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Dogs in Cars: What the UK Driving Law Says

Posted on 29th January 2023
Dogs in Cars: What the UK Driving Law Says

Depending on where you live, a car journey may sometimes be the best way to get your dog to the best walking spots in the area. Other times, you may be away from home for a long time so need to bring your canine companion with you for that cross-country drive.

How though, do you ensure you are on the right side of the law when transporting your pet, and how do you ensure your dog is safe as you hit the road?

We looked at the current UK law so that you can have peace of mind when attempting to get from A-2-B with your dog, or any other pet in a passenger seat!

Can pets travel in my car?

At present, the highway code states that travelling with pets, most commonly dogs, is perfectly fine as long as the rules are followed. The current rule says:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they can’t distract you or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, a pet carrier, a dog cage, or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

If you were to go against these rules and be caught, you could find yourself fined anything from £100 upwards. Driving in such a manner falls under the category of careless driving which not only has a fine attached to the charge but between 3 and 9 points could be added to your license.

What is the law on dogs in cars in the UK?

Dogs, as with other pets, must be restrained properly – as per highway code rule 57 – and safely in any vehicle they are transported in.  Further to the law around how a dog should be restrained, owners must also be aware of the rules, and the implications around leaving a dog in a vehicle that is not being driven. Hot weather is known to be extremely dangerous to dogs, especially when shut inside a car with glass windows all around it, amplifying the impact of the heat.

At present, there is no law as such around this, however, animal welfare laws state that you must look after your animal correctly. Any illness or death caused by owner negligence could lead to prosecution.

Can my dog travel in the front seat of my car?

The back seat is the safest place for a dog in a car. If your dog was sitting in the front and you were to have an accident, the risk to the dog is substantially higher than if it was in the back. If though, your dog must travel in the front seat, you must follow the law of keeping it restrained in addition, push the seat back as far as possible and disable the airbag if you have one.

How to transport a dog in a car safely

We briefly touched upon the methods with which you can transport a dog in your car in the opening of this piece, but you may not know the best option for you. Different size dogs as well as different size cars all make a difference.

  • Pet carriers are great for small dogs and lightweight enough for easy moving. They can be placed on the back seat or in the boot if not in a saloon car.
  • Dog crates can take up a lot of space but are good for the dog as they give it space to stand up and turn around. More commonly used on long journeys, dogs should be trained on using the crate first.
  • Dog guards give your dog its own little area to feel safe and secure in. Fitted between the boot and back seats the dog has freedom in the boot but is safely contained.
  • Safety harnesses for dogs are simply like mini seat belts. They simply attach to the dog and are then clipped into the seatbelt itself.

How do I keep my dog comfortable on a car journey?

Depending on the length of the journey, may determine the extra measures you may have to take to keep your dog comfortable. A quick journey down to the local park may not require you to do much at all. A 2–3-hour drive further afield could see you need to make a few changes.

It is recommended that you stop every 2 hours for your dog to go to the toilet, stretch its legs a little and perhaps have a drink. Heat stroke can affect dogs quickly so ensuring they are kept cool and refreshed is especially important. Air conditioning can also help them, however, a blast of air-con directly at your pet can cause it unnecessary stress. Maybe you could open a window instead, just ensure the window isn’t open so wide that they could stick their head out or worst case, jump out.

For some dogs, a comforter of some kind makes the journey much easier. Perhaps a blanket or a chew toy is worth bringing to help keep them calm.


If you are looking to find a car that can safely house your dog on journeys of any distance, speak to our team at Euphoria Finance. We specialise in helping drivers of all ages and abilities secure cheap car finance.

We excel in poor credit car finance as well as helping those that are on the lookout for quick car finance for a new or used vehicle.  So whether it is new car finance, a car for a first-time driver, or a campervan for a life on the road, Speak to us today!


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