Traveling around the country is a fun way for you and your family to enjoy your life especially if you love a good old road trip. But because you shouldn’t leave any family members to fend for themselves at home, it is best to bring along Fido. But transporting a dog in a car can be difficult especially because they have different needs and behavioral patterns compared to humans. So, how do you transport the dog in a car whenever you are traveling by road?
The best way for you to transport the dog in a car is to follow safety measures that allow it to travel with security and without feeling stressed. You can use a doggy crate for the backseat or you can use other measures such as harnesses or dog barriers that will keep your pet safe during the ride.
In case you didn’t know, transporting your dog in a car isn’t as simple as just putting him inside the family van as you go on with your road trip. There are actually important things you need to know and factors you need to consider especially if you don’t want to get into trouble or if you don’t want your favorite doggy pal placed in a position that can be quite dangerous for him.
How do you legally transport a dog in a car in the US?
As mentioned, when you want to take your dog out on a trip in your car, things are not as simple as they may seem to be. It’s not as easy as stuffing Fido into your car and just focusing on driving. Your dog isn’t a human child that can easily understand the situation it is in or knows how to behave itself in the proper way while you are in transit from one place or another. In fact, in plenty of different states across America, there are actually laws you need to consider when you are transporting your dog in a car.
In the state of New Jersey, you can pretty much get into trouble if you are incorrectly transporting your dog or any other pet in the car. You can actually get fined a hefty sum that is as high as a thousand bucks if you are deemed too careless in reckless in transporting pets inside your car. And in the state of Hawaii, there is a law that actually prevents you from driving in your car while the dog is sitting on your lap.
All in all, there are 14 states in the US that have laws that protect pets from owners that simply leave them unattended inside their cars for whatever reason. So, if you happen to be on a car trip with your furry friend and you leave it in the car so for a while because you had to go do your business in the restroom of a nearby gas station, you need to make sure that your dog is still taken care of or else you will suffer the wrath of the law as well as of animal protection groups.
Meanwhile, in almost the entire country of the United States regardless of whatever state, a crash that is the direct cause of a pet that misbehaves inside the car is actually covered by laws against distracted driving. That means that you might not be able to claim the crash as a mere accident especially when it can be shown that you could have done something about your pet but you chose not to out of neglect or even out of choice.
In other words, while some laws were not made to actually protect your pet, they nonetheless were enacted to make you a more responsible pet parent when you are transporting your dog in the car. Most of these laws were made to protect humans but that doesn’t mean that you should be neglectful when you are riding in the car with your dog. That’s why it is paramount for you to actually know the laws of your state and to be mindful of how you are treating your dog whenever you are on a road trip with it.
Going back to the state of New Jersey, it is actually the most pet-friendly state in the entire US when it comes to the safety of your furry pal inside the car. While most states may have enacted laws that may seem to be focused on the pet but are actually for the safety of the pet owner or of humans, New Jersey is a bit different in that regard because its pet safety laws are actually focused on protecting the pet primarily.
Specifically, New Jersey laws require you to make sure that your dogs and other pets aren’t loose in the car while you are in transit. This means that you cannot just simply allow old Fido to feel free to roam around inside the car while you are driving. That could spell disaster not only for you but also for your dog because it can simply fly out of the window at any given time or cause accidents that can harm itself, you, your passengers, and other people.
As such, in New Jersey, you are required to keep your dog restrained inside the car similar to how you and your passengers should be wearing seatbelts for your own safety. The dog might not be human but it is just as prone to hurting itself and others if it is left unrestrained inside the car regardless of whether you are driving at high speeds or not.
Some people may think that restraints can be a bit too invasive for their dogs because you are taking away their freedom to stick their heads out of the window and allow their cheeks to flap like how the entire country of America has gotten used to the image of a dog riding inside a car. But all of that is to simply keep the animal and the driver and passengers safe from harm.
That’s why New Jersey requires you to keep your dog restrained inside the car. The best way for you to probably do so is by using a harness that isn’t too invasive and restrictive. There are also other ways you can keep your dog restraint aside from harnesses. So long as your canine friend is kept safe and secured while it is transported in the car, you can feel assured that you probably won’t get fined by the police for any infractions and violations.
What equipment can you use to transport the dog in a car?
If you happen to live in a place where there are laws governing pet transport in a car, there is a need for you to make sure that you are using the proper equipment to help give your furry friend a comfortable ride throughout the entire road trip. And even if there are no laws concerning this topic, you should still think about your dog’s well-being and make sure that you are treating it with the kind of care and comfort that it deserves when you are transporting it in your car.
For those who are looking for a safe and secure way of transporting their pets in a car, here are the pieces of equipment you may want to use:
- Dog harness
The doggy harness is the seatbelt that was made for your dogs. It is arguably the most non-invasive and non-restrictive way for making sure that your dog is safe and comfortable while you are transporting it in your car because of how it simply is similar to a seatbelt but in the form of a harness that looks like the same ones you use when you are on a zipline.
A dog harness is usually attached to the car’s seatbelt. When you fit the harness onto your dog, there will be a loop that will allow you to attach the harness to the seatbelt so that the dog will feel safe and secured without feeling the seatbelt tugging it towards its seat. Instead, the harness just pulls the dog onto the seat to make sure that it doesn’t make any sudden movements that could jeopardize its safety as well as the safety of the other people in the car.
However, what you need to consider here is that doggy harnesses are usually best for dogs that are well-behaved. If you use a harness on a dog that is exceptionally excited to move around the car, it might not be able to hold it well enough. The more non-invasive harnesses are also prone to get chewed on by dogs. That is why some owners prefer zipline-style harnesses for dogs that love to chew through the harness.
It is also nice if you want to protect the car seat.
- Dog crates
A dog crate is another safe way for you to transport your dog in a car. This is best for dogs that are confident and relaxed due to how they are not prone to panic whenever they are kept in small confined spaces such as a box or a crate.
For those who do not know, dog crates are actually just specialized cages that were made to transport dogs and other similarly sized pets. There are different types of crates designed for different types of pets but make sure that you choose a crate that fits your dog well or else it won’t feel free enough to move around the crate if it is too small for your pet. The best part about a spacious crate is that it won’t make your dog feel too restricted as it can still move around and stretch its legs inside it.
When choosing a dog crate, make sure that you are buying one that has been crash-tested. What that means is that they should be safe enough for your dogs in a way that a crash will not do a ton of damage to the crate and will minimize the impact on the animal inside it. Most owners prefer dog crates made out of aluminum and fiberglass due to how they are much more durable than simple plastic crates. Insulation is also important because you don’t want your dog to feel the ill effects of the season especially when it is either too cold or too warm.
- Use a guard for your trunk
If you happen to own a van or an SUV with a ton of trunk space at the back, you may want to use a guard. A trunk guard is somewhat similar to a net in the sense that it forms a barrier between the rest of the car and the extra trunk space at the back of the vehicle. At the same time, it is also soft and cushioned enough so that your dog won’t suffer any injuries in case it gets thrown onto the guard during sudden breaks or stops.
A trunk guard is great for dog owners who not only have bigger vehicles but also don’t mind giving the extra trunk space for their pets instead of their bags. As such, this allows the dog to have enough space to move around the car while you are traveling. It is also perfect for pet owners who have multiple pets because the animals can easily share the trunk space at the back.
- Carry box
For those who own puppies or smaller dog breeds, a carry box might already be enough for you to use whenever you are transporting your dog in a car. However, you have to consider the fact that it is also important that you use a carry box together with a harness so that the dog is actually safe during the trip.
Carry boxes are ideal for smaller dogs because it allows them to have an elevated position wherein they can easily observe the surroundings during the trip. This reduces the anxiety that the dogs will feel while they are on a car ride as they can simply look at the things around them instead of simply observing the things they can see inside the car.
- Back seat barrier
The back seat barrier is similar to how a trunk guard works because it acts as a barrier between one part of the car and the other part where the dog is in. However, the back seat barrier is used for the back seat in case you are using a sedan and not a van or an SUV. The purpose of the barrier is to make sure that the dog doesn’t suddenly hop to the driver’s seat and cause unnecessary distractions that can potentially lead to accidents.
Back seat barriers are great for owners who have smaller cars but still want their dogs to feel comfortable and free inside the vehicle during a trip. If you are alone in the ride or if your companion is seated at the front seat, you can simply give the entire back seat area to your dog so that it will feel free to move around.
Other stuff you might need to for your dog in the car:
Do dogs need to be restrained in a car?
Technically speaking, there is no need for you to restrain the dog inside the car unless the law specifically provides that you need to keep them restrained. In most states and jurisdictions, the minimum requirement is that you only need to make sure that your dog isn’t on your lap or that it doesn’t cause any unnecessary distractions. That’s why restraints aren’t always needed.
Probably the only state that requires you to keep your dog restrained in New Jersey, which has laws that require you to make sure that the dog is kept in place. While it might sound invasive, it is nonetheless made for the safety of the dog and the other people in the car because it has been far too common for dogs to just suddenly bolt out through the window or jump to the front of the car when it is unrestrained.
So, in other words, as long as your local laws do not require you to restrain your dog inside the car, there is no need for you to do so. Still, it doesn’t hurt for you to keep it restrained especially when you have a dog that is curious enough to want to move around a lot or if your pet is the hyperactive type. Just make sure that you make frequent stops to allow the dog to move around and feel free.
What is the safest way for a dog to travel in a car?
If we are simply talking about dog safety without taking into consideration the anxiety and the freedom of your canine pal, probably the safest way for it to travel in a car is by using a dog harness that keeps it restrained on the seat.
Dog harnesses might not be the most popular way of keeping the dog in its place in the car during travel but they do keep the dog safe during the entire trip because they were made to restrict any sudden and quick movements that can jeopardize the safety of everyone in the car. As such, if you prioritize your dog’s safety above every other aspect during a car ride, a harness might be the best option for you when you are frequently traveling with your canine pal.
However, if you feel like dog harnesses are a bit too invasive and restrictive, you may want to use a dog crate instead because it allows the dog a bit of room to move around instead of keeping it completely restrained. Just make sure that you use a dog crate that is spacious enough and was tested to be crash-safe so that your dog will be truly safe during car rides.
Food and drink
If it is hot, don’t forget to provide your dog with water during the trip. If you are traveling for many hours, it also needs something to eat.
This food and water bowl is foldable when you don’t use it.