Have you been thinking about getting into a car with your dog? Whether it’s just a short trip to the store or a fun road trip with your best furry friend, you must consider its safety first.

While many pet owners will say that they cannot imagine their trips without taking their canine friends with them, the truth is unrestrained dogs in vehicles can be hazardous for everyone.

That’s why planning ahead is essential, and by following these guidelines, you’ll have peace of mind that your dog is secured and protected, allowing you both to enjoy your travels together fully.

We will underscore the critical need to secure dogs in vehicles and cover essential aspects, including the potential hazards of unrestrained dogs, the importance of proper restraint, and the various reliable options available. Practical advice will be provided on securing dogs in the car, such as choosing suitable restraints based on size, positioning them in the back seat, and managing loose items. Also, stress the importance of testing restraints for secure installation and safety. Additional safety measures, like temperature control and planning for breaks, will be included. So, what are you waiting for to learn more about safe and happy car travel with your four legged friend?

The Need for Dog Car Safety

While the idea of cruising down meandering country roads with your dog happily sticking their head out the window is appealing, it’s not worth the risk of injury or worse for your puppy.

Before heading out on your next adventure, ensure you’ve taken the necessary precautions to keep your dog safe in the car.

An unrestrained dog can:

  • Interfere with driving
  • Get injured if they fall or are thrown from the car or
  • Escape an open window or door

What’s more, these practices are also required by law in some states, while others have proposals in progress. So, follow these rules to avoid being considered to be driving without expected care and attention.

Properly securing your dog may take some getting used to for both of you, so be sure to test different dog car restraint options with short drives first. Give lots of praise and treats to help your dog associate the restraint with positive experiences.

Regularly securing your dog in the car can become second nature for safe and enjoyable rides together.

Reliable Dog Car Restraints

The easiest way to secure your dog in the car is with a dog safety seat belt or harness specifically designed for use in the car. These connect to the car’s seat belt or latch system and keep your dog in place.

Avoid loose harnesses, leashes, and collars, which offer little protection and can even pose a strangulation hazard.

The potential dangers of unrestrained dogs during a car journey are real, as they can be seriously injured or even ejected in an accident. Poorly designed or untested pet restraints can be extremely dangerous for your dog. Untested products may seem comfortable, but their safety is unproven.

Types of Dog Car Restraints

Regarding restraining your dog in the car, you have several acceptable options. Your choice should be based on your dog’s size and temperament.


A harness is a safe and comfortable choice for smaller dogs. Look for a harness specifically designed for car travel, with adjustable belts and buckles that clip into your seat belt for protection. Some popular brands of dog harnesses include Dogline, Voyager, and Sleepypod.

Seat Belts

Dog seat belts are best for medium to large dogs. They attach directly to your dog’s collar and clip into your seat belt buckle. Make sure any seat belt you pick has been crash-tested. Some popular seat belts include Cooyoo and Bwogue.


A crate may be the safest option for anxious or energetic dogs. Look for a sturdy crate designed for vehicle travel that can be secured to the seats or floor of your vehicle. The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand, sit, and turn around but not too large that it won’t stay in place during driving or a crash. Some safe options include Gunner or Dakota G3

If you want to know more about soft crates for dogs, don’t forget to check out our article All You Need to Know About Soft Dog Crates

How to Secure Your Dog

To ensure pet-friendly car rides and adequately secure your furry friends, follow these steps:

  1. Choose an appropriate restraint for your dog’s size and weight.
  2. Place the restraint in an area of the car that allows your dog to stand, sit, and lie down comfortably without blocking air vents. The safest spot is usually the back seat.
  1. Follow the instructions to secure the restraint to the vehicle properly. Most harnesses will attach to the seat belt buckle or latch bars. Ensure all straps and attachments are snug while allowing your dog to move freely.
  2. Once you buckle your dog into the harness, make sure you are able to slide two fingers between the strap and your dog’s body.
  3. Double-check that the restraint is securely installed before starting the car.
  4. When you start driving, occasionally check on your dog to ensure the restraint remains adequately secured and fitted.
  5. Since it may take a while for some dogs to get accustomed to riding in a restraint, provide them some practice and have patience before you embark on an adventure with them. Start by taking short trips, and don’t forget to give your pet positive reinforcement and treats.

Additional Safety Measures

Control temperature

Even if you keep the windows open, dogs can overheat quickly in warm weather. To keep the temperature comfortable for your canine friend, run the air conditioning and provide fresh, cold water to prevent overheating and dehydration.

Place the car seat properly

Your dog’s car seat should raise your dog up so they can see out the window, which will also help reduce motion sickness of your 4 legged friend.

Create a comfortable environment for your pet

  1. Try to keep as calm as possible.
  2. Reassure your furry friends, and give them praise and treats.
  3. Remember that your own stress and anxiety can affect your dog too. So, remain confident and help keep them relaxed for a safe trip.

Plan for breaks

Factor in time for exercise breaks, potty breaks, food, and water. Bring supplies to clean any accidents, plastic bags, wipes, paper towels, and cleaning spray.

dog staying peaceful in a car trunk on a blanket

The Importance of Testing

Before hitting the road, the most crucial thing to do is test any dog car restraint. To test it, secure the restraint in your car as directed, then give it a good, firm tug to ensure it’s properly installed and won’t come loose.

To achieve dog car safety, you should only use harnesses that have been designed and tested to high standards. They should undergo rigorous testing and receive certification stating that they can adequately restrain a dog in the event of a collision.

Avoid any product not explicitly meant for vehicle use, as these could quickly fail or even strangle your dog.

Car-Safety Tips for Driving With Your Dog

These are some practical pet travel safety tips to follow to ensure safe and happy road trips with your dogs:

  1. Secure your dog correctly using carriers, crates, or dog seat belts. Crates and carriers should be strapped down, while seat belts should be appropriately fitted to their harness.
  2. Have your dog ride in the backseat, as it’s the safest spot for the pets in case of an accident.
  3. Ensure any loose items, including bags, leashes, and toys, are secured so they don’t distract or injure your dog during sudden braking or a crush.
  4. In addition to a collar ID tag, consider getting your dog a separate ID tag to wear specifically during car travel in case they run off at a rest stop.
  5. Don’t leave your dog alone in a car. The temperature can rise quickly and overheat your dog even on a warm day.
  6. Use frequent stops if your dog needs to drink water, take potty breaks, or stretch out.
  7. Don’t try to feed the dog just before the trip. Feeding before will help to get motion sickness faster.

FAQs About Dog Car Safety

What is the safest position for a dog in a car?

The safest position for a dog in a car is typically the back seat. Using a dog seat belt or harness to secure them in this area helps prevent interference with the driver, reduces the risk of injury during sudden stops or accidents, and minimizes the likelihood of escape. The following images can be the worst 2 examples of dog car safety.

  • labrador retriever sitting between owners legs in front seat
  • very big dog sitting in front seat
What is the best car safety for dogs?

The best car safety for dogs often involves using specialized restraints, such as dog seat belts or harnesses, designed for use in vehicles. These restraints secure your dog in place and help prevent interference with driving, injuries, or escapes during travel.

What is the best way to protect your dog in the car?

The best way to protect your dog in the car is to use appropriate restraints, such as dog seat belts, harnesses, or crates. These restraints should be chosen based on your dog’s size and temperament. Securing them in the back seat is generally considered the safest position, and it’s crucial to follow proper installation instructions.

Are dogs OK in the car?

Yes, dogs can be okay in the car if proper safety measures are taken. Using restraints designed for car travel ensures their safety and the safety of passengers. Adequate planning for breaks, hydration, and creating a comfortable environment can make car journeys enjoyable for dogs.

Why you should never leave your dog in the car?

Leaving a dog in the car, especially in warm weather, can lead to overheating, dehydration, and potentially fatal heatstroke. Cars can heat up rapidly, even with windows cracked open. It’s essential to avoid leaving dogs unattended in vehicles to ensure their well-being.

Do dogs like to sit in the car?

Many dogs enjoy sitting in the car, especially if they associate car rides with positive experiences. However, individual preferences may vary, and some dogs may feel anxious or stressed during car travel. Proper acclimatization, positive reinforcement, and creating a comfortable environment can help make car rides enjoyable for most dogs.


Luckily, many dogs love to travel; however, the whole trip can be very stressful for both you and your dog if you aren’t adequately prepared for safe travel with dogs.

Their life is in your hands, so remember to invest in high-quality restraints, properly secure them in your car, and follow some fundamental safety tips.

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