How to travel with a dog in a car in the UK?

How to travel with a dog in a car in the UK?

Travelling with your dog in the car is a fairly inevitable part of being a pet owner, and the sooner you can get your dog used to travelling in the car the better. Whether you want to take them on a walk or a trip to the vet, having a dog that is eager to travel can help make your life a lot easier.

In this blog we’ve outlined what you can do to make travelling with your dog in the car as easy as possible.

How to travel with a dog in the car

As far as The Highway Code is concerned, dogs need to be ‘suitably restrained’ to avoid distractions whilst driving and prevent injuries if you have to stop quickly. If it’s necessary, dogs can travel in the front seat of a car as long as the airbag’s turned off, they’re secure, and the seat is as far back as possible.

There are all sorts of things you can do to make your dog as comfortable as possible when travelling in a car. Whether it’s getting a ramp for them to actually get in the car, or setting them up with a plush car seat or harness setup, you can ensure that restraining your dog is not a stressful process for you or for them. We’ve listed the main ways you can restrain your dog whilst driving below:

1. Dog car seats

Specially-designed car seats can be a great way for small dogs to travel without having to sit in a crate in the boot. Usually held in place by a seatbelt or attached to the seat via the headrest, dog car seats are becoming increasingly popular as comfy solutions to driving with  your dog in the car. You can connect your dog’s harness directly to most dog car seats, to help keep them safe and secure. Dog car seats also help to protect your car from mud after a particularly grubby walk. It is worth noting that most dog car seats are only suitable for smaller dogs, so bigger dogs will usually need another solution.

If your car’s been getting a bit muddy on walks, you can check out our blog ‘How much is a full car valet?

2. Dog car harnesses and seat belts

Travel harnesses and seat belts for dogs are a quick and simple solution to keeping your furry friend as secure in your car as possible. Harnesses are generally safer than connecting to a dog’s collar, as any sudden movements won’t cause choking or allow the dog to slip free. In most cases, dog car harnesses can be set up and attached to one of your seats or the inside of the boot ahead of time. When it’s time to travel with your dog, you can simply put them in the harness in the car and you’re good to go. Depending on the model you buy, you can often find a way to just connect an existing harness, rather than having to take the dog in and out of a harness every time they get in and out of the car.

3. Dog car hammocks and seat coverings

Dog car hammocks are essentially large slings that cover the seats and footwells in the back of your car. Most dog car hammocks will connect to the headrests and keep the dog restricted to the back seat. They often come with harness attachments to keep your dog even more secure. Hammocks and seat coverings are designed to keep the back of your car dirt-free and stop that classic wet dog smell from soaking into your seats. Dog car hammocks can be a great option for bigger dogs, as they can have the whole back of the car to themselves.

If you’re wondering how you can get that smell out of your seats, you can check out our blog ‘How to clean car seats

4. Dog crates and carriers

Dog crates are the classic way of travelling in your car with a dog. If your dog regularly sleeps in a crate at home, it can be a great way of getting them used to travelling in a car. Crates and carriers can be a great option if you don’t have much space on the back seat, as they can just be put straight in the boot. Your dog might have to make a bit of a leap to get into the boot, so you can always get them a ramp if they haven’t got much of a spring in their step. Crates and carriers are a great solution for dogs of all sizes. Just remember: the bigger the crate, the bigger your boot will need to be.

Do’s and don’ts of travelling in a car with your dog

Travelling with a dog in the car can be easy once you get the hang of it. If your dog gets  comfortable with spending time on the road, you can keep them with you wherever you go. Here are a few things you can do when travelling with your dog in the car to help things go as smoothly as possible:


  • Keep your dog secure with a car seat, harness, hammock, or crate
  • Take plenty of water on trips, as dogs can get dehydrated on long journeys
  • Take regular stops on long journeys so your dog can stretch their legs and do what they need to do
  • Bring a familiar toy or a blanket for your dog to help them feel comfortable
  • Get your dog used to travelling in a car from a young age
  • Keep your dog cool, ideally with indirect air-conditioning
  • Turn off the passenger-side airbag if your dog is in the front seat
  • Take them to fun places as often as you can, to associate car journeys with positive destinations (rather than the V E T)


  • Feed your dog immediately before a journey, as dogs can be prone to motion sickness
  • Allow your dog to stick their head out of the window, as over-excited dogs can jump out regardless of how fast you’re travelling
  • Leave your dog in a hot car, even if you’re just popping into a service station for a snack

If you’re wondering if you really can take your dog everywhere, you can check out our blog ‘Can landlords refuse pets UK

A few final tips…

Here are a couple of last things to keep in mind when you’re travelling with a dog in a car in the UK:

  • It’s not just against the law to not restrain your dog whilst driving, it’s actually unsafe. Dogs can distract the driver and any sudden braking could send them tumbling. To keep you and your dog as safe as possible, it’s best to keep them secure.
  • What kind of restraint that suits you will depend on your dog’s temperament and size. Bigger dogs tend to be suited to dog hammocks and harnesses, whereas smaller dogs are likely to be better off in a car seat or crate. You might want to try out a couple of options to find what works for you.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.