For many dog owners, the idea of leaving their beloved canine companions behind when taking a trip is not very appealing. However, a ride in the car can be dangerous for a dog, especially if they don't have the proper restraint or system in place to protect them if you have to suddenly hit the brakes. Protect your furry friend by making sure that every car ride is a safe one.

What Dogs Need for a Ride in the Car

Even before you get your pup situated in the car, it's helpful to take a few steps to prepare them. If your dog hasn't ridden in the car for long trips or they're only dragged along when you're headed to the vet, the car may not be an appealing place. Take short trips with your furry friend to get them used to riding in the car, including the motion and how they are placed safely and securely in a seat or restraint.


If you're taking a longer trip, plan stops for the dog along the way. A dog should get a break from the vehicle at least every four to six hours. Bring water and a leash to let your pup stretch their legs and stay hydrated throughout the journey. It's best to keep mealtimes around the same time that the dog normally eats to avoid an upset stomach. If your pup gets carsick, you may want to plan ahead and have your vet prescribe medication for a long trip.

What Is the Safest Way for a Dog to Ride in the Car?

Dogs riding in car

Image via Flickr by Storm Farm


Now that you understand what your pet needs to have a more enjoyable ride in the car, the next step is getting the proper restraint system. A dog that isn't secured in a vehicle can create a dangerous situation for you as well as those around you on the road. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed more than 2,800 lives in 2018. Having an unsecured dog in the car can definitely be distracting to you and the drivers around you, meaning more drivers are potentially taking their eyes off the road.


When a pooch is allowed to roam freely in the car, this situation is more than just a potential distraction for you. If you have to brake or swerve suddenly, your pup could go flying, losing control of their body due to the movement of the vehicle. Even worse, an accident with an unsecured dog in the car can become a seriously dangerous situation. According to the traffic safety programs manager at AAA, a small 10-pound dog can exert as much as 300 pounds of pressure when in a collision. Your pup could cause serious injury to you or other passengers, as well as get seriously injured themselves.


The two safest options for dogs riding in the car include restraint systems and crates. You need to make sure that whatever you decide to use is properly rated for where you plan to place it. A traditional seatbelt designed for a human doesn't work for a dog, while certain crates are rated to be placed in the cargo area as they can withstand impact if you're hit from behind. Since a large portion of accidents come from the rear, you want to be sure that your crate-riding dog is protected if someone hits you from behind.

Do You Have to Secure Your Dog in a Car? 

You need the right system for your dog to protect them in a vehicle. If you plan to use a crate, start crate-training at home to get them familiar with this space. Subaru Ascent drivers have plenty of space in the cargo area for a crate, and those with larger dogs can fold down the third row of seats to increase the cargo space to as much as 47.5 cubic feet. 


If you plan to use a restraint system, such as a harness or dog seatbelt, you typically can connect this type of device to the existing seatbelt in the car. A car harness for a dog should always be crash tested to ensure its performance in the event of a collision. Smaller dogs may also feel more comfortable riding in booster or car seats designed just for them. Any type of car restraint system for a dog should go around their body rather than their neck to provide maximum neck protection. 

Where Should a Dog Sit in the Car?

Depending on the size of your dog and the type of restraint you plan to use, the safest places are the back seat or the cargo area. If you plan to use a seatbelt or booster seat to keep Fido secured, choose the rear seat for safety. Crates typically fit better in the cargo area, but they should be rated to protect against rear collisions.


Airbags aren't safe for kids or pets, so keep your dog out of the front seat for their safety. Some pet owners like to drive with their dogs in their laps while driving, but this really isn't safe for either of you. Even the most well-behaved pooch can get excited by something they see, causing you to potentially take your eyes off the road in response. 

Upgrading Your Subaru for Your Pooch

Subaru owners know that the vehicles from this brand are some of the best for driving around with dogs. After all, if the cars are good enough for the “Barkleys,” they're certainly good enough for your furry friend. Subaru models are dog-tested and approved. Plenty of Subaru accessories are designed specifically for use with pets. 


If you want to add components to your Subaru Ascent or other Subaru model, check out the selection of OEM Subaru parts available at Hiley Subaru of Fort Worth. We carry an extensive supply of parts and accessories in stock, and each of these components will fit perfectly in your vehicle to boost the safety for you and your furry friend.

Categories: Subaru Loves Pets

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