Dog in Car Carrier | Ask Linda Pet Sitting | Indianapolis

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

We all know how important it is to keep human occupants safe when traveling by vehicle, but do you know how to keep your dog safe in the car? Dogs are often passengers, too, and just as prone to the dangers of vehicular travel. Making it even more important that dogs be safe and secure in your car, of course, is the fact that they can become a distraction and perhaps cause an accident. With that in mind, here are ways to keep your dog safe in the car:

Keep the Dog IN the Car When in Motion

One of the topics we discuss in my PetSaver class is different ways to ensure the safety of your pet while traveling in a car. This is especially important with dogs because they are much more likely to accompany their humans during everyday travels than their cat counterparts. It’s not uncommon to see a dog in the car with his owner or, for that matter, half in and half out of the car with his ears flapping in the breeze! As cute as this can be, it is also dangerous!

Not only are there risks to the dog of being hit by other traffic or roadside objects, the ASPCA reports that dogs can also get debris in their eyes and lungs leading to serious illness. Some dogs have also been known to jump out of car windows while driving or stopped. What would you do if your dog leapt from the car in stopped traffic on a busy road or highway? You won’t have to worry about that happening if you keep your dog restrained in the car.

Keep Your Dog Restrained

A dog that is allowed to roam free in the passenger compartment of a vehicle can be a dangerous distraction for the driver. While we enjoy the company, driving with a dog on your lap can be as dangerous – or more so – than texting while driving. In both cases, it is distracted driving. According to an AAA/Kurgo survey, more than half of respondents admitted driving with their dog in the car at least monthly, while nearly a third admit to being distracted by the dog during driving.

To keep the roadways safer for everyone, keep your dog restrained when riding in the car. How? First, make sure the dog stays in the back seat area. In the event of an accident, the force of an airbag could easily kill an unrestrained or even a crated dog in the front seat.

A crate, of course, is a must, but in the back seat only. Remember that even in a minor rear end bump, your dog will become a flying projectile if not secured. When crating your dog, apply child safety standards and secure the crate with the seat belt apparatus. Better yet, make sure that crate is secure by using a pet carrier restraint attached to the car’s seatbelt system.

If your pet needs a little more freedom, use a dog harness and seat belt tether to give them lead but still protect them in case of a crash. Of course, if you know Fido simply will not put up with that, you can also connect a dog harness to a zip line that spans the width of the backseat, allowing the dog to walk back and forth. This is not as safe as a seat belt tether, but it will keep your dog out of the front seat.

If you have a hard time keeping your dog in the back, there are several types of Backseat Barriers that fit between the two front seats to keep pets in the backseat. Or you might use an innovative product like the Auto Grass, which sits on a car console to deter the dog from taking a step forward and into the front seat.

Take Your Dog with You When Leaving the Car

Especially in hot summer months, it is critical to NOT leave your dog in your car. As I noted in another blog post, your car can become a pressure cooker in mere minutes. And because your dog is wearing a fashionable fur coat already, he will overheat quickly.

When you reach your destination, remember to leash your pet before opening the door. Again, an excited dog might leap from the car once the door is opened and make a dash for a busy roadway. (And before you go anywhere, make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an ID tag – just in case.)

Bottom Line: Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

In that AAA/Kurgo survey, 83 percent of respondents said they know that an unrestrained dog in a moving car can be dangerous. Sadly, only 16 percent said they use a pet restraint. Do you think an accident won’t happen to you? That your dog won’t be injured? That you won’t get hurt, or injure a pedestrian or someone in another car? Don’t take that chance. Keep your dog secured when traveling!

Of course, if your dog is simply not a good traveler and you need to be away from home for an extended period, remember that we specialize in dog sitting and dog walking. We’re a phone call away: contact us at 317.224.5243.


If you are looking for a pet sitter in Indianapolis, Carmel, Zionsville and nearby areas in Central Indiana, you’ve come to the right place. At Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we specialize in cat sitting, dog sitting, dog walking, and professional in-home pet care. We are not veterinarians, but we follow pet safety procedures and are trained for pet emergency situations. Above all, at Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we believe in education and proactive pet health. Linda is the only NAPPS certified pet sitter in Indianapolis, and is also a certified pet First Aid/CPR/Wellness instructor. Want to learn more? Ask Linda!

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