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How to Dog Proof Your Car: 7 Great Tips

Written by: Kit Copson

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog standing on a car seat cover

How to Dog Proof Your Car: 7 Great Tips

Taking road trips with your dog is all fun and games until they puke on the back seat or chew the carpet out of your trunk. The truth is, while many dogs do well on car journeys, some dogs just don’t take to it at all—but never fear.

Whether you’ve got a heavy-shedding dog due to blow their undercoat at the same time you plan to head off on vacation with them, a dog that gets a little queasy, or—as any loving dog parent would be—you’re just worried for your pooch’s safety—here are some top tips for dog proofing your car. For best results, be sure to give the interior of your car a good clean before trying out these methods.


The 7 Tips to Dog Proof Your Car

1.  Cover the Seats

large dog sitting on car seat cover
Image Credit: Amazon

If you’re planning on only having your dog in one seat rather than spread across the entire back seat, individual seat covers are well worth considering. These typically strap on under the seat and/or behind the seat’s headrest to keep them in place.

You can get specially made pet seat covers designed to be waterproof and easy to clean, which is perfect if your dog is a drooler or has a tendency to get car sick.

2. Install a Doggy Seat Belt

Yep, you read that right—you can find seat belts just for dogs. These tethers are designed to be attached to your dog’s harness and the seat belt buckle to help protect your pooch in the event of an accident or if you need to perform an emergency brake. You can choose to buy the seat belt on its own or a seat belt and safety harness combo.

3. Install a Car Hammock

dogs in back seat
Image Credit: knelson20, Shutterstock

Seat covers designed for the back seat are typically attached to the headrests of your front and back car seats to form a hammock that your dog sits on. They’re multifunctional with the power to shield your seats from drool, hair, and vomit while providing a comfy spot for your dog—especially if they’re quilted or made of soft fabric. Car hammocks come in all different colors and patterns to suit a variety of vehicles.

4. Use Plastic Floor Mats

Once you’ve got the seats covered, protecting the car floor is something else you might want to think about. One of the most common ways to do this is to install plastic floor mats, which are super easy to clean in the event of a bathroom-related accident or slobber offensive.

5. Protect the Trunk

Bulldog sitting in the trunk of a car on a plaid
Image Credit: Aleksandra Baranoff, Shutterstock

If you usually have your dog travel in the open trunk space, there are special covers you can get to protect that area, too. These are called cargo covers or liners and they work by attaching the straps to the back headrests so that the soft material can cover the backs of the seats and the floor of the trunk. Like seat covers, they’re often waterproof, non-slip, and machine-washable.

6. Put Nail Caps on Your Dog

For those concerned about their dog’s nails damaging the car’s interior, you can always try applying nail caps. These are plastic caps that typically come with adhesives that you pop on your dog’s nails and are designed so that your dog won’t feel them.

However, while some dogs will be fine with this and may not even notice the caps, some may try to bite them off, so it may not work for every dog.

7. Cover the Windows

Dog inside a car
Image Credit: Gorloff-KV, Shutterstock

It’s not uncommon for car windows to fall victim to nose prints and dribble, so plastic window covers might help with that. Just make sure these don’t impede your vision in any way.

divider-dog paw

Traveling With Dogs in a Car – Top Tips & Tricks

In addition to protecting your car’s interior and making sure your dog is safely restrained, there are a few things you can try to make your road trip as stress-free as possible.

  • Take short trips in the car with your dog before driving them long distances.
  • Feed your dog 3 hours before you leave, avoiding heavy meals.
  • If you need to feed your dog on the road, stop the car to do so.
  • Stop regularly along the way so your dog can stretch their legs and go to the bathroom.
  • Avoid letting your dog stick their head out of the window for safety reasons.
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of clean water.
  • If you’re traveling with your dog in their crate, ensure the crate is large enough that they can stand, turn, and lie down as they need.
  • This goes without saying, but never, under any circumstances, leave your dog alone in the car, even in cool weather. This is because seeing dogs in cars alone can be alarming for well-meaning passersby, who may try to release your dog.
  • Bring an “emergency kit” with items like antibacterial wipes, gloves, and cleaning supplies in case your dog has an accident on the road.



By putting these tips into practice, we hope you can enjoy a fun, stress-free road trip with your canine companion. If your dog frequently suffers from car sickness, please have a word with your vet—they may be able to prescribe or recommend motion sickness medication that will help ease the symptoms. Bon voyage!

Featured Image Credit: Christine Bird, Shutterstock

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