Safe Car Travel with your Dog

(IMAGE: Orvis)

We all know how important it is to travel safely in a car, and to wear a seat belt.

But what about when you take your dog along for the ride? Do you make sure he is as safe as possible too?

In most instances, dogs enjoy car travel and going on all kinds of “adventures” with their human family members. It’s not simply a matter of putting your dog in the car and driving away, however. Dogs need to be kept safe, family members need to be kept safe, and so does the general public.

What to Bring with You:

  • Make sure your dog is always wearing his collar and ID tag. He should also be micro-chipped (with information attached to the chip being up to date). You will also need to bring your dog’s lead.


  • Food/water bowls, water, and some food or snacks, depending on how long you’ll be away from home.


  • Old washcloths for wiping muddy feet.


  • Waste disposal baggies – for essential cleanups.


Safe Travel:

We all recognise the image of a joyful dog travelling along with his head hanging out an open window. It’s not a safe way to travel, though – for the dog or anyone else. Dogs should never be allowed or able to roam free within a moving car – unrestrained dogs can cause accidents, and can certainly be killed in an accident.

Ideal safety is afforded by using a dog crate that is big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. Yet he shouldn’t be able to move too much. It also needs to be of sound and strong structure, securely fastened in place, and be very well ventilated.

Alternatively, a barrier that can securely attach to the interior framework of your car and is strong enough to restrain your dog in an accident is an option.

Or you may opt for a size and weight appropriate harness that fastens to a seat belt to secure your dog on a seat.

If you have a ute or similar and the dog is on the back, it’s really important to use a crate. An unrestrained dog can jump off, or will certainly be killed in an accident. Chaining a dog on the back may stop him from running away, but it won’t protect him in a collision or worse.

  • Never put a dog on the back of a ute in the hot sun – he and his feet will burn.
  • Never leave a dog in a car in the sun, even with an open window.

Take Travel Breaks:

Make frequent stops on your trip for water, potty, and general wellbeing. Dogs will love to stretch their legs and have a break. Note that some dogs suffer from motion sickness and anxiety – if this is the case, then see your vet for a remedy.

Just like dog walking is part of being a loving and responsible dog owner, so too is travelling in the car safely with your dog.


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