How To Travel Safely With A Dog In The Car

How Do You Travel With Your Dog In The Car?

There are approximately 9 million dogs in the UK, that’s 24% of the UK adult population that own a dog. The chances are, your first car journey with your dog was the journey from the breeder (or rescue centre) to your home. From that point your dog is likely to travel in the car, with you, regularly; but have you ever thought about your dog’s safety in the car?

How does your dog travel in the car with you? In the foot well? On your lap? In the boot? On the back seat in a bed? On the back seat with a harness on? In a crate? There are so many options but do you know which ones are the safest for your dog and you?

How To Travel Safely With a Dog In The Car {PetTravel} #SafeDogTravel #DogCrate #DogTravel

Driving with dogs in the car, needs an understanding of the law, requires research on what method would be best for your dog and time to get your dog comfortable with your choice of restraint in the car.

Why Your Dog Should Be Restrained In The Car

For the driver and passenger’s safety

An unrestrained dog could distract the driver from the road, in so many ways;

  • jumping up on the back of the seat,
  • climbing onto the driver’s lap,
  • moving around in the foot well,
  • jumping up on the doors,
  • opening the windows with their paw.

Any distraction could cause an accident, if your dog is loose in the car an accident would hurl the dog forward. At just 30 mph an unrestrained Border Collie will hurl forward with a force equal to the weight of a polar bear!

For the dog’s safety

Restraining your dog will keep it safe, if you are in a car accident a dog seatbelt or crate could help prevent serious injury and stop the dog escaping, in panic, if car doors are opened.

Your Car/Pet Insurance

Have you ever checked your car insurance policy? Many insurance policies require that your dog is properly restrained in the car, therefore a free dog could break the terms of your insurance should you be in an accident, leaving you footing a large bill. Also, your pet insurance may also be invalid if they need treatment and are injured.

The Law

Do you remember the Highway Code? Do you know about Rule 57 of The Highway Code? It’s time you did.

How To Travel Safely With a Dog In The Car {PetTravel} #SafeDogTravel #DogCrate #DogTravel

Rule 56 & 57, The Highway Code

The Highway Code states;

Rule 56

“Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders.”

Rule 57

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs, or other animals, are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.

A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

It is possible that, failing to ensure your dog is restrained safely in the car could lead to a £100 on-the-spot fine, if they are seen to be distracting you.

Whilst the likelihood of an on-the-spot-fine is minimal (I’ve never heard of anyone getting a fine for this). It’s not really about the fine, it’s about ensuring that your dog is safe when travelling in the car and so minimising stress to your dog, the driver and passengers. 1 in 5 motorists admit to not restraining their dogs in the car however, I’m sure if they saw the crash test dog dummies videos, they would think twice about allowing their dog to travel unrestrained, after all you would never drive without a seat belt or not put your child in a car seat, would you?

Crash Test Dog Dummies

Yes, it’s a thing! in 2015 the Centre for Pet Safety conducted studies with dog dummies in order to test travel products for dogs. The tests included crates, harnesses, barriers and carriers. The results are interesting and scary! A very small amount of each product passed the rigorous testing. Before you read any further, head over to this article from Dogly, watch the videos and then see which products passed, there’s not many! The videos are not great to watch, especially as a dog owner and you imagine the dummy being your dog!

Here’s one of the videos…

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Gets you thinking doesn’t it?

What Made The Cut

It has made me realise that the crate we use for the dogs, whilst stopping them from roaming around the car, would not protect them if we were to have an accident.

We tried using a harness and having the dogs on the back seats, but Barney didn’t like the harness at all and couldn’t settle. When, previously, he had been fine on journey’s in a small plastic crate. We now have a bigger carrier, which Sandy and Barney travel in it together. They can lie down, move around and get comfortable, but it is not on the list of carriers/crates that are approved by the Centre for Pet Safety.




How To Travel Safely With a Dog In The Car {PetTravel} #SafeDogTravel #DogCrate #DogTravel

Making Your Dog Comfortable In The Car

It is important to get your dog used to travelling in the car, so they can feel safe and relax whilst on journey’s, as a high number of dogs suffer from motion sickness or anxiety. If this is your dog, speak to your vet and/or a dog behaviourist as they will be able to advise on what you can do to help your dog be calm on journeys.

Ensure there is good ventilation in the car for dogs, especially on warm days. Put the windows down but don’t let your dog hang out of the window! Never leave your dog alone in the car, even if you are only going to be 5 minutes.

It is a good idea not to feed your dog before going on a long journey, especially if they suffer from motion sickness! Wait until you have arrived, or give them time to digest their food before leaving.

Take regular breaks on longer journeys, give them a chance to toilet, have a drink and stretch their legs.

We always keep a few items in the car, as we never know when we will need them!

  • A bottle of water
  • A travel dog bowl
  • Spare leads
  • Dog First Aid Kit
  • Poop bags
  • Some treats
  • Towels

Whatever you choose to restrain your dog, harness, crate or barrier, if it is not fitted in the car, or to the dog, correctly, it will be useless. If you choose a harness option and your dog sits on the front passenger seat, it is important to ensure the airbag is switched off. So take the time to research what is best for you and your dog.

We all hope that we will never be in an accident but it is less of a worry if you know your dog is safe.

Let us know how your dogs travel in the car with you, did you find this helpful? Will it make you think about how your dog travels in the car, differently?

We’d love to hear from you.


Barney & Sandy x

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How To Travel Safely With a Dog In The Car {PetTravel} #SafeDogTravel #DogCrate #DogTravel




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