law with dogs in the car whilst driving

Driving With Dogs In The Car

(Last Updated On: 10th September 2020)

Driving with your dog in the car is something that we all love to do. However, they can become a huge distraction when left to roam the car without any form of restraint. For this reason, it is illegal to drive with your dog unrestrained within the car.

There are driving laws put in place worldwide that will result in big fines if found guilty.

The insurance website state that dogs that aren’t restrained whilst traveling is not only breaking the law but may even invalidate their car insurance policy. This will mean if you are in an accident with your dog unrestrained in your car, you will be liable and will not be paid out by your car insurance.

Highway Code Regulations

In the UK, the highway code says that:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars”

[Source: Rule 57 Highway Code].

The highway code applies to England, Scotland, and Wales and individuals that do not follow the highway code will be punished with a fine or worst case would be prison.

In the US, the laws vary from state to state.

For information on driving for each state, we strongly recommend that you read through this website, which states the specifics.

How To Keep Your Dog Controlled In The Car

Some dogs are known for becoming anxious during car travel. However, some are known for becoming bouncing balls of joy. To prepare for a long car journey with your dog, we recommend that you read some of the below tips.

  • Go for a long walk before to prevent bursts of energy whilst traveling in the car
  • Don’t feed your dog beforehand to prevent illness and motion sickness
  • Travel safely using the above methods
  • Keep the car at a cool temperature as the dogs will warm up more than you
  • Ensure the dog can stay hydrated with plenty of water
  • Take treats and emergency food
  • NEVER leave the dog alone in the car
  • Take regular breaks and allow them to stretch their legs
  • Prepare your dog beforehand with plenty of short trips before the big day

What Are The Best Restraints?

When you are traveling with your dog in the car, there are numerous different types of restraints to use. The standard seat belt that connects to the collar is a cheap and affordable method but not the best. It provides the dog with no protection and can potentially choke them as the result of a car accident.

An alternative to that is a car seat for your dog that connects the seat belt or frame. They can then connect to the dog’s collar to secure them in the seat. They offer great protection and comfort to your dog but can they can be a hassle to store or get your dog sitting in it properly.

Finally, the best method that we suggest is to use a dog car harness. They are specifically designed for the car and often come with padding around the chest area for protection. Some examples can be found here, which are suitable for a range of dog breeds.


Traveling with your dog in the car is the best way to explore unknown territories and can be done safely. Taking precautions such as not letting your dog hang his head out the window, roam around in the car freely, leaving him alone will help a long way.

The law is perfectly clear and it is a legal requirement to protect yourself and your animals. Not restraining your dog correctly will result in a fine or worse case an accident that you may be hurt in.

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