Travelling with dogs in cars

Most dog owners will have to transport their dog in their car at some time or another meaning that it is best to be as prepared as possible for all eventualities.

Whilst it may be habit to make sure that all humans in the car are wearing their seatbelts, it may not be as innate to check that a dog is secured in a safe way. Even though many dogs can sit or lie down on the back seat of a car during a journey, there are many that cannot, posing as a distraction to the driver by constantly moving about.

Dog and a young girl sat in a car

However, even if a dog does behave well in a car, it is still imperative to make sure that they are secure so that should the car receive a bump, jolt or worse, then they will at least have some kind of protection. An unsecured dog could be seriously injured in a car accident, with the force of a sudden movement, such as slamming on the breaks, causing them to be thrown forwards and injured by the impact of the interior of the car, or even out through the windscreen.

There are a few different products out there on the market that can help to ensure that both you and your dog are comfortable, happy and secure when travelling in a car; let’s take a look at the options available.


Dog harnesses are a popular choice when dog owners travel with their dogs in their car. They go around the dog’s neck and chest and attach to the seatbelts of the car. Most of them are also well padded so that should the harness do its job by holding the dog in place during a collision or accident, then the unexpected jerk forward will be well cushioned. Harness come in all shapes and sizes meaning that it is vital to purchase one that fits a dog well, that is snug enough to do its job but still comfortable for the dog. You can also buy specific dog-booster seats that offer both comfort and restraint. If a dog is quite happy to wear a harness and will not fidget or get tangled up, then a harness can often be a great way of keeping a dog safe in a moving car.


Another good option to help keep a dog settled and calm in a car is the use of a crate or cage. This is a great idea for those dogs that have already been crate-trained as they will quite happily sit or lie down and relax, meaning that there will be less potential for them to act as a distraction to the driver. The crate should be big enough so that the dog can stretch or sit up but still compact so that should the car suddenly come to a halt, or be involved in an accident, then the crate will not allow for the dog to be thrown around.


Dog guards are commonly seen in the vehicles of dog owners and they are fitted between the boot area and the back seats. This allows for the owner to create a den-like space for their dog to help keep them comfortable when travelling. This space also means that the dog will be less likely to distract the driver. However, if the car were to crash or be involved in an accident, then there would be slightly less protection compared to other options due to the possibility of the dog impacting into the rear window or sides of the boot.

Back of the car

With all of these options it is widely considered safer for a dog to travel in the back of a car as they are less likely to distract the driver. Which option you decide to implement will depend entirely on the size of your dog, what they are comfortable using, the size or your vehicle, the temperament of your dog and what generally works best for you both; there is no right option.


While responsible owners will always take steps to ensure their dog's safety, travelling can introduce factors such as unfamiliar locations and proximity to road traffic that can lead to your dog getting injured or falling ill – dog insurance can help you to cover the cost of veterinary treatment, helping you to provide security for them in case of the unexpected.

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