What You Need To Know About Dog Laws In Cars

February 12, 2023 - 7:12 pm - 3 min read

The Importance of Pet Safety during Automobile Travel

Traveling with your furry friend that walks on four legs is always a delightful experience. For most pet owners, the bond with their pets can be likened to that of a parent and child. As such, they would do everything to ensure their safety and comfort. However, road trips, especially long ones, can pose a risk to your pets. The good news is that there are laws that protect your canine friends while on the road. In this article, we review the legal requirements and recommendations, concerning the transportation of dogs in cars.

What Are the Dog Laws in Cars?

The laws governing pet safety, especially dogs in cars, differ from one state to another. However, there is an agreement that all pets, including dogs, should be adequately secured when traveling.

Most states have laws that prohibit driving with a pet that is not harnessed or kept in a pet carrier. California laws, for instance, require all pets to be transported in a pet crate or a pet car seat while traveling by car. Similarly, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission stipulates that dogs must be restrained by a dog seatbelt while in transit.

While not all states have explicit pet laws, authorities can still charge dog owners with reckless driving or animal cruelty if the pet causes a distraction or is harmed during the trip.

Dangers of Driving With an Unsecured Pet

Dogs are curious animals and tend to pick up even the slightest change in their surroundings, leading to distraction while driving. This behavior puts them at risk of injury or even death during a car ride.
For instance, an unsecured dog can clamber onto the driver’s lap, causing a distraction and increasing the possibility of an accident. An unsecured pet can also be thrown out through an open window or, in the event of an accident; it can become a projectile and hit passengers or the driver, causing serious injuries.

Moreover, extreme weather conditions, such as heatwaves, can make it unbearable for a dog in a car. The rising temperatures can lead to dehydration as well as heatstroke, a severe condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Best Practices for Safely Traveling with Your Dog

Even when it is not a legal requirement, it is essential to keep your furry friend secure during car rides to prevent accidents and ensure their safety. Below are some guidelines to ensure your dog’s safety during road trips:

Remember, it is equally vital that you stay alert and focused while driving to prevent accidents and life-threatening situations.


In conclusion, laws regarding dogs in cars aim to protect both pets and the public as a whole. While some states may not have explicit pet travel laws, it is essential to ensure your dog remains secure and comfortable throughout the journey.
By adhering to responsible pet travel practices, you can avoid legal issues while creating a fun and safe travel experience for your furry friend. Remember to keep in mind the guidelines in this article and the specific laws in your state before traveling with your four-legged member of the family.


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