Tips for Driving With Your Dog

Make sure your dog is safe by using a crate or safety harness and make car rides less stressful by taking your dog to fun locations.
Written by Olivia Rose
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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Use a crate or safety harness and make the ride rewarding to keep your dog happy and safe in your vehicle.
You’ll also need to make sure you have good
car insurance
coverage (whether you’re driving with or without your furry friend). The insurance comparison and broker app
has all you need to find the lowest rates for the best policies—and it’s 100% free to use.
But what if your dog just hates the car, or you're especially concerned about their safety? Read on to learn some tips for driving with your dog.
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Use a crate to keep your dog safe

A crate is the safest method for car travel with your dog. We get it—there’s something so whimsical and cinematic about throwing your retriever in the back of a pickup truck for a windy ride through the mountains to a nearby lake.
We hate to break it to you, but you should never do that.
If you love your dog, we trust that you want what’s best (and safest) for your good boy. Luckily, dogs can be crate-trained—they’ll actually learn to love it! You’ll want to secure the crate in your car so it doesn’t slide around.
If your dog is too big to fit in a crate in your car, you can consider a safety harness. Dog safety harnesses attach to seats, kind of like a seat belt for your pup.

Benefits of using a crate or safety harness

The benefits of using these safety measures far outweigh the discomfort you may feel by looking less cool with your dog in the car.
If you’re used to riding with your dog without any restraints, a crate or safety harness might seem a bit...dramatic. But rest assured that you are doing what is best for your furry friend.
Using a crate or safety harness will:
  • Prevent your dog from hitting the windshield in a car collision.
  • Prevent your dog from flying around and hitting you or a passenger in a car collision.
  • Prevent your dog from flying out of the vehicle in a car collision and getting injured by oncoming cars or causing a pileup in the road.

What if my dog’s crate won’t fit in my car?

No matter what, don’t let your dog ride in the passenger seat if the back seat or trunk is available.
So let’s say you drive a 2-seater sports car. You might not have a trunk or backseat space to fit a crate for your dog. Airbags can pose a huge safety risk for dogs, especially smaller ones. If you have no other options, secure a crate into the passenger seat and turn off your airbags.
Make sure you know the laws about driving with pets for wherever you’re driving—they will vary from state to state.
If you travel with your dog often and don't want to keep loading and unloading crates, you might consider getting a
dog car seat
to keep in your car. They attach to your seat and will keep your dog secure, but aren't quite as bulky as crates.
Key Takeaway Use a secured crate to drive with your dog. If your car can’t fit a crate, use a safety harness for your dog. Never let your dog sit in the passenger seat with airbags on as they pose a huge safety risk.
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Make the drive fun for your dog

If your dog knows there’s something fun at the end of their ride—like a day of play at the beach or the dog park—they’ll learn to be more excited and less stressed about riding in the car.
What’s up with these dogs having the time of their lives, smiling out the windows like a car ride is the best part of their day, while mine’s whimpering and shivering in the back? Well, if the only places car rides with your dog end up are the vet and the groomer, they’re probably gonna hate the car (wouldn’t you?).
Of course, don’t sacrifice safety for a fun ride—even if your dog seems to like sitting loose in the passenger seat with her head hanging out of the open window, she’ll be safer in a crate or harnessed into a back seat. We get it, it sounds sad—but maybe you’ve just been watching too much Marley and Me.
If you’re training your dog for the car and she still hates it with every ounce of her being, check with your veterinarian to see if anti-nausea medication would be a good option. Dogs can get carsick, too.

Pack your essentials

Make sure you have everything you’ll need prepared for the perfect
road trip with your dog
  • Poop bags
  • Water bowl, water, food, treats
  • Anything you need to clean up poop accidents (paper towels, stain and odor remover)
  • Safety harness or crate
  • Seat covers (if you want to protect your seats from wear and tear)
  • Toys for your destination
  • Anti-nausea medication
Key Takeaway Be prepared with all the tools and treats you will need for car travel with your dog. Taking your dog somewhere fun in the car (like to the beach or the dog park) will encourage your dog to be more excited about car travel.

Get adequate insurance coverage

If you want to practice safe driving, you’ll need car insurance—but car insurance shopping isn’t necessarily a favorite pastime for most.
, the car insurance comparison and broker app that does all the time-consuming comparison shopping for you—so you can spend your time prepping your back seat for Spot.
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What is the safest way to travel with a dog in the car?

The safest way to travel with a dog in the car is in a secured crate. Make sure the dog's crate is fully secured (it can be buckled into a back seat) so that it doesn’t slide around on the drive and doesn’t risk being thrown out of the vehicle if you get into a bad collision.
If a crate isn’t an option for you—maybe your car is too small or your dog is too large—you can get a safety harness for your dog. A safety harness basically acts as a seat belt for your pet.

How can I calm down my dog while driving?

First, spend time training your dog for the car. Your dog might not be used to riding in a crate (or a vehicle).
Give them rewards for car rides—the best reward is having the drive end somewhere fun, like a park where your dog can roam free and play. Avoid only driving your pet to the vet or the groomer.
If, after regular attempts at "fun" car rides, your pet is still stressed by the car, check with your veterinarian to see if your pet might be suffering from car sickness. Vets have anti-nausea medication they can prescribe for your dog.

Does car insurance cover pets?

Car insurance policies typically cover medical bills for people injured, as well as property damage. Some policies will cover medical expenses for your pet under the category of "property damage."
Though it’s rarer, some car insurance policies (like one offered by
) offer special pet injury coverage options for dogs and cats. Your pet’s medical expenses may also be covered by additional pet insurance coverage (which won’t be attached to your auto insurance).
In short, you’ll need to check with your insurance provider to know exactly if and how your pet is covered under your car insurance policy.
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