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The Best Dog Carriers for Every Traveler

Dog Carriers
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updated: May 21, 2024

Whether you and your best friend are headed to a faraway land or taking a quick trip across town, getting the right dog carrier can make the difference between a calm and uneventful trip, and a nerve-wracking one. I can’t stress how important it is to invest in a breezy, comfortable, and sturdy carrier, but with so many styles out there, it can be difficult for even the most caring pet owners to pick out the best carrier for their dog without doing some serious research first.

The good news is that because there is such a large variety of dog carriers on the market, there is certainly a premium airline-approved, purse-like, or collapsable carrier out there that will feel like it was made especially for your pup. After many hours of investigation, reading through countless reviews left by dedicated pet owners, and getting help from my own puppy to test out a few, I have assembled this year’s greatest carriers for keeping your dog cozy and safe wherever you two go.

What to consider when buying dog carriers

Size

It’s extremely important to buy a carrier that allows your dog to easily turn around, stretch, and comfortably sit inside, so you will need to measure your pet before buying the first carrier that grabs your attention. Take a tape measurer and see how long your dog is from the end of their nose to the base of their tail, and note their height from the floor to their shoulders. Next, you’ll add three to five inches of additional space in both directions to determine the best size carrier for your dog. Smushed-face (brachycephalic) dogs like pugs, Boston terriers, and French bulldogs require more ventilation, and for safety reasons, it’s best to get them a carrier that’s one size larger.

Dog carriers also have a weight limit, so be sure to buy a carrier that easily accommodates your dog’s weight. If you’re having a difficult time choosing between two carriers because your dog’s weight is somewhere between their respective weight limits, always go with the larger model to be safe.

Safety and comfort

Speaking of safety, look for a carrier with ventilation features on two or more sides, (usually in the form of a sturdy mesh window) and a method of attaching a seat belt directly to the carrier. Because of the potential for dangerous breathing issues, brachycephalic dogs (like pugs) will need ventilation on all four sides. These dogs should also only travel in a horizontal carrier and not in a vertical one like backpacks, even for short trips.

Additional features that will keep your pet from getting stressed while on the go are plush machine-washable dog beds to curl up on, and additional storage to bring favorite treats, meals, medicine, and other travel essentials. For sling type carriers, look for a metal clasp that connects to your dog’s harness to prevent them from jumping out.

Don’t discount your own comfort. A carrier with an ergonomic handle or straps, smooth-rolling wheels, and the ability to be tucked neatly under an airplane seat will all come together to give you extra peace of mine while you’re out and about.

Durability

It doesn’t matter whether your dog is gentle or an avid chewer, it’s well-worth paying extra for a sturdier carrier made to easily endure your travels. Look for carriers made with durable materials such as thick plastic, leather, and reinforced nylon, as well as fabric models made with reinforced stitching that will easily hold up over many trips.

If you’re concerned about durability, consider buying a carrier with a higher weight limit, as they are designed to be more rugged than carriers intended for extra-small toy breeds. For further reading on materials that can withstand determined dogs (and why they chew), check out our guide to the best dog beds for chewers.

Purpose

There is a sizable variety of dog carriers out there, and each was crafted for a unique purpose. For example, a sling or purse-styled carrier is an excellent choice for keeping a small, anxious dog comfortable and out from under your feet as you walk around. Little dogs who need more consoling during an anxiety-provoking trip will appreciate your closeness while you go about your day.

Bag-like carriers are some of the best picks for air travel and road trips, as many of the models on my list were explicitly designed to accommodate the pet-related rules of most airlines. Whether you’re taking a car, bicycle, or hiking with your dog, a backpack-style carrier is another convenient option that usually includes bonus storage and a comfortable design for pet owners to carry around hands-free.

Our top picks for the best dog carriers

Best value dog carrier: Frisco Basic Dog Carrier Bag

Sure, there are a few particularly expensive dog carriers on my list, however the Frisco Basic Dog Carrier is proof that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a rock-solid pet carrier. Available in three slick colors and two convenient sizes to best suit your dog, Frisco’s roomy, well-ventilated, airline-approved carrier is a top pick for budget-friendly traveling with your little dog. Even if you don’t travel often, these inexpensive carriers are a handy way to transport extra-small breeds and puppies to the vet, as a verified buyer shares in their review, “I bought two of these to get my puppies to the vet while strapped into seat belts. They were great. They’re very lightweight…and look really cute. I really like that they fold flat…highly recommended.”

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: Small/Medium, Medium/Large
  • Weight: 2.09 pounds, 2.76 pounds
  • Materials: Polyester, fleece, mesh, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 11.5” H x 8” W x 17” L (Small/Medium), 14” H x 10” W x 19”L (Medium/Large)
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 10 pounds, 22 pounds
  • Price on publish: $20.13, $29.52

What we like:

  • Featherweight
  • Comfortable and adjustable straps
  • Inexpensive
  • Water-resistant
  • Machine-washable sherpa
  • Comes in three trim colors: Gray, Pink, Teal

What we don’t like:

  • Best for smaller pets

The bottom line:

Although there are far more durable and feature-rich dog carriers, this comfortable sherpa-lined model is easily the best affordable travel-friendly option on the market.

Best value dog carrier
Frisco Basic Dog Carrier Bag

Frisco Basic Dog Carrier Bag

Best airline approved carrier: Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline Approved Guaranteed On Board Travel Pet Carrier Bag

Selecting the perfect dog carrier while needing to be absolutely certain that it’ll be accepted by your airline can be stressful, but Sherpa’s Guaranteed On Board (GOB) program and lineup of plush, well-ventilated, and premier-quality carriers help to make getting ready for takeoff much easier. Some of this universally airline-approved carrier’s standout features include its convenient top-load zipper position, rugged reinforced stitching, and an especially cozy removable liner that is sure to make your little dog forget all about the stresses of traveling too.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: Medium, Large (both intended for small breeds)
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds, 4.9 pounds
  • Materials: Polyester, mesh, faux fur, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 10.5” H x 11” W x 17” L (Medium), 11.5” H x 11.75” W x 19” L (Large)
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 16 pounds, 22 pounds
  • Price on publish: $35.95, $53.30

What we like:

  • Sturdy escape-proof zippers
  • Breathable mesh enclosure
  • Optimized to fit neatly under airplane seats

What we don’t like:

  • Only available in black
  • GOB program has required forms

The bottom line:

Lightweight, ruggedly made, and comfortable to carry, Sherpa’s dog carrier bags really go a long way toward making your flight an easier one.

Best airline approved carrier
Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline Approved Guaranteed On Board Travel Pet Carrier Bag

Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline Approved Guaranteed On Board Travel Pet Carrier Bag

Best dog carrier backpack: Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort Backpack & Rolling Carrier

Why settle for an average over the shoulder dog bag, when you can get a high-quality backpack that doubles as a smooth roller bag, secure car seat, and a convenient tote? The I-GO2 Escort from Pet Gear sports a breezy design with seven mesh ventilation slots, a telescoping handle for cruising through the airport terminal, a spacious interior for pets to easily move around in, and a trio of stylish colors to choose from. Backpacking dog owners will get their money’s worth from this premium carrier, and verified buyers praise the I-GO2 Escort’s sturdiness, quality, and versatility

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for small breeds
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Materials: Nylon, mesh, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 19” H x 9” W x 14” L
  • Maximum weight recommendation: N/A
  • Price on publish: $47.53 - $59.98 (depending on color)

What we like:

  • Wheeled, with telescoping handles
  • Makes an excellent car seat
  • Washable fleece liner
  • Extra-large mesh window and breathable side-windows

What we don’t like:

  • Bigger size options would be appreciated

The bottom line:

The Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort works well as a comfortable backpack for pets and pet owners alike but its versatility as a tote, wheeled roller, and car seat combo gives it far more value than the average backpack.

Best dog carrier backpack
Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort Backpack & Rolling Carrier

Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort Backpack & Rolling Carrier

Best dog carrier purse: Jespet GooPaws Comfy Dog Sling

The GooPaws Dog Sling is everything you would want from a purse-like pet carrier. Tiny dogs will appreciate its spacious interior, cooling breathable fabric, and adjustable peep hole, while their owners will value its featherweight feel, cozy shoulder strap, and convenient zippered pocket. This hands-free carrier’s ability to securely hold your smartphone and cash, as well as poop bags and treats via its rugged external pocket makes it a versatile puppy purse, and one verified buyer completely agrees: “It fits perfectly around me and my chihuahua loves the snug fabric! Looks so adorable on! I can slide my phone in the sling…keys go on [the] side. Perfect for the mama of a fur baby! Fits well for winter, spring, and fall! The fabric is warm & cool!! Adore”

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for small breeds
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Materials: Fleece, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 9.5” H x 3.6” W x 8.1” L
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 12 pounds
  • Price on publish: $24.99

What we like:

  • Breathable and soft inner fabric
  • Convenient zippered storage pouch
  • Adjustable head hole size
  • Inner tether keeps your pup from jumping out

What we don’t like:

  • The strap itself isn’t adjustable

The bottom line:

With enough space to store your smartphone, a few cards, and some cash, this cozy dog carrier is the best purse-alternate if you own an extra-cuddly small dog or a young puppy.

Best dog carrier purse
Jespet GooPaws Comfy Dog Sling

Jespet GooPaws Comfy Dog Sling

Best dog carrier tote: Mobile Dog Gear Week Away Tote Bag

Prepared pet parents will want to bring everything their dog may need during a longer journey, and that’s why this specialized tote bag is a must-have for those prolonged flights and road trips. Available in your choice of pink, blue, black, gray, and a charming paw print design, this tote has many pockets and compartments for securely storing prepared dog food, medicine, and snacks. There are also useful extras such as an integrated placemat and a cute bone-shaped luggage tag. With its sturdy design, convenient collapsible silicone bowls, and a comfortable adjustable strap, this tote carrier goes a long way towards making trips less stressful for both you and your cuddly companion.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: Small, Medium/Large
  • Weight: 1 pound, 3.42 pounds
  • Materials: Polyester, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 11” H x 6” W x 12” L (Small), 14” H x 7” W x 15” L (Medium/Large)
  • Maximum weight recommendation: N/A
  • Price on publish: $49.99, $59.99

What we like:

  • Includes two lined food carriers, two collapsible silicone bowls, placemat, and ID tag
  • Tons of storage room
  • Available in five fun color options

What we don’t like:

  • Some colors are pricier than others

The bottom line:

Traveling can be tough on a dog, but this tote’s generous storage space makes it easy to bring along all your best friend’s creature comforts and a bit more just in case.

Best dog carrier tote
Mobile Dog Gear Week Away Tote Bag

Mobile Dog Gear Week Away Tote Bag

Best dog carrier for a bike: K&H Pet Products Travel Bike Backpack

K&H’s bike-based pet carrier stands apart from the pack for multiple reasons. It's so easy to attach and remove from a bicycle, it has a safety tether to clasp onto your dog’s harness, and most importantly, it doubles as an all-around excellent backpack. I appreciate its padded adjustable shoulder straps, how much room the pack provides for its four-legged passenger, and its extra-large mesh side pockets perfect for holding dog treats.

I’m not the only one who knows how this backpack carrier is perfectly suited for a Yorkie like mine, as according to a purchaser's beaming review: “This is the perfect dog carrier for my four lb Yorkie. It barely weighs anything despite being a fairly sturdy backpack. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is really great. There are enough pockets and storage areas to carry everything…and the inside area is comfortably spacious for my dog.”

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for small breeds
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Materials: Polyester, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 14” L x 9.5” W x 15.75” H
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 15 pounds
  • Price on publish: $59.82

What we like:

  • Backpack easily mounts onto a bike
  • Large breathable mesh window
  • Plenty of storage pockets

What we don’t like:

  • Rear bike mount sold separately

The bottom line:

This featherweight biking backpack is surprisingly sturdy, and it’s a snap to attach to the front of a bike, making it the top option for pet-loving cyclists.

Best dog carrier for a bike
K&H Pet Products Travel Bike Backpack

K&H Pet Products Travel Bike Backpack

Best collapsible dog carrier: Richell Foldable Pet Carrier

People love the security of knowing their dog is safely locked inside of a hard-sided carrier, but no one wants to make room in the closet for a bulky kennel when the vacation’s over. Richell’s Foldable Carrier delivers the best of both worlds with its rugged plastic shell, and how easily it folds down for storage. With a highly ventilated design and the ability to attach it to a car seat for extra-safe travels, its charm goes beyond collapsing to a fraction of its full size.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: Extra Small, Small, Medium
  • Weight: 4.9 pounds, 6.8 pounds, 12.6 pounds
  • Materials: Polypropylene
  • Dimensions: 19" L x 12" W x 12" H (Extra Small), 22” L x 13.5” W x 15” H (Small), 26.5" L x 17.5" W x 20" H (Medium)
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 11 pounds, 17.6 pounds, 44 pounds
  • Price on publish: $100, $150, $220

What we like:

  • Folds down in seconds for easy storage
  • Rugged plastic construction
  • Available in three sizes

What we don’t like:

  • Not airline approved

The bottom line:

Anyone looking for a dependable dog carrier that easily folds down for storage will get their money’s worth from this rugged hard-sided model.

Best collapsible dog carrier
Richell Foldable Pet Carrier

Richell Foldable Pet Carrier

Best expandable dog carrier: Frisco Single Soft Sided Expandable Dog Carrier

If you feel bad about having to place your little buddy in a cramped carrier for an extra-long flight, you’re not the only one. Thankfully Frisco’s popular expandable dog carrier gives your dog plenty of extra legroom. It may seem like the average carrier at a glance, but this lightweight model includes an expandable middle section that provides almost twice the “floorspace” to move around, spread out, and get comfortable. It takes moments to release, or put away, the expansion making this an inexpensive pick for dogs who aren’t comfortable sitting in a more cramped carrier.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for small and medium breeds
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Materials: Polyester
  • Dimensions: 17.3” L x 11” W x 11” H
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 22 pounds
  • Price on publish: $39.99

What we like:

  • Expands to almost double the width for extra legroom
  • Plush padded mat
  • Reinforced comfortable handles

What we don’t like:

  • Only available in gray

The bottom line:

Its low price, extra storage, and expandable mesh segment makes this carrier a top option for dog owners who want to provide their pet more room to stretch out while traveling.

Best expandable dog carrier
Frisco Single Soft Sided Expandable Dog Carrier

Frisco Single Soft Sided Expandable Dog Carrier

Best dog carrier with a laptop compartment: Roverlund Ready-for-Adventure Pet Backpack

While there are plenty of backpack-style dog carriers on the market, Roverlund’s is easily the best choice for storing your tech alongside your puppy’s travel supplies. In addition to the Ready-for-Adventure Backpack’s protective laptop sleeve—which is its own pocket between your dog’s compartment and your back—its other key features include genuinely comfortable padded straps, a trio of zippered ventilation windows, lots of storage for other items, and it's suitable for flying with most airlines.

I’m not the only one who appreciated this stylish doggie bag. A verifed reviewer notes, “My miniature poodle loves a backpack and Roverlund's backpack is our favorite. It is large enough for him to climb in on his own. He is 20 lbs and has a nice amount of room to reposition himself. The shoulder straps are nice and puffy so I'm comfortable carrying him, too!”

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for extra small to medium breeds
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Materials: 1200D waterproof polyester, mountain climbing rope
  • Dimensions: 18” H x 13” W x 9” L
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 25 pounds
  • Price on publish: $189

What we like:

  • Hidden laptop sleeve
  • Inner leash clip for safety
  • Airline compliant
  • Pair of cute mesh side windows
  • Comes in three colors: Black/Yellow, Camo/Magenta, and Camo/Orange

What we don’t like:

  • Any complaints would be nit-picking

The bottom line:

While its secret laptop sleeve is great, this backpack’s comfortable ergonomic straps, breathable mesh windows, and plenty of additional storage makes this a top-tier dog carrier.

Best dog carrier with a laptop compartment
Roverlund Ready-for-Adventure Pet Backpack

Roverlund Ready-for-Adventure Pet Backpack

Best dog carrier on wheels: Katziela Luxury Rider Pro

When it comes to pure versatility, Katziela’s Luxury Rider Pro is easily the best wheeled carrier available. It’s a sizable soft-sided carrier with plenty of ventilation on all sides, exceeds all TSA flight-approved carrier standards, and is available in six stylish designs. But what sets this model apart from the competition is its unique wheel base. You’ll appreciate transporting your dog throughout the terminal on six gliding wheels while holding the carrier’s telescoping handle. And it only gets better when you see how easily you can snap off the wheel section to stow in the overhead bin while tucking the carrier under the seat in front of you.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for extra small to medium breeds
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Materials: Mesh
  • Dimensions: 19” L x 13” W x 15” H
  • Maximum Weight Recommendation: 22 pounds
  • Price on publish: $149.99

What we like:

  • Its six wheels provide an extra-smooth glide across floors
  • Handy collapsible suitcase-like handle and strap handles
  • Breathable mesh sides
  • Machine washable fleece bed
  • Locking zipper

What we don’t like:

  • It would be nit-picking to complain about this model

The bottom line:

Between how quickly its wheeled base can be removed or added, how smoothly it rolls, and its all-around durability, the Katziela Luxury Rider Pro is easily the most conveniently designed wheeled dog carrier out there.

Best dog carrier on wheels
Katziela Luxury Rider Pro

Katziela Luxury Rider Pro

Best dog stroller: Gen7Pets Promenade Pet Stroller

Buying a dog stroller can be tricky, as it needs to comfortably seat your dog, be easy to push, and feature the storage you need for a water bowl, leash, poop bags, and other dog walking essentials. Not only does the Promenade easily fit all breeds up to 50 pounds, it has plenty of room for your essential supplies and more. I’m particularly impressed with how effectively it absorbs bumps in the road and glides across pavement. Its breezy mesh canopy and multiple color options add to the Promenade’s appeal.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for extra small to medium breeds
  • Weight: 15.5 pounds
  • Materials: Rubber, aluminum, mesh, polyester, metal, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 35” H x 21” W x 39” L
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 50 pounds
  • Price on publish: $149.97 - $199.95 (depending on color)

What we like:

  • A snap to fold and unfold
  • Roomy interior and cool mesh enclosure
  • Plenty of storage

What we don’t like:

  • The included padding is adequate, but you may want to bring a blankie for additional comfort.

The bottom line:

Dogs will love its multiple cooling mesh windows and roomy seating area, and you’ll enjoy how well this stroller maneuvers and absorbs shocks for an especially smooth stroll.

Best dog stroller
Gen7Pets Promenade Pet Stroller

Gen7Pets Promenade Pet Stroller

Best wearable dog carrier for small dogs: FurryFido Classic Reversible Sling

It can be difficult to do chores around the house if you own a tiny dog who’s always by your side and hoping to cuddle, but this snuggly wearable carrier is designed to make everyone happy. FurryFido’s Classic Sling sports a reversible design, a conveniently designed safety hook that easily snaps on a collar or harness to keep jumpers close, and most importantly, little dogs won’t mind napping away inside its cozy interior while you go about your day. I was also glad to see that it’s available in four colors, is machine washable, and has a featherweight design that you won’t mind wearing whenever you and your pup need a continuous cuddle.

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for extra-small and small breeds
  • Weight: N/A
  • Materials: Polyester, synthetic fabric
  • Dimensions: 21” L x 4.5” W x 6.5” H
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 13 pounds
  • Price on publish: $22.99

What we like:

  • Integrated metal tether
  • Comfortable reversible hands-free sling
  • Available in pink, blue, gray, and black

What we don’t like:

  • Although the shoulder strap is accommodating, it’s not adjustable

The bottom line:

FuryFido’s simple, yet dependable sling is the best wearable carrier because of its roomy interior, conveniently metal safety clasp, and machine-washable design.

Best wearable dog carrier for small dogs:
FurryFido Classic Reversible Sling

FurryFido Classic Reversible Sling

Best luxury dog carrier: Maxbone Global Citizen Pet Carrier Bag

If you and your dog are frequent fliers, this roomy, especially sturdy, and comfortably designed carrier is certainly worth the $325 investment. Some of the standout features of Global Citizen’s premier carrier bag include its reinforced cotton canvas body, adjustable shoulder strap with leather trim and gunmetal hardware, ultra-plush, faux sherpa-lined bed, and bonus storage for small items.

I’m not the only one who appreciates the impressive craftsmanship of this pet bag. A verified buyer notes, “This pet carrier was everything I wanted it to be, and more. My dog loves it, most importantly. It is extremely well made and beautiful as well. It is sturdier than most bags, [and] gave no [indication] of my dog becoming uncomfortable.”

Specifications:

  • Available sizes: One size for small to medium dogs
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Materials: Nylon, faux sherpa, leather, cotton canvas
  • Dimensions: 10.5” H x 12” W x 17” L
  • Maximum weight recommendation: 20 pounds
  • Price on publish: $325

What we like:

  • Spacious and especially cozy interior
  • Extra pockets and card holders
  • Durable, yet stylish

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Sherpa liner is hand wash only

The bottom line:

Although the Global Citizen Pet Carrier Bag is a particularly pricey option, it’s an excellent investment for frequent travelers who need a surprisingly sturdy, yet fluffy and comfortable carrier.

Best luxury dog carrier
Maxbone Global Citizen Pet Carrier Bag

Maxbone Global Citizen Pet Carrier Bag

How we selected the best dog carriers

I spent a lot of time researching, comparing, testing, and scrutinizing reviews left by other buyers to hand-select the best dog carriers on the market. I investigated both big and small pet product manufacturers to highlight both popular models that absolutely deserve every bit of praise they receive, as well as hidden gems that deserve their spot in the limelight. I also noted important aspects of each carrier, such as overall comfort for pets and their owners alike, durability, whether or not they are generally airline approved, storage, style, price, and additional features.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How do you know if a pet carrier is airline approved?

Although the exact specifications slightly differ between airlines, there are a few reliable ways to find out if a pet carrier is a good fit for your next flight.

The best place to start is to do your own research by visiting the website of the pet brand that created the dog carrier to definitively learn if it is airline approved. In addition, it’s a good idea to look up the rules regarding pet carriers via your airline’s website just to be certain that your dog’s new bag meets all the criteria of permitted carriers.

For example, these are the rules Delta Airlines has regarding dog carriers:

“Your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel with the ability to move around without touching or sticking out from the sides.

The kennel must fit underneath the seat directly in front of you.

The soft-sided kennel must be leak-proof and have ventilation openings on three sides for domestic travel and four sides for international travel.

The maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by the aircraft dimensions of your flight, as the under-seat space varies by aircraft. Delta recommends a soft-sided kennel with maximum dimensions of 18” x 11” x 11” since this fits most aircraft types.”

Is it safe to carry your dog in a backpack?

For some dogs, yes, but only in backpacks specifically designed to hold a dog. These unique backpacks are designed with multiple ventilation windows, plenty of cushioned padding, and a rugged closure to prevent your favorite escape artist from getting out on their own. Keep an eye out for backpack dog carriers that are waterproof and chew-proof, have a lightweight ergonomic design that you won’t mind carrying around, and that have additional storage for water, snacks, and other puppy essentials.

Note that some dogs, such as brachycephalic breeds (like pugs, Boston terriers, and French bulldogs), fragile seniors and puppies, injured or sick dogs, as well as individuals who are larger and heavier, are not a good fit for a backpack dog carrier. These dogs should have a horizontal carrier and you may need to get a larger size for enhanced comfort and ventilation. If you have any questions, talk with your veterinarian.

How long can a dog stay in a backpack carrier?

Generally, a healthy, non-brachycephalic dog can stay in a backpack for three to four hours at a time. If you’re taking a road trip and using a backpack carrier, it’s a good rule of thumb to give your dog a break to potty, eat, drink, and stretch their legs every few hours to keep them comfortable throughout your journey. Backpacks are not appropriate for long journeys such as overnight or to the other side of the world.

It’s also good to note that even the best backpack carriers are unsafe for brachycephalic dogs like pugs, French bulldogs, and Boston terriers. Being held in a vertical position while traveling in a backpack (even on a short trip) can cause them to have trouble breathing, which can become life threatening. Dogs with medical issues such as anxiety, obesity, arthritis, or back problems should also not use a backpack carrier.

Can a dog sleep in a carrier overnight?

Yes, if it’s a horizontal carrier! Not only are the best pet carriers made for a dog to comfortably curl up and snooze during your trip, some models are so comfortable on the inside, they may want to keep using it as a bed if you leave it on the floor when you get home. However, your dog should not sleep overnight in a vertical carrier.

How can I help my dog feel calm inside a travel carrier?

While some dogs take to a travel carrier like fish to water, others may feel anxious about being enclosed inside of a bag or crate. The good news is that there are plenty of techniques to get a nervous dog content with staying inside of their new carrier.

Set the carrier in your home with its entry points open and leave it there for a while so your dog is used to being around the carrier. Incentivize going inside by tossing a few of their favorite treats inside. Snack hunting inside of the carrier will help to reassure a dog that it is a happy place to be.

Once they seem better about the carrier itself, try placing the dog inside the carrier for five minutes at a time with you standing beside the bag. Reward and praise them once you let them out to emphasize that the carrier isn’t so bad, and steadily increase the time they’re inside the carrier until they are trained to accept being inside it.

Make the carrier a more soothing place to be by adding a favorite blanket, toys, and other comfort items. The familiar scent and collection of beloved possessions will help them to warm up to their new carrier. Spraying the carrier with a dog calming product can also help.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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