Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car

By: Chewy EditorialUpdated:

Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car

You hear about buckling up for safety in the car, and even about strapping in your children, but what about restraining your pets? Pet car safety while traveling with pets is an increasingly popular subject among pet parents—and with good reason! Having pets in the car can lead to distracted driving, which is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. According to the NHTSA, 15% of injury crashes in 2015 were a result of distracted driving. With almost 30% of pet owners admitting that their pets in the car causes a distraction (AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Survey, 2011), it’s clear that strapping up your dog is an essential part of car safety.

In order to reduce the risk of distraction, learn how to keep your pet contained and restrained on the road for both his safety and yours.

What’s the Right Solution for Driving With Your Dog?

Dog owners have different preferences when it comes to traveling with pets—some value their dog’s freedom to roam around the vehicle, while others prioritize safety measures over their dog’s flexibility to move back and forth. Whether you fall into one category or the other, our goal is to provide you with some helpful facts and tips, so you can determine which method works best and is safest for you and your pup when traveling on the road.

Letting Them Loose

Statistically, only 16% of people restrain or secure their dogs when driving. While a loose dog has complete run of the car and may enjoy the freedom and attention he gets, the dangers of distraction increase your chance of getting into an accident and injuring both you and your pup. In some states you can even be fined for driving with a loose dog. “It only takes two seconds of distractions for an accident to occur,” says Katherine Hamscom, Kurgo product and pet expert. “There are so many ways a dog can distract you; they can bark at you, little dogs will sometimes crawl underneath by the brake pedal, and then there are the little guys that like to be in your lap all the time. Even well-behaved dogs can distract you while driving,” explains Hamscom. For all these reasons, a loose dog can easily become a huge distraction and hazard on the road.

A Little Restraint

Restraining your dog with a tether or dog seat belt will keep him in the backseat, but also give your pup some room to move, turn and lie down. If your dog is restless, this method may work best for you, as it minimizes your distractions, while still satisfying your pup’s mobility needs. Keep in mind that even though your pup is constrained to the backseat, he may not be fully protected against crash safety in the event of an accident.

Most Secure Option

Securing your dog with a crash-tested dog harness is the best way to keep him safe on the road. Even though a harness can be restricting on your pup, it will ensure that your furry friend is protected in the event that an accident should occur. According to Katherine, “if a car crashes at a speed of 30 mph, an unrestrained dog can be projected forward at a force equal to around 30 times its weight. So that means that a 40-pound dog in a 30 mph crash equals 1,200 pounds of force.”

Products to Keep Your Dog Safe

Consider Kurgo’s variety of products to keep your pup secured and your attention on the road.


Kurgo’s Tru-Fit Smart Harness is a crash-tested dog harness that keeps your pup secured in the backseat of the car. The buckle system is based on the engineering used for rock climbing harnesses and linesmen, which ensures ultimate strength and protection for your dog on the road. Kurgo’s harnesses are adjustable, so you can easily find a custom fit for your dog, regardless of his size and proportions. It also comes with a chest pad to reduce stress on your pup’s trachea and sternum, providing maximum comfort and safety.

Seat Belt Tether

Kurgo’s Direct to Seat Belt Tether is a quick and easy way to strap your pup in. Simply click the tether directly into your vehicle’s seat belt when hitting the road, without having to undo it every time your dog gets in and out of the car. Combine the tether with Kurgo’s Tru-Fit Smart Harness for ultimate crash safety.

Leash/Zip Line

Inspired by active dogs, Kurgo’s Auto Leash and Zip Line restrains your pup to the backseat so he doesn’t distract you while driving, but still gives him some freedom to move back and forth as well as sit and stand. Simply connect the zip line between any two fixed points in your vehicle and use the included leash to attach your dog’s harness to it. It’s the perfect balance between freedom and restraint!


Dog car barriers create a bit of separation can make you both a better pet parent and driver when it comes to your pup’s safety. Kurgo’s Backseat Barrier is versatile, simple to install and remove, and has a universal fit for most vehicles. It creates a strong wall between the front and rear seats of your car to keep your pup in the back, reduce driver distraction, and protect your dog from launching forward during a sudden stop.

Booster Seat

Dog car seats are designed specifically for smaller dog breeds, Kurgo’s Skybox Booster Seat gets your pup off your lap where he could interfere with your driving, and instead props him up in his own comfortable car seat where he’s just a safe reach away. Small dogs can get anxious when they are not able to see outside, and this product boosts him just high enough to enjoy the view. This helps eliminate any distracted driving that may occur while pet parents are attempting to calm their nervous pet. The Skybox booster seat has a machine washable liner and reversible pads that are easy to maintain, so you can keep your car seat looking fresh and clean.

The Importance of Pet Car Safety

According to the AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Study, nearly 56% of Americans transport their dog in their car at least once a month. Traveling with pets can be fun, but remember to always be safe when you take a road trip with your furry friend. Here are a few things to consider when taking your pup out for a ride:

Darting Out

Each year, hundreds of pets are lost or injured when they dart out of cars uncontrolled, especially when they find themselves in a strange and busy environment that breeds stress and anxiety. To avoid such heartbreaking situations, make sure your pet is secured or restrained in the backseat.

Paws and Heads Inside

You wouldn’t let your child hang his arms or head outside the windows of a moving vehicle, so the same should go for your pet. Even though your dog may enjoy the whiffs of smells from the outdoors, make sure you are practicing pet care safety and that your pup is secured inside of the vehicle so he doesn’t run the risk of getting hit by a passing car or falling out.

Front Seat Is for Humans Only

The majority of accidents are caused by distracted driving, and nearly 30% of drivers admit to being distracted by their dog. With harnesses and tethers, you can ensure that your pup remains in the backseat, so that your full attention is on the road. For your own safety and for the safety of your pets, front seats should remain a human-only zone!

Having recently moved from rainy Oregon to the sunshine state, Anastasiya Chevtchenko spends her time catching rays by the beach, playing soccer with the locals, and embracing pet heaven – Chewy. A recent Penn graduate, Anastasiya works in Marketing where she hopes to bring in her expertise in international relations to expand the business. When she’s not facetiming her international friends or reading the news in five languages, Anastasiya spends her time working on PR projects, social media brand posts, and writing for Chewy’s BeChewy blog.



By: Chewy EditorialUpdated: