Should My Dog Wear a Seatbelt In The Car?

There’s no such thing as being too careful. Having your dog wear a seatbelt in the car can keep them safe on long and short trips.

Dec 21, 2023By Thalia Oosthuizen
should my dog wear seatbelt in car

As humans, we all wear seatbelts. But do our dogs have to wear them, too? Like any other passenger, your dog should be secured in the car. This keeps both of you safe. A seatbelt keeps your dog anchored if you’re involved in a collision. It also cuts down on distractions behind the wheel. After all, could you concentrate with your dog crawling on you?

We’re here to explain the importance of pet safety, applicable laws, and reasons to buckle in your furry friend.

Your Dog Could Benefit from Having a Seatbelt

shiba inu in car
Image Credit: Joyride Harness

Before getting into the details surrounding seat-belting your dog, let’s discuss the importance of pet safety. We all love our pets, so we want to make sure we do our best to keep them safe. For a lot of people, pets are like a member of the family, and we want to keep them happy and healthy.

In the same regard, it’s important to remember that pets aren’t humans. They don’t have the same understanding and intelligence of safety. Therefore, it’s your duty as pet owners to keep them safe.

What Laws Apply to Dog Seat-Belting?

collie mix car
Image Credit: Canna-Pet

Laws on seat-belting dogs differ depending on where you live, but there are certain laws about no distractions while driving. For U.S. citizens, federal law requires that pets, including dogs, should not distract drivers. However, there are no laws specifying that they should be restrained.

On the other hand, in the U.K., the highway code states that dogs and other pets should be suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you or injure themselves.

Seatbelts are one of the main recommended ways to restrain dogs while driving, but other options include crates, pet carriers, and harnesses.

What Are the Reasons for Seat-Belting Dogs?

beagle in backseat
Image Credit: NBC News

While the laws differ depending on where you live, it’s recommended that you secure your dog to some extent for various reasons. Some include:

  • It keeps dogs from moving around in the car, potentially distracting the driver.
  • Ensures that if you get into an accident, your dog won’t be significantly harmed.
  • It keeps your dog from getting too excited and jumping out the window.

Quick tip: put the child lock on to protect those crafty dogs that know how to open car doors.

How Should I Seatbelt My Dog?

seatbelt dog
Image Credit: Kurgo

There are several ways to seatbelt or secure your dog. It’s also important to make sure you’re using trusted and reliable products when bringing your dog along for car journeys. The right dog security equipment should maintain stability, restrain big movements, and stop your dog from flying off the seat (or worse) if you were to get into an accident.

We recommend taking a look at the Center for Pet Safety, Mountain Dog, and EzyDog sites for trusted equipment for your furry friend.


If you have a dog that could distract you by moving around in the backseat, you could benefit from putting them in a harness. The right size and type depend on your dog’s size. After all, a Rottweiler wouldn’t need the same harness that a Japanese Chin would.

Carry Boxes

dog in car crate
Image Credit: PetSafe

A carry box is a great and convenient way to make sure your dog is safe in the car. This option works best for small dogs, and the carry box should be at least twice as wide as your dog's shoulders. They need to be comfortable.

Backseat Hammocks

Using a backseat hammock is good for keeping your car clean if you have a mucky pup after a woodland walk. They also create a safe, secure, and comfortable space for your dog to sit while in the back of the car.


Crates are also a great option for your dog, working particularly well for larger dogs who wouldn’t fit in a carry box. They should either be placed in the backseat or the trunk. Crates should still, of course, be attached to seat belts in case of an accident.

Dog Guards

Dogs will often sit in the trunk of the car while you’re driving around; it’s common practice for a lot of dog owners. Dog guards can be put between the trunk and passenger area, meaning they can’t sneakily jump into the main part of the car and distract the driver. We all know how easily distracted we can be by our adorable pups–it’s best to avoid it!

Tips for Traveling with Dogs

hound mix in backseat
Image Credit: The Spruce Pets

If you drive a lot, road trips with your dog may be a common occurrence. Nothing’s better than having your furry friend along for the ride. These are some essential top tips for travelling with dogs:

  • Make sure your dog feels comfortable, particularly anxious pups. Bring some blankets, their favourite toy, treats. It helps to make the car feel like home.
  • It’s important to provide security or restraint for your dog. Their safety is a priority. You know what’s a great idea? Getting a seatbelt or another restraint for your pet––and we’ve made some great recommendations above.
  • Be sure to take regular breaks for toilet breaks and exercise, especially for energetic pups like Australian Cattle Dogs.
  • Make sure they have plenty of food and water, especially if they deal with excessive drooling.
  • Ensure that your dog is wearing a collar and tag with your updated information. This way, if your dog gets lost, you can help relocate them.

In addition to staying comfy in the car, why don’t you plan a visit to some dog-friendly travel destinations? From Florida’s sandy beaches to the mountains of Oregon, there’s no going wrong.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading