As man's best friend, most dogs love being part of the action! If your dog is anything like mine, as soon as she sees me grab the car keys, she tails me until she is safely in the car seat. The challenge has been finding ways to travel safely with her. Not only can an unrestrained dog be a potential distraction, but in the event of an car accident, they can be severely injured and/or become a projectile that can cause cause serious injury to the driver or passengers.

When trying to decide what the best restraint or safety system to use, there is a lot of contradictory information regarding where your four legged friend should sit, how he should be secured, etc. Fortunately, car safety for pets isn’t as complicated as it seems and depending on how you plan to travel, safety considerations can be very simple.

Car Safety with Dogs

Traveling with a pet in a car is by far the most common method. Some dogs travel go everywhere with their owners while others remain home bound until a trip to the vet or a vacation. When planning to travel with your 4-legged friend in a car, you’ll want to first protect the car.  Installing a car seat cover can provide a comfortable place for your pet while protecting your car from claws, dirt and hair. Some car seat covers even connect to the driver and passenger seats to form a protective barrier that keeps your pooch safely secured in the back seat.

Bowers car seat covers

Front car seat cover by Bowsers

Your next consideration should be where the dog will be traveling. Knowing where they will primarily be sitting will help you choose the best safety options. For instance, many dogs like to sit in the front seat. A dog crate, while a safe way to travel with your dog, is not really an option in that case. A dog seat belt or a harness that can attach on to the seatbelt is the best option.

If you have a small dog, a dog booster seat not only boosts your dog up to where they can see, but they also generally come with a way to attach your pet's harness to it.

dog booster seat


A dog crate is a good option if you have the space and your pet will primarily be in the back seat or the cargo area of your vehicle or truck. Of course, dog crates don’t fit in all styles of vehicles and many animals prefer the ability to sit and stretch during long car rides. For these reasons, having a good strong harness and seat belt on hand, will give you the most versatility. The seatbelt connects to a comfortable harness that keeps your dog secure in the event of an accident. Seatbelts also prevent your dog from climbing into the front seat.

Safety Options for Other Types of Travel:

For animals traveling by air or train, a crate is usually required. Check with your airline or rail provider to get specifics on dimensions and construction. When purchasing a crate, look for one that is hard, sturdy and labeled airline approved. These crates can withstand the rough handling that may occur at an airport.

Before you travel, check with your vet about getting a sedative for your pet to make their ride more comfortable and be sure you have your done your research to make sure the airline or rail provider you are using has a good safety record for transporting animals.

Once you arrive at your destination, your dog will need somewhere to sleep. Travel dog beds can provide the comforts of home even on the go. Typically, travel dog beds are thinner than normal dog beds. For this reason, you may want to bring a blanket or extra layer of padding that smells like home.

When traveling with your pet, consider their safety and comfort both while traveling and when you reach your destination. Most safety considerations aren’t difficult to comply to and in the event of an accident, a simple seatbelt or crate could save your dogs life.