Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car
Most people wouldn't let their kids or themselves ride in a car without
the safety of a seat-belt, but it's still common to see dogs unrestrained
in the car. Dogs have just as much chance of being injured or even killed
in case of an accident - and they can also injure the driver or passengers
too. Dogs need to be safely restrained, just as much
as we do. In some places it's even the law!
Car safety for dogs
is important for everyone who travels with their dog.
Why secure your dog in the car?
- Unrestrained pets can distract the driver and cause an accident.
We've all seen dogs frantically running from side to side or front
to back in the car ... or dogs who are licking the driver, trying
to get into the front seat, or barking in the driver's ear.
Distracted driving can easily lead to an accident.
- A loose dog can be ejected from car during an accident or
sudden stop. Dogs can become 'catapults', and get thrown through
the windshield, or even over the seat and collide with the the driver
or passengers. This can cause serious injury to both the dog and the
- A loose dog may escape in case of accident. They may
escape through a broken windshield or through a window or door
that popped open during the accident... and a scared dog will
often run and become lost, sometimes running through traffic
and endangering other drivers.
- An restrained dog can become a threat to rescue workers.
It's frightening when an accident occurs, and frigtened dogs
may bite or threaten rescue workers who are only trying to help.
- Other items in the car could injure the dog. During
an accident or even something as simple as a sudden stop, loose
items in the car may become airborne and end up injuring the dog
Options for Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car
- Kennel or crate. A well-made, hard-sided
kennel or travel
crate is a great way to secure a dog in the car. It should be roomy
enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Lots of
ventilation will help to keep your dog comfortable, as will some
Kennels and crates offer good protection from flying objects
in the car (eg. as a result of sudden stops or accidents), and
will also prevent your dog from becoming a dangerous projectile.
A securely latched kennel door will prevent the dog from escaping
just in case the car door pops open in an accident. And of course,
a crate will stop a dog from running around the vehicle and
distracting the driver.
Soft-sided travel crates
can also be used although they obviously don't offer the same level of protection as a
Kennels and crates can also be tied down in the vehicle
for extra security.
- Seat-belt / safety harness. There are many different
styles and brands of seatbelts
and safety harnesses for dogs. The harness includes a loop at the back or some other mechanism
through which you can thread the strap from the car's seatbelt.
The car seatbelt is clicked into place like usual, and thus the
dog is secured in place.
Dog seat-belts are made to work with nearly any type of
car seat-belt. They are easy and convenient to use and many
different styles are available. Look for wide straps and/or
padded chest pieces for more comfort. Ideally, the tether
- the piece that's attached to the car's seatbelt - is short
so that the dog can't be propelled too far forward in case
of a sudden stop or accident.
- Dog booster seat. For small dogs, the car seat /
booster seat allows them to see out the window while providing
some safety features. Look for a dog
car seat that clicks into your car's existing seat-belt, while also providing an
additional harness for the dog. This is basically a modified
seat-belt / safety harness for small dogs and has the same
- The dog barrier. These are
barriers that are
installed between the front and back seats, or between
the back seats and the cargo area of a vehicle. They
help to prevent dogs from catapulting over into the front
seat, but dogs can still escape out of the vehicle if the
back door opens during an accident. It's still preferable
to use a crate or safety harness if possible.
Barriers also help to stop dogs from climbing into the
front seat and distracting the driver.
Leashes should never be clipped into a dog's collar
and then into the car's seat-belt - a sudden stop or accident
can cause the dog to choke. Always use a harness.
And finally, remember to make sure that your dog is wearing up-to-date
just in case.
Some dogs will need time to get used to being restrained
while traveling. That's okay. Take it slow and keep the
experience positive. Keeping them safe in the car is the
"Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food
and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners
of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water
and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods."