How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

Girl hugging dog in car

For a dog, nothing is more exciting than a ride in the car! However, having your dog in the car with you can cause a number of safety issues, no matter how long or short the journey may be. When you do take Fido for a ride make sure your pooch is properly secured, for both your safety and his.

Get your dog acclimated with your vehicle

The best way to keep your pup calm and well-behaved in the car is to familiarize them with it. Start by having your dog sit in the car while it’s parked in the driveway to get them acclimated with the vehicle itself. After your dog is able to sit nicely in a non-moving vehicle, do a lap or two around the block, to further familiarize them with the idea of travelling—even if it’s just a short distance.

Helpful products for your vehicle

All dogs should be confined while riding in the car for their safety and the safety of the driver and passengers. Driving with a pet on your lap is a ticketable offense in many states, not to mention a huge hazard. According to a 2011 AAA study regarding driving with a dog in the car:

Similar to a young child, the front airbag system in a vehicle can be deadly to a dog sitting in the front seat during a crash, even if restrained.

An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force.

To prevent injuries to your pup or your vehicle’s occupants, there are a couple of products you should consider investing in:


For vehicles that have larger backseat areas or a hatchback, vehicle pet barriers are a great option. Most barriers can be easily installed in your vehicle—no matter the make or model—to prevent your dog from bounding over seats and distracting the driver.


Far and away the best option for keeping your dog safe in the car is a pet carrier or crate. A crate in the back seat or hatchback will limit a dog’s mobility, keeping them safer in the event of an impact. Much like a seatbelt will keep you from being thrown from the car, a crate will keep your dog safe should your vehicle hit something or be hit by something.

Also, in the event of a crash where doors open, a carrier/crate will prevent your frightened pooch from escaping. It’ll also prevent the dog from interfering with emergency personnel if the situation arises.

Alternatively, these carriers/crates are also ideal for dogs that are fearful of car rides. Having a confined space that’s comfortable and familiar—complete with a blanket and a chew toy—can help keep an anxious dog at ease during a trip.

Pet ramps

Sometimes your dog might need help getting up and into the car. If your vehicle has a high clearance and your pooch is on the smaller side, you might consider a convenient pet ramp instead of picking them up. Also, if your dog and its joints are getting on in years, a simple ramp can take the strain off of having them jump or climb into the vehicle by themselves. Be sure to take a look at Discount Ramps’ convenient guide to picking the right pet ramp before you make a purchase!

Tips to keep your pooch safe

There’s more to keeping your dog safe in the car than just simply having a space for them to enjoy. Take a look at a few more tips that can benefit both driver and dog, especially if your pup is well-behaved enough to enjoy time spent in a car without being confined:

  • Turn off power windows: It’s easy for a dog to accidently step on a power window switch, resulting in either an open window to escape from or a potential choking hazard from a window raised on its neck. Disable your power windows by locking them either shut or slightly open to avoid this issue.
  • Do not let your dog stick its head out the window: When your dog’s head is hanging out the window it’s exposed to any debris that might be flying in the other direction. Dirt, dust, and pebbles can cause facial and eye injuries for a dog, even at low speeds! Ear damage is also a concern if your pup has floppier ears—high wind speeds can cause repeated swelling and nerve damage over time.
  • Don’t let your dog ride in the bed of your truck: This is another big no-no! There’s absolutely no protection in the bed of your truck for your dog, leaving them exposed to high winds and the elements. Never travel with your dog in the bed of your truck!

Whether a car ride is a rare treat for your dog or they’re used to bounding into the backseat for a road trip, it’s a smart idea to make sure your pooch knows the rules of the road. Consider any of the above vehicle pet products and tips to make sure both you and your dog are safe out on the road!

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