Tips Happy dogs travel


We’re on a mission to help pooches travel happier. In partnership with our friends at Dogs Trust, we’re here to ensure every journey you take with your pup is a feel-good, stress-free experience for everyone.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Dr Jenna Kiddie, Head of Canine Behaviour at Dogs Trust, to create these four steps and show owners how to easy it is to make every trip a fun experience for our furry friends.

From introducing your dog to car travel early on to teaching them to be the paw-fect passenger, follow these simple steps and you’ll be on the road together in no time. Once you’ve got the hang of it, share your success snaps on social using #MINITravelHappy.

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Before you even think about getting behind the wheel, it’s a good idea to let your dog get used to your car.

Open up the doors and the boot and encourage them to have a good sniff around so they can get familiar with your vehicle’s scent. Make sure they’re calm and paying attention to you during this first meeting. Giving them a tasty reward for their nose work will help build positive associations with the car.

Then encourage them to settle down next to the car – it’s a good behaviour to teach them from the beginning. They’ll soon learn that waiting quietly will get them inside, where more treats await.


Once they’re comfortable around your vehicle, invite them to hop in and out of the car at their leisure. If they’ve got little legs, they might need an extra hand from you.

You can tell your dog’s a happy traveller when they enthusiastically jump in and settle easily. A much-loved blanket or cushion, full of familiar smells, can help your dog feel calm and relaxed.

Shaking, panting and pulling away from the car can be signs they’re distressed. They might be anxious about car journeys because they associate it with the dreaded vets or feeling a bit sick – so try to take some trips purely for fun to the beach or park.

Watch out for signs of over-stimulation and stress. Wagging tails and panting can show excitement or anxiety, but other negative tells include excessive yawning, tucked tails, lip-licking and whining.

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Your dog should have enough space to do a “three-point turn” in your car. This means they should have plenty of room to stand up, turn around comfortably, and lie back down in their area of the car. This freedom to get comfy helps keep them calm while you’re driving.

You might want to use a guard or crate to keep your hound safe and sound – and avoid any distractions for the driver when you’re on the move.


Reward your pooch for being a great travel companion, and teach them that the back of your MINI is a fantastic place to be, by bringing their favourite snacks.

You could prepare their favourite chew to keep them occupied on longer journeys, or have a passenger drop them tasty treats from time to time. Boiled chicken is a healthy alternative to biscuits – but the most important thing is your dog enjoys their reward.

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Car journeys can be thirsty work, so make sure they have access to drinking water. There are loads of portable bowls on the market, specially designed to reduce spillage and messes.

It’s not just people that get travelsick. Dog car sickness is common and can be stressful (especially for whoever has to clean it up) so look out for tell-tale signs. If they’re drooling or licking their lips more than usual, or retching, then stop and take a break. If their sickly habits continue, stick to shorter stints in the car.

Hungry for more? Fetch more helpful tips on our Dogs Hub, and read about our recommended dog car accessories.