How to Safely Get Your Dog In and Out of a Travel Kennel

Believe it or not, there are proper ways to get a dog in and out of a kennel – here’s how

Is there a wrong way to put a dog in and out of a car kennel? Not really. But there are ways to make it easier on you and your dog when you’re trying to start a trip easily. 

Get your dog comfortable with the kennel

The first thing you want to do is make sure your dog is comfortable with the travel kennel you’ve purchased. Obviously, if the dog is scared of that kennel or hasn’t been fully acclimated to it, you’re going to have an issue right off the bat. 


By getting your dog acclimated to the new kennel, you’re avoiding trips where it’s strapped into a seatbelt or riding free in the backseat. Accidents can happen any moment, and protecting your dog is of the utmost importance so make sure you make it as comfortable as an experience as possible. Reward your dog every time it goes into the kennel, and eventually your dog will love its new den. 

Make your dog sit and wait before putting it in the kennel

Once you know your dog is happy to go into its kennel, you’re ready to go… 


When you approach the tailgate of your truck or hatchback door of your SUV’s cargo hold, make your sit and wait. This protects them from hitting their head on an automatic door or from catching you off guard. It’s also great when you live in town and have cars driving past your parked car, protecting your dog from getting hit.

Reinforce this as well with a treat every time they sit and wait. Reaffirm the wait command as the automatic door opens, too, to make sure they understand you will release them. 

Get your dog in the kennel

Once your dog has sat and waited to enter the kennel, either have them jump into the cargo bay/truck bed and enter or lift them in. If you have a medium or large breed dog, they should be able to get themselves in. But if you have a smaller breed, puppy, or elderly dog, you may need to give them a lift. 

To properly lift a small to medium sized dog, place one arm snuggly around its chest and the other at the top of its back legs. In one motion, pick the dog up and place it into the open kennel. Lifting a smaller dog is much easier, but keep in mind you may need to have two people help you lift and support a large or extra large breed. 

Final steps

Once you get your dog in the kennel, close and lock the door and you’re set! To get your dog out, make it sit and wait before releasing it and reverse the above step by either helping it out if needed or have it jump out on its own.

Drive safe and enjoy the adventures with your pup.