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Bringing a Puppy Home

Updated: 2 hours ago

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Most vets agree that 8 weeks is an ideal time for puppies to leave their mother and go home with their new human parents.

So, what do you need to be aware of when you bring your new puppy home in your car?

Essentially a new puppy is really no different from a new-born baby so they can definitely be a distraction to the driver. As a dog owner, when it comes to car safety the legal obligations are not as strict as transporting children, but the obvious dangers involved are similar.

Puppy in car looking out of the window wearing red sunglasses

Many motorists are unaware that driving with an unrestrained dog can attract a fine of up to £5,000 for careless driving.

We explore a number of restraining options available to you including soft crates, harnesses, dog seats and seat belt tethers looking at the pros and cons for you and your precious new puppy.

Table of Contents

1. Laying on your Lap

2. Cardboard Box

3. Soft Dog Car Crate

4. Puppy Harness & Tether

5. Dog Car Seat

6. Tips for a Stress Free Journey

How to Transport Your Puppy in the Car

Ultimately, how you bring your puppy home in the car is up to you, but obviously you will want to keep your fur-ball and the rest of your family as safe as possible on that all important first journey.

Ideally collecting your puppy from the breeder is not a solo mission, it’s a really sensible idea to take someone with you.

A friend or family member can then provide the much needed reassurance for puppy, leaving you to can concentrate on the driving. Plus, your puppy will bond to the people they encounter early on, so this is a great opportunity to start bonding whilst you bring your new puppy home and build the foundations of a great relationship.

So what options are available for bringing your puppy home in the car safe and sound ?

Let's take a look at each of your options and explore the suitability, ease and safety of each.

1. Laying on your Lap

Many people, for understandable reasons, just want to cuddle the puppy on their lap. If you decide to do this, then definitely sit in the back of the car where it's obviously much safer for puppy and is less of a distraction for the driver.

Puppy travelling by car on owners lap

Consider comfort and how to minimise the impact of puppy accidents. Place a blanket on your lap, if you can find something with mum's sent this would be perfect to help calm your puppy as this can be an anxious time for them.

Add a few old cloths and newspapers in case of the odd puppy accident.

Just be aware that this is by no means the safest option for the puppy in the event of a crash and can so easily cause the driver to become distracted.

For some measure of control, consider fitting your puppy with a collar and a lead. You will then have something to grab as they can easily cause all sorts of issues if they are loose in the car.

If you find that the collar is too big, simply unclip it, twist it around once or twice and refit it. It's not ideal but it's a temporary solution to the problem.


+ Cuddles!


- Most unsafe option

- Driver distractions

2. Cardboard Box

Although not the safest option, many new puppy owners choose to use a cardboard box. If you opt for this method make sure to line it with some newspaper (in case of accidents) and ideally something that smells of mum for comfort.

Puppy travelling by car in a cardboard box

Use the car seat belt system to strap the box securely in place. The driver is far less likely to become distracted if the puppy is in a box on the rear seat than on someone's lap.

But be aware that using a cardboard box with high sides does limit your puppy's field of vision which may lead to car sickness.


+ Cuddles!

+ Less driver distractions


- Not rigid enclosure

- Limited field of vision

- Not particularly safe

3. Soft Dog Car Crate

A soft dog crate is an ideal solution for safe travel. Crates confine the puppy in a cosy den-like space to help them snooze the journey away, whilst providing some views and air circulation through mesh windows.

In the event of a crash they offer some protection and are considerably less distracting to the driver. So it's really win-win.

Secure the carrier onto a seat with the seatbelt to stop it shifting around during the journey or better still, place it on the floor behind the front seats.

If you do need to travel with the puppy in the front passenger seat, don't forget to disable the airbag.

Here are two popular options if you decide to use a soft dog crate to bring your puppy home. Fabric crates are also ideal for future vets visits and can help to socialise before puppy is fully vaccinated.

AmazonBasics Premium Folding Soft Dog Crate

There are lots of fabric crates to choose from but our top pick is the AmazonBasics Premium Folding Soft Dog Crate.

Amazon soft dog crate with white dog

Designed to ensure a comfortable and safe first ride home, this soft crate is available in 5 sizes from the smallest at 53cm to a whopping 107cm.

Better still, this soft crate incorporates a strong PVC frame so it holds it's shape but is extremely light to carry to your car.

We love the large mesh windows on the sides which have been designed to ensure maximum ventilation and views for your pup.

These mesh windows can certainly help reduce the chance of dog car sickness which is unfortunately quite common in puppies.

The fabric exterior can be hand-washed in case of the odd accident and the crate even includes a cosy fleece mat for comfort. The large top opening along with the front 'door' provide very easy access for you to keep puppy calm throughout the journey.

Padded carry handles, and several storage pockets complete the thoughtful design and if you're not keen on the blue, don't worry it's available in a range of five colours.

Dimensions - L x H : 53 x 28 cm | 66 x 36 cm | 78 x 43 cm | 91 x 53 cm | 107 x 66 cm

Reasons to Buy

+ Mesh ventilation

+ Rigid frame

+ Portable

+ Range of sizes

+ Easier to use than a harness

Reasons to Avoid

- Pricier than a cardboard box

- Not as safe as a harness

Morpilot Pet Carrier

This super stylish pet carrier is a great alternative to the AmazonBasics soft crate for transporting puppy. It has padded carry handles along with an additional shoulder strap to make light work of transporting puppy.

Morpilot collapsible fabric dog carrier with shoulder strap and water bowl

Made from polyester, the base is strengthened with a support board to help maintain shape whilst being carried.

The sides are comfortably padded and the design incorporates mesh windows on the top and sides to improve ventilation and visibility.

What's more, both ends open completely and there is a large zippable mesh window on top for easy access.

We feel that the only downside to this stylish designed soft crate is the limited sizes available. There are two options, both of which are small and only suitable for puppies or small breed dogs. So whilst it may be perfect for the initial journeys, your puppy will outgrow it quickly.

The carrier does include a couple of thoughtful extras including a washable fluffy mat for comfort and a collapsible water bowl. It could be really useful for vet visits and socialisation trips before puppy is fully vaccinated. Available in a range of three colours.

Dimensions -

M - 44 x 31 x 34 cm up to 6.8 kg

L- 45.5 x 32 x 35.5 cm up to 9 kg

Reasons to Buy

+ Stylish design

+ Cosy mat for comfort

+ Includes shoulder strap

+ Easier to use than a harness

Reasons to Avoid

- Small sizes only

- Not as safe as a harness

4. Puppy Harness & Tether

A harness is generally considered to be the safest choice of car restraint for dogs. It fits around the chest and neck snuggly and connects directly to your car seat belt system.

Choose a comfortable harness with plenty of padding for their delicate puppy frame, as poorly made harnesses can rub. Once your dog is fitted with the harness, the harness then attaches to your car’s seat belt system with a tether.

The main disadvantage to opting for a harness for the initial journey home is that your young puppy won’t be accustomed to it, and may become confused or distressed by wearing it for the first time.

So you need to weigh up the safety offered by a harness with the possible distress it may cause your puppy.

If you opt for a harness, we recommend this Happy Ride harness from Petsafe as it is fully certified crash tested.

Crucially, it's available in four sizes with a handy sizing guide available online, it takes into account the chest, neck and the weight of your puppy to help you select the best fit.

A car seat belt tether (included when you purchase the harness) attaches to the back of the harness and the other end clicks directly into your car seat belt system.

Reasons to Buy

+ Safest option

+ Comfortable

Reasons to Avoid

- Harder to fit correctly

- May cause additional stress

5. Dog Car Seat

For very small dogs you can also use a dog booster seat, but remember your dog must always be directly restrained with a harness, not just placed in the seat.

a puppy in a car booster seat on the rear seat of a car

Dog car seats and boosters can be used to raise your puppy up to the perfect height to look out the car window.

They are an ideal option for puppies and smaller breeds. Available in a range of elevated and non- elevated versions, they are a perfect solution for travelling in the car.

They connect to your car seat belt or headrests and usually offer a safety tether which attaches to your puppy harness.

We review the best dog car seats and boosters available in the UK in our article Top 10 Dog Car Seats. If this is a potential option for you, why not take a look.

6. Tips for a Stress Free Journey

Whichever method you choose to bring your puppy home, here are a few tips to help keep the first journey with your little bundle of fur, as stress-free as possible :-

  • Try not to let children or adults handle your puppy too much if they're nervous.

  • If puppy sleeps, don't wake ! This is a tiring and stressful time for them.

  • Keep your car well ventilated.

  • Make sure you take water and food for longer journeys.

  • If you must stop on the way home be very careful where you place puppy on the ground. As your puppy isn't vaccinated yet, carry them to a remote area before placing on the ground. Don't forget to scoop the poop especially as new puppies poop can contain parasites.

  • Consider collecting your puppy in the morning so you arrive home during daylight, this allows you to spend time together before the first bedtime comes around.

Before you go.....

Despite all your preparation, if your puppy has a stressful journey home and you are concerned that your gorgeous ball of fluff may suffer from car sickness, don't panic. Pour yourself a cuppa and read our article for some practical advice on how you can help -

How to Cure Dog Travel Sickness

We also have an article full of handy hints and tips for a stress-free first day at home - Puppy's First Day : How to Survive the First 24 Hours

Thanks for stopping by and reading our article on Bringing a Puppy Home