On the Road Again: Tips for Car Rides with a Dog

Aug 4, 2022

You and your canine companion go everywhere together. The dog is dancing with excitement on your lap or hanging out of an open window during the car ride. It’s the cutest of scenes we see so often, but not without hidden risks. When arriving together safely at your destination is the objective, buckling in your dog is the best way to hit the road together.

What to Avoid and Why

  • Does your pup like to ride shotgun? Not so fast. Airbags are designed for adults. The force of an airbag deploying can cause injury to an adult, let alone an unsecured dog in the front seat. Considering simple physics, a “10-pound dog can exert 300 pounds of force in a 30-mph car accident.” An unsecured dog could easily be injured in a minor accident.
  • Is Fido roaming freely about the cabin? A study in 2019 revealed that distracted driving increased significantly when pets were allowed to roam unrestrained in a vehicle. The study also found that drivers “felt calmer when the dogs were buckled in.” So, buckle in and enjoy the ride.
  • What’s wrong with a window seat? We know how much dogs love to stick their heads out of a car window, but it’s not advisable. Debris like stones, sticks, or garbage can be kicked up from other moving vehicles with the potential to cause injury to a dog’s face, eyes, or ears. Also, an open window could result in an unexpected leap out of the car if your dog sees something interesting to pursue. Avoid injury and the cost of veterinary care by keeping your pet secured safely inside of a moving vehicle.

Safety Tips for Car Rides with a Dog

The good news is, going for a car ride together—whether it’s across town to attend dog daycare or crossing the country—can be fun and safe! The Center for Pet Safety (CPS), based in Reston, VA, offers tips for safely securing a pet while traveling in a vehicle.

  • Properly secure a dog in the back seat of the vehicle

Yes, dogs (and kids) would prefer to sit up front with a parent but for their safety and yours, the back is the best. For larger dogs, that means securing them with a harness. The best location for a smaller pet carrier is on the floor behind the driver or passenger seat.

  • Choose the right harness or carrier

Since safety is the priority, having the right equipment for a car ride is paramount. Using a long tether or the vehicle seatbelt to secure a dog or carrier is not recommended.

The CPS established a Certification Program for certifying safety harnesses, crates, and carriers in 2014. Here is a list of the products that are currently certified by the CPS for safely securing a dog (or cat) for travel in a vehicle:

Safety Harnesses

  • Sleepypod Clickit Sport
  • Sleepypod Clickit Terrain
  • ZuGoPet The Rocketeer Pack

Pet Travel Carriers

  • Away Pet Carrier
  • Diggs Passenger Carrier
  • Gunner Kennel G1 Small with Strength Rated Anchor Straps
  • Sleepypod Carriers

Travel Crates

  • Gunner Kennel G1 Small/Medium/Intermediate with Strength Rated Anchor Straps
  • Lucky Kennel Intermediate with Lucky Strength Rated Anchor Straps
  • Lucky Kennel Large with Lucky Strength Rated Anchor Straps
  • Rock Creek Crate’s Medium Aluminum with Strength Rated Anchor Straps

You love your dog, and you enjoy riding in the car together. Before you buckle up, make sure your passengers—including your best furry friend—are safely buckled in too. Hopefully, there is never an incident but accidents can happen. Securing your pet in gear that is certified for safety while riding in a car will offer the best protection from injury. Car rides with a dog are fun; making sure all passengers are safe—especially those of the 4-legged variety—is love.


Call Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center today to book your pet’s one-of-a-kind vacation at our luxury pet care facility!