Dog-Safe Driving

By Kimberly Graf. Published on April 5, 2024

Traveling with your favorite canine companion has been a time-honored past time since the advent of cars. However, taking your pet with you safely can be a challenge, especially if you have an energetic dog or one that refuses to sit still while the car is moving. There are still safe ways to travel with your dog, and here's how.

how to keep your dog safe in a road trip

Dogs can interfere with your ability to drive without distraction, either by insisting on sitting in your lap or getting under your feet. A dog between you and the brake pedal could easily lead to an accident. Also, keep in mind that dogs hanging their head out of the window while the car is in motion are susceptible to injury from debris and objects outside of your car.

But there are few things that you can do to make the journey safe for everyone involved. A few accessories will keep your dog happy and your mind at ease, depending on your situation.

If you have a smaller dog that has a positive relationship with a crate, bring the crate along and put it in a seat. Your dog will be in a comfortable environment that he or she enjoys while still being able to ride in the car without jumping all over the place.

seatbelt for dogs

If you have a larger dog or one that doesn't like crates, you can choose to install dog seat belts in your car. These seatbelts are easy to install, aren't permanent, and attach to your dog's collar or harness. We recommend using the harness version as it reduces any strain to your dog's neck.

Next up are barriers. Barriers are either mesh or metal and can be attached between the front seats of your vehicle. This keeps your dog in the back of the car. They won't be able to crawl into your lap or distract you from the road if they can't get into the front seat. They will still be free to move around the back seat.

Keep the windows in the back up far enough that your dog won't be able to either jump or stick their head through, because it could cause panic or unnecessary injury otherwise.

Adventure Dog - Traveling with a Pup on your Roadtrip

One of the other safety items that you can buy is a seat cover for the back of your car. Some are completely enclosed – essentially a box with raised sides that you can easily move in and out of your car when need be. There are a few benefits to this type of accessory, and among them is the way that it works.

It keeps your dog from sliding around on the seat, so if your companion is perfectly found riding in the back seat, it will keep them from becoming startled or injured from sliding off the seat at a sudden stop. The raised sides also prevent smaller dogs or excitable puppies from jumping into your lap while you're driving and causing undue panic.

There is also a type of seat cover that is a basically a hammock. Your dog is enclosed on all sides, cozy, and really can't get anywhere without a monumental amount of effort. This helps you feel better about the situation, but it also helps your pooch feel a little more secure and safe on their car ride. This just might be the solution that you need for a hyperactive rider.

Dog Car Seat Cover Hammock Style

Obviously every situation is different, and every dog has their own way of riding in the car that can make it either a nice experience or a bad one. These options give you multiple ways to keep your dog confined and help your trip go a little better.

But that's not all that there is to dog-safe driving. There are a couple of things that you should know before you pack your pooch up to go with you.

First off, and perhaps most importantly: do not leave your dog locked up in the car with no ventilation when you go into a store. Unless it's winter time and it's too cold to do so, you should always have your windows cracked if it's breezy and NEVER leave your dog in a car on hot days.

Dog looking sad in the back of a car

Heat inside of a parked car can rise to over a hundred degrees, even in milder climates. The higher the temperature gets, the hotter your dog feels, and there is only so much heat that your pets can take before it becomes serious. This could be considered animal cruelty, and there are more than a few helpful citizens out there that are more than willing to call the police if they see such a thing.

Always remember to take water and somewhere to drink it from with you on your trip. Dogs need water just as much - if not more – than we do. If you're stopping to get a drink, you should offer your dog one as well. It's only polite, and your dog will be much happier with you.

Treats are also a good way to help your pup feel great, so make sure on longer rides you are giving your pooch plenty of attention and treats.

Taking just a bit more precaution about driving with our furry companions can make a huge difference in safety, so make sure that you're abiding by a few of these rules to keep everyone safe and happy.


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