take up a lot of room. Creative packers will utilize all the space around the side of the crate, and even on top. But again, don’t pack too tightly lest you limit the airflow.

Multiple dogs mean multiple crates, and that can quickly become an issue when trying to find space to secure all the crates in the car.


Those with a SUV can look into getting a barrier to secure pets in the cargo area. A barrier will keep the dogs from roaming about in the vehicle while you are driving, but still allow them plenty of room in the back to move around. Barriers allow for plenty of air flow as well, meaning your pet is going to get access to all that cool AC air. Plenty of air flow can also mean that small tornadoes of pet hair can fly about your car, but what’s a little (or a lot) of pet hair to a pet parent?

Pet barriers give the driver some peace of mind, allowing the dog to remain contained in one area, away from the gear and other passengers. With the dog safely secured behind the barrier, there’s lots of room on the back set for stashing gear or kids. Yet for those in the back seat, it is easy to reach through the bars of some barriers to offer a pet to a furry best friend.

As pet barriers are pressure mounted, there is a chance they will come loose especially if you have a large dog who likes to lean on things. Other times just driving over bumpy roads is enough to wiggle some of the components lose. If you use a pet gate, ensure that you are checking it regularly.

Pet barriers are not crash tested, so they offer limited safety in an accident. Ensure you have followed the installation instructions and check it routinely.

Hammock/Seat Covers

For back seat dogs, pet parents have the option between seat covers or hammocks. Seat covers are either sold specifically for a vehicle model or generic one size fits all. Both form a protective shield against slobber, dirt and hair. Keeping your dog on the seat and allows plenty of room for stashing your junk in the trunk.

Hammocks are available in a variety of materials, some of the best feature anti-slip and waterproof materials. Some include side flaps to protect the door from becoming scratched, and will allow you to create a space to store things on the backseat floor, away from the dog. Hammocks are great for keeping a dog from toppling to the floor, but won’t stop a dog from flying into the front seat in a sudden stop or accident.

Seat covers can be a better fit for a vehicle, and allow you easier access to the floor of the back seat. They fit snugly over a bucket or bench seat and are held in place with straps. Be sure to check the compatibility of the cover with your vehicle’s make and model. Not all seat covers are created equally and not all are created to withstand a pup’s nails. Your best bet it to use one of the many seat covers manufactured for pets.

If you use a hammock or a seat cover, it is recommended that you use a seatbelt for safely securing your dog.

Roof racks

Once you have everything sorted out inside the car, you might still find that you need a bit more room. Roof racks and cargo systems are a great option for hauling toys and gear. With roof racks, you usually get what you pay for. A higher tech, more secure roof rack is going to cost you more money, but less headache in the long run. Check the compatibility of the roof rack with your make and model of vehicle. Once you have the crossbars the options are endless. Specialty racks are made to carry canoes, kayaks, bikes and cargo boxes. Research carefully for what you plan to haul.

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

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