Dogs in Cars: Understanding the Law in the UK

June 19, 2023 - 4:14 pm - 4 min read

Overview of the Law

Dogs are known for their unwavering loyalty and affection towards their owners. It is common for dog owners to take their furry friends on road trips or to run errands. However, it is important to understand that the law in the UK sets out strict rules and regulations concerning dogs travelling in cars.

Firstly, it is essential to understand that according to the Highway Code, drivers have a responsibility to ensure their pets are appropriately restrained in vehicles to ensure safety and comfort for the animal, driver and other road users. Failing to comply with these laws can result in fines of up to £5,000 or nine penalty points on a driver’s license.

Using Appropriate Restraints

All dogs must travel in a suitable animal carrier, a crate securely anchored to the vehicle, or tethered in the rear of the vehicle using a dog harness. It is worth stressing that the use of dog guards alone is not considered adequate when it comes to restraining dogs in cars. The restraints used should ensure the animal is safe from harm in the event of sudden braking or collision, while also being comfortable for the dog over long journeys.

It is essential that dog owners avoid tying their pet up using products that weren’t designed for that purpose, such as leashes or belts, as these can cause serious harm to the dog in the event of a crash.

Collisions Involving Dogs in Cars

The law states that if a dog travels unrestrained in a car and causes an accident or makes the vehicle unsuitable or dangerous for the driver and others, the driver is likely to face criminal charges. As the driver, you will also assume responsibility in the case of injury sustained by your pet if the collision was caused by your failure to secure them correctly.

Ensure you check the restraint system is thoroughly inspected for any fraying or weakness before each trip, and it is advisable to allow ample space for an animal to stretch, rest, and move around.

Carrying Dogs in the Front Seat

It is crucial to note that dogs traveling in the front passenger seat may be a distraction to the driver and pose a risk of harm in case of airbag deployment. Airbags deploy rapidly, and in the case of a forceful collision, they can be catastrophic for both the animal and the driver. Therefore, it’s legal to carry a dog in the front seat provided they are suitably restrained using a car seatbelt or carrier.

Carrying Multiple Dogs in a Vehicle

It is legal to carry multiple dogs in a car, but the same restraint laws apply. Dog owners must ensure they use suitable carriers or restraints that can effectively hold all the dogs while still being comfortable for the animal. It is important never to leave dogs unattended in a car, especially on warm days, as it can lead to heatstroke in a matter of minutes.


The law protecting dogs in cars is in place to ensure that pets and drivers remain safe while traveling on the road. It is essential to understand the law regarding carrying dogs in a vehicle before embarking on a road trip. Always use a restraint system that ensures your pet’s safety, avoid carrying them in the front seat, and never leave them unattended in a car. Following these simple rules will help keep your furry friend safe, comfortable, and happy, while reducing the risk of accidents or charges under the law.

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