7 Easy Ways to Keep your Dog Safe in the Car

Dog sat in the driver's seat of a car

Updated on February 20th, 2019

If you drive with your dog unrestrained then it’s a danger not only to you and your pet but to other road users too. Dogs can be unpredictable; the last thing you need when you’re driving is a dog jumping around in the car or trying to get on your lap.

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UK rules & laws about dogs in cars

The Highway Code in the UK states the following:

When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.

If you fail to restrain your dog in the car then you could receive a £100 on-the-spot fine for being distracted whilst driving. If you fail to pay this then you could end up being taken to court and a fine of up to £5,000.

How to keep your dog safe in the car

Here are my top pick of products to help keep your dog safe in the car:

1) Doggie seat belts

These dog seat belts work best if your dog wears a harness rather than just a collar. We used to attach these to our dog’s collars but found that if the car braked suddenly then the belts would pull on the dogs’ necks and cause them to jolt about which was uncomfortable for them and possibly a danger in itself.

Mudder Dog Seat Belt, Dog Cat Car Safety Seat Belt Harness Adjustable Leads Harness for Cars Vehicle, 2 Pack
  • Keep your pet safely restrained and allows your pet to sit, stand or lie down comfortably in a car without distracting the driver
  • Adjustable Length: 19 inch - 29.5 inch, Seat Belt Buckle Width: 0.8 inch; Seat Belt Buckle Length 2.4 inch; Please check your buckle's size and compatibility before purchase
  • Polypropylene strap, zinc alloy swivel snap and metal buckles provides durability
  • Hassle-free seatbelt clip designed to latch into your car with ease
  • Package includes: 2 pack pet seatbelt

They were also a bit long for our small dogs so they could still jump into the footwells but then they found it difficult to jump back onto the seats due to the limited movement allowed by the seat belts.

When these seat belts are clipped on to the back of a harness instead of a lead they seem to offer more protection and don’t pull on the dogs’ necks.

2) Car harness for dogs

If your dog doesn’t have a harness then you can buy car-specific harnesses with in-built seatbelt attachments.

COA CarSafe, Medium
  • The patented COA CarSafe Harness provides comfort for the dog, both in the car and whilst walking.
  • It is extremely strong, secure and safe as it is made from safety-standard seat-belt material.
  • Extremely comfortable, padded material, featuring a unique 'X-Cross' design for strength and security.
  • Easy to fit and use - just plug directly into your seat-belt socket (not suitable for Volvo or Saab cars) or slide the existing seat belt through the loops in the harness handle.
  • Can also be used as an extremely comfortable walking harness.

Be sure to check the measurements so that you buy the right size. Too big and your dog may be able to wriggle out of the harness; too small and it will be uncomfortable to wear.

One of the great features of this car harness is that it’s made from safety-standard seatbelt material which makes it really strong and safe.

3) Dog hammock

I’ve had my eye on one of these for a while and it’s finally made its way into my shopping basket.

X-Large Dog Seat Cover-Heavy Duty & Waterproof, Machine Washable, with A Safety Seat Belt and Carry Bag,Dog Hammock(152 x 147 cm )
  • 【Made from Superior Materials】-- Unlike others, our dog seat cover is thicker.Our dog hammocks are manufactured from the highest quality, durable, waterproof fabric to provide our customers with a product that not only protects but will last for many years.
  • 【Heavy Duty Anchor Point & Safety in Mind】--Our seat covers have three design features to prevent any movement, firstly there are heavy duty, adjustable, quick release straps which attach the cover to the headrests. Secondly it has large anchor points that fit in between the seat base and back which locks the seat cover in place and thirdly a rubber coating has been applied to prevent the cover from slipping.
  • 【Easy to Install】--Quick release clips on the reinforced headrest straps make install a breeze. You can even make it into a HAMMOCK to help your dog feel safe and secure.
  • 【X-Large Size】--152 x 147cm /60 x 58 inches can fits any cars and SUVs-Large or small, and perfect for small medium large dogs breeds.
  • 【Best Solution for Traveling】--Packed with a beautiful reusable storage bag. With dogs, cats, kids or any other furry friend, against biggest or rowdiest pet's claws, paws, spills, hair, dripping water and dander, a must for individuals with leather seats.

One of my dogs gets bored on car journeys and tries to jump into the footwells of the back seats. He is restrained by a car harness which prevents him from doing this, but… being a stubborn Shih Tzu… he still tries, and can sometimes manage to slip down in the gap despite the harness.

This dog hammock looks like it will solve that problem and create a much safer environment in the car.

It hooks over the headrests of the front seats to create a hammock inside the car so that there is no risk of a dog falling into the footwell.

It’s made from wipe-clean, non-slip and heavy duty material so it should be easy to clean when it gets covered in footprints after a muddy walk!

4) Pet booster seat

If you have a small dog then a pet booster seat is a good option for keeping your dog safe in the car.

The strap goes around the back of the seat’s headrest and then your dog is contained in the carrier space.

Pet Car Booster Seat Breathable Waterproof Pet Dog Car Supplies Travel Pet Car Carrier Bag Seat Protector Cover with Safety Leash for Small Dogs Cats Puppy
  • The Pet Car Seat is a great and safe way to take your Pet with you on the road.
  • Installs quickly and easily and with the included safety tether it helps to alleviate the worry of loosing your pets in your car while driving
  • Built-in adjustable straps make for installation in almost any vehicle a breeze;
  • A zippered front compartment makes for a convenient place to store treats or toys and a padded seating area provides a comfortable ride;
  • Made of high quality waterproof 600D oxford material

The box creates a lovely little bed for your dog to curl up in and go to sleep. They’ll feel safe and secure in the space as they won’t slip about when you go round corners or roundabouts.

If you have more than one dog then this product is also great for keeping them separated so that they have their own space.

5) Safety net barrier

Do you ever get an inquisitive dog nose poke against your arm whilst you’re driving? This can be very distracting and possibly dangerous.

FREESOO Car Pet Barrier Safety Net for Dog, Vehicle Universal Mesh Fence Safety Barrier Durable Travel Blocks Dogs Access To Car Front Seats
  • Durable and anti-bite. Make of High quality mesh fabric. Not easy to tearing but easy to clean.
  • Mesh design, breathable, ventilated and visible.You can see the rear seat clearly.
  • Easy to fit. With plastic buckles on rear seat for easy on/off. This car net barrier come with 2 adjustable bands and 4 hook. You can install it in few second. If you don't know how to fit it, please contact us.
  • Light weight, foldable and space-saving, small size could be stored in a car properly. Size: 115 * 62cm
  • Creates a barrier between front & back car seats to prevent distraction while driving. Suitable for all the car, vans, SUVs and trucks.

This safety net barrier clips on to the front seats to create a mesh barrier between the front and back sets.

I like the fact that it has holes in it so that your dog can still see you and be reassured that you are still close by.

The durable material is designed to be easy to clean and difficult to tear, making it long-lasting and hard-wearing for your car.

6) Car boot barrier

If you travel with your dog in the boot of your car then you’ll need a way of preventing them from jumping into the back seats.

The most common way to do this is with a metal car boot barrier, often called a dog guard.

XtremeAuto Durable Universal Deluxe Heavy Duty Dog Guard Pet Car Barrier Cage Mesh Head Rest Pet Dog Guard
  • Attaches to vehicles headrests, height & width adjustable, suitable for most hatchbacks, SUV, MPV, Jeeps, estates and 4x4s
  • Quick & Easy To Fit, Provides essential COMFORT for both driver & pETS, Acts as a Barrier to keep your dog in the Boot
  • Fits Years: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, Universal Fit On MK1, MK2, MK3, MK4, MK5, MK6, MK7 Hatchback, Saloon, Estate, SUV, MPV
  • Ideal Christmas or Birthday Treat Gift TAXI Present for the Cleaning, Dog Lover, in the Family, Man, Boy Racer, Boyfriend, Father, Dad, Brother, Daddy DAY, Granda, Mother, Mum, Sister, Girl, Granny, Wife or Girlfriend.

You could buy a specialist dog guard specifically built for your make and model of vehicle. This can be expensive and if you ever change your car you’ll have to buy another one. If you do decide to get a custom dog guard then Barjo are a fabulous British company that produce car-specific dog guards.

A more affordable option is to buy a barrier that’s built to fit lots of different vehicles. If you’re thinking of buying a dog guard, be sure to check the product description to make sure it will fit your car.

Car boot barriers are usually fairly simple to fit; you may not even need any tools to complete the installation.

7) Pet ramp

The final item on this list of dog car safety products is one for keeping your dog safe before and after the journey rather than during it.

Trixie Pet Ramp, Black, 40 × 156 cm
  • plastic anti-slip coating protects the joints of the pet highly recommendable in cases of arthrosis and arthritis
  • can also be used for preventative measures collapsible
  • weight 4.5 kg universal use easy to clean

It’s a big old jump to get into a car and as your dog gets older they may find it difficult to manage. This isn’t so much of an issue with smaller dogs that you can pick up and place in the car, but it’s not very practical to pick up a Labrador, staffie or St Bernard to get them in the car!

This foldable dog ramp will let your dog get in and out of your vehicle with ease. Using a car ramp helps to protect your dog’s leg joints and makes entering and exiting the car an enjoyable experience rather than a painful one.