Essential Dog Car Safety Tips

Essential Dog Car Safety Tips

Hitting the road with your furry best friend in the backseat can be one of life’s great joys, but it’s not all about the wind in their fur and slobbery smiles. Ensuring our dogs are safe during car travel is as crucial as the journey itself.

We’re here to walk you through some essential tips and strategies to make every car ride with your pet as safe as possible – so that you can focus on having fun, and not on keeping your dog under control.

Understanding the Risks

Firstly, let’s take a look at the potential dangers of car travel for dogs. Our dogs are pretty resilient, both mentally and physically. But on the road there are real risks of accidents, anxiety, and health issues.

Just like humans, dogs can suffer injuries from abrupt stops or collisions. Car sickness is a real possibility (and cleaning up while on the move is no fun). Let’s not forget the anxiety factor, either – some dogs turn into a furry bundle of nerves once the engine revs.

Recognizing signs of distress, like excessive panting, whining, or trembling, is crucial. These are your dog’s ways of saying, “Hey hooman, something’s up!”

Preparation and Precautions

Now, onto gearing up for a ride. The key is to start young and start slow. Acclimating dogs to car travel early on can make all the difference between a carefree cruiser and a petrified pooch. Before you even start the engine, let them sit in the car, sniff around, and claim their spot.

Once they’re used to the car as a non-moving sanctuary, short, fun trips can gradually turn car rides into positive experiences. And don’t forget your doggy travel kit! Water, snacks, their favourite chew toy, and perhaps a cosy blanket to snuggle into can make the car feel like a home away from home.

Safety Equipment and Gear

Strapping in is as important for our dogs as it is for us. There’s a whole world of options: harnesses, carriers, barriers – no matter what dog breed you have, you should be able to get your dog nice and cosy in your car.

Harnesses are a top choice for many. They come in various sizes and styles, designed to keep your dog secure yet comfortable. When choosing a harness, look for one that’s crash-tested and has a snug fit without being restrictive. Remember, a loose harness is as good as none in the event of a sudden stop.

Carriers are another popular option, especially for smaller dog breeds like the Cocker Spaniel or Yorkie. It’s their little safe space. But don’t just plop any old box in the backseat; carriers should be well-ventilated, secure, and size-appropriate. For the anxious travellers, covering the carrier with a light blanket can reduce stress, making the car seem less scary.

Barriers, usually used in larger vehicles like SUVs, create a designated doggy zone. They’re particularly good for larger breeds that need room to stretch. But ensure they’re sturdy and properly installed – no one wants a surprise visit from a 50-pound Border Collie with the zoomies mid-drive!

Behavioral Tips and Comfort Measures

Anxiety in cars is no joke for dogs. Bringing along a favourite toy or a blanket that smells like home can provide comfort. Soft, soothing music or an audiobook can also work wonders for jittery nerves.

And always remember: breaks, breaks, breaks! Just like us, dogs need to stretch their legs and have a potty break. Regular stops can turn a dreaded journey into an adventure. And remember, no matter how quick the errand, never leave your dog alone in a car, especially on particularly hot or cold days. It’s not just unsafe – it can be deadly.

Start with short trips to fun places – like a quick drive to the dog park or a friend’s house. Each positive experience will help your dog grow more confident in taking rides with you.

During the ride, talk to your dog in a calm and soothing voice. Your calm demeanour can reassure them that everything’s A-OK. And those familiar items we talked about earlier? They’re not just comfort objects; they’re a piece of home on the move, providing a sense of security and familiarity.

Consider natural remedies or consult your vet for solutions if your dog experiences severe anxiety. Sometimes a little extra help is needed to keep them calm and happy.

Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Did you know many places have specific regulations about transporting pets? It’s not just about safety; it’s the law. Secure your dog according to local guidelines to avoid fines or worse, accidents. And when planning longer journeys, think ahead for pet-friendly accommodations and know where the nearest vet is, just in case of emergencies. It’s all about being prepared.

Planning for Long Journeys

When prepping for a long haul, think of everything your dog might need. Pack enough food, water, their favourite toys, and any medications they require. Plan your route with pet-friendly rest stops and consider booking pet-friendly hotels in advance. And always keep your dog’s health records and any necessary paperwork handy, especially if you’re travelling across state lines or even into a different country.


We’ve covered a lot, but remember, ensuring the safety and comfort of your dog during car travel is an ongoing journey. Stay updated on best practices, remember to keep an eye on your dog’s comfort and safety, and never underestimate the value of a well-timed break to give your pooch a chance to run around. Safe travels, fellow dog lovers!