Car Rides With Dogs as Passengers

“Who wants to go for a ride in the car?”

Taking your dog with you for a car rides can be fun for both, but there are steps you should take to keep you and your dog safe. Having a dog in the car is just like if you had a child with you. Make sure the dog is safe and secure (preferable in the backseat) so they aren’t distracting you while you drive and they aren’t jumping around.

Doggy Seatbelts For Car Rides

Lab puppy in a dog seatbelt in the backseat of a car.

One main item that helps dogs stay safe is the doggy seatbelt. This is usually a harness that the dog wears that fastens into the belt buckle. (I recommend not attaching the belt to the collar because if you stop fast, that can cause for a choking hazard and may injure the dog’s neck.)

I like this kind of doggy seatbelt because they are customizable where you can lengthen or shorten how much space the dog gets in the backseat.

A white little dog in a booster seat with seatbelt.
Dog Basket Seat

If you have a little dog (pug, chihuahua, yorkie, small terrier, etc) that can’t see out the window with a traditional doggy seatbelt, there are basket car seats that they may enjoy better. Now they can look around and still be safe and secure.

Don’t want the car seats to get dirty and full of hair?

I have and love the backseat cover/barrier for our truck. This keeps the seats and floor from dog hair, mud, sand, any other debris the dog may track in! They are usually made to be put in the washer when they get dirty. The barrier part of these are great since it stops them from coming up to the front seat area. (Please use a doggy seatbelt with this. Dogs can still jump over the barrier.) There are slots where the seatbelt buckle end pokes out to fasten your dog in.

Does your pup get motion sickness on car rides?

Bulldog feeling sick in the car.
“AHHH, things are going by toooo fast!!!”

Dog motion sickness is more commonly seen in puppies and young dogs than in older dogs, just as carsickness afflicts more children than adults. The reason for this is because the ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed in puppies. This isn’t to say that all dogs will outgrow travel sickness, though many will.

If the first few car rides of your dog’s life left them nauseated, they may have been conditioned to equate travel with vomiting, even after their ears have fully matured. Stress can also add to travel sickness, so if your dog has only ever ridden in the car to go to the vet, they may literally worry themselves sick on the road.

Signs of Dog Motion Sickness

Dogs don’t turn the unflattering shade of green that people do when they’re experiencing motion sickness, but there are some signs of dog travel sickness you can learn to identify. These include:

  • Inactivity, listlessness or uneasiness
  • Yawning
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Smacking or licking lips

Treatment for Dog Motion Sickness

The best way to prevent dog travel sickness is to make the car ride as comfortable as possible for your dog.

Your dog will experience fewer nauseating visual cues if they face forward while you’re traveling, rather than looking out the side windows. One way to guarantee this is by using a specially designed dog seat belt. If you choose to have your dog ride on the front passenger seat, keep in mind that air bags do pose a potential hazard to dogs. Even though you can’t be sure your dog will face forward while riding in a travel crate, many people prefer to use crates for safety — and they do have the added benefit of containing vomit, should your dog become ill.

Dogs in Truck beds

If you need to put your dog in a truck bed, make sure they are contained (crated) and safe. There are many hazards when traveling with your dog loose in a truck bed. Mostly, dogs will want to jump out if they see something enticing. Even having them just tethered to the inside of the bed can cause injuries. If the dog decides to jump out, they can hang themselves! It’s estimated that more than 100,000 dogs die each year riding in the back of a pickup.

Dogs loose in a truck bed.
These dogs can jump into traffic injuring themselves and cause a big accident.
Dog loose in a truck bed.
This dog can jump out, slide off, or fall off.

Don't have dogs loose in truck beds.

Dogs do not have great stability when in a truck bed. They can slide around and injure themselves. In some states, this is illegal. California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island all have strict laws protecting dogs from injury and death from truck beds. Most other states have fines when they catch you.

Crates that are for truck beds.
Here is a great example of crates you can get for your truck.

Chloe’s story

My Chloe in our truck with her seatbelt on.
Chloe in her doggy seatbelt getting ready to take a trip across
the country.

When my husband (Ben) and I would ride around and bring Chloe with us, we were uneducated and did the ‘put a leash around the headrest and connect it to Chloe’s collar’ in the backseat. She would always lose her balance and end up choking herself because she fell to the floor and the leash wasn’t long enough. We immediately started looking for something to keep her more contained. I found a doggy seat belt at T.J. Maxx so I thought I would give it a try. It has been a life saver for Chloe and me. Now I know she safe and won’t go flying if I have to stop quickly.

My husband got a backseat cover for Chloe for Christmas and we all love it. Now Chloe can come up a little closer without falling to the floor to get closer to us. Plus all the mess she tracks in from the beach and mud, all we have to do is pop the cover in the washing machine!

Me driving while Chloe has her seatbelt on.
Chloe likes to pretend that she’s driving!!

Leave a Reply