One of the safest ways (if not the safest way) to transport your dog in the car is by using a crate. In fact, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has deemed crates as the safest method of securing your dog in the car when it comes to the dog’s safety and the prevention of distractions while driving.
Crates are a great way to travel with your dog because they can be made extremely comfortable for them, and gives them room to play with their toys or treats without any extra mess. In addition, you, as the driver, know they are safe, and you are not subject to the distraction of an unrestrained dog in the car.
Depending on the size of your dog, some crates are made to fit in the backseat of your car, while others are designed to fit into the loading area of an SUV. There are a variety of styles, sizes and options available when it comes to crates and bringing Fido along on that next road trip.
How to Secure Your Crate Safely
We all know what its like to load a dog crate in the car only to have it slide all over the place while we’re driving. This not only creates a distraction for us, it’s also not safe for our animals. In the event of a crash, an unsecured crate with your dog inside could be devastating. Thats why its so important to keep your crate secure while driving.
Another thing to remember is that its always better to keep your dog in the backseat of the vehicle. The front seat is the most dangerous area for your pet to be in and should be avoided if at all possible.
With that being said here are a few ways we can secure our crates and make them more safe for our pets.
The first method for securing your crate is to use your seatbelt. If your crate is small enough, you can simply buckle it in just as you would yourself. This method only works if the crate is small enough. Large crates are just too big for the seatbelt to fit around.
If your crate is too big, or you just prefer not to use your seatbelt, you can invest in safety straps like these.
These straps can be clipped onto your dog crate and buckled right into your seatbelt latch. This is by far the easiest and most convenient way to secure your dog crate inside your vehicle. These safety straps are super affordable and convenient to use. Definitely check them out on Amazon if you want a budget friendly way to keep your crate secure in the car.
If you dont have a backseat to put your dog crate in and have to drive with your pet in the front seat, do so with caution. Be sure to secure your crate in the front seat just as you would if it were in the back seat. Again, driving with your pet in the front seat should be a last resort.
If your crate is too large to fit in the front seat, check out our article How to Secure Your Dog in the Car With a Leash – The Safe Way for more ideas on how to safely secure your pet in the car.
What Crate is Right for Your Small Dog?
For smaller dogs, transportation crates are typically quite easy to manage and affordable. There are two popular styles when it comes to small dog crates. The first style being the classic kennel and the second being a soft folding crate, like the ones pictured below. Both styles of crates have their pros and cons.
Classic dog crates are typically made out of plastic or some other lightweight, durable material. They’re designed to be light, and easy to carry. Most of them come with with one front door but some come with a second door on top of the crate. This makes it a bit easier to load and unload your pet. The downside to this style of crate is that they cant be folded up easily when not in use.
More recently, however, the soft travel crate has become more popular as it’s foldable and typically more comfortable for your dog when riding. The downside to this style of crate is that they’re not designed to carry a pet in outside of the vehicle. They typically don’t come with carry handles, which makes them a little cumbersome when trying to carry them with a pet inside.
Both styles of crates will work fine for transporting your furry friend. It really just comes down to what you need in a crate.
If you’re in need of a classic kennel style crate, consider this one on Amazon. It has two doors, one in the front and one on top, making it super easy to load and unload your pet. Its made of heavy duty plastic which makes it strong but light, and also comes with a convenient carrying handle. This option is great for taking pets to the vet or anywhere else where keeping them contained is necessary when outside of the vehicle.
A great option for a soft crate is the AmazonBasics Folding Soft Dog Crate. Its capable of holding dogs up to 30 pounds and also comes with a front and top door. Its constructed of PVC and polyester fabric making it light and strong. The best thing about this crate is that it folds up flat for easy storage.
Both of these styles are smaller and can be easily stowed in the backseat of your car. Think of these crates as a baby or toddler car seat – they fit in the backseat just fine, but need to be properly secured. Do not, if possible, travel with your dog’s crate in the front seat – in the event of a crash, your dog can be seriously injured by the impact or even just the airbag.
Again, if the crate is small enough, you can secure it to the car by simply buckling the seatbelt over the crate. If the crate is too big to be directly buckled in, you can secure the crate by using safety straps that buckle into your car’s seat clips. It’s best to secure both the front and back of the crate, to keep it from sliding in any direction.
You can also purchase industrial safety straps that are designed to fit snug on top of objects to keep them from moving. These straps can be attached to your car doors, headrests, or seat belts to keep the crate snug to the seat.
Dog carrier straps like these come in a variety of sizes and can attach directly to your car seat buckles
What Crate is Right for Your Big Dog?
Car safety and the use of crates can get a little more complicated the bigger your dog is. It is best to travel in an SUV or a vehicle with a loading area when traveling with a large dog, as it is the safest place for them to travel and to have their crate stowed.
A crate this size will take a little extra effort to have secured into your car. In this instance, industrial safety straps are typically the best way to secure a large crate in the loading area of your SUV. Two safety straps hook onto either side of the car, then strapped over top of the crate will keep it from sliding and shifting with the road. Make sure your straps are snug and secure – you don’t want the crate to go anywhere.
Some metal crates are made to fit specifically into the loading area of an SUV. However, if a large metal crate is too bulky for your particular vehicle, there are more portable, collapsible models available as well.
This collapsible dog crate is perfect for dogs up to 50 pounds. It has a leak proof bottom, folds up easily for storage, and is washable. With multiple doors and easy assembly , this crate is comfort and sensibility in one.
What type of crate you buy depends on your personal preference and whatever makes the road trip easier for you, but the soft, portable models have become more popular in recent years. They are a solid option all-around, whether it be a trip to the park or a cross-country trek. Above anything, your dog’s crate should work for them.
For many dogs, especially those that suffer from anxiety inside or outside of the car, their crate can oftentimes act as a safe haven. Traveling can be stressful for anyone, but especially our furry friends. Crates make it possible to know they are safe and secure, while also knowing that they feel safe and secure.
Crate Training Your Dog
Almost every dog will need to be crate trained if they are not already. Crates are meant to act as a safe haven or private spot for your dog to relax and feel comfortable, but this isn’t usually learned overnight.
If a crate is the right method for you to travel with your dog, it’s important to train them accordingly. Here are some tips on crate training, which is a vital step before you can get them in the car.
- First of all, it’s important to properly introduce your dog to the crate. You should start crate training inside the house, by placing their crate in a busy area of the house where you or your family frequents.
- Put a soft blanket in the crate for them before bringing them over to it and speaking in a high pitched, happy voice.
- Encourage your dog to enter the crate by lining small pieces of treats leading up to the crate, at the door of the crate, and finally in the center of the crate. Encourage your dog to enter the crate with positive talk and rewards, but don’t push it.
- If your dog does not enter the crate fully right away, do not pressure them further. Come back the next day and work some more toward that goal.
- Once your dog is comfortable in the crate, begin to practice intervals of time in which they are in the crate. Bring them a meal or treat whilst they are in the crate to build a positive association to it. Add a few minutes to the interval every time. This practice will help them build a positive association with the crate itself, and the trust that you’ll be back.
- Begin training with a certain command, such as “crate” or “kennel up.” Reward your dog for every successful command and continue the interval practice until they are comfortable with the crate itself.
- When adjusting them to their crate in the car, complete the crate training steps before moving their crate into the cargo or back seat area of your vehicle. Command for them to kennel up and reward them for positive behavior.
If your dog is hesitant to enter the crate once it is inside the car, repeat steps 1-6 with the crate inside the car. You can also visit our article “ Learn How to Calm an Overly Excited Dog in the Car the Easy Way” for more information on anxiety and car training.
How to Make Your Dog’s Crate Comfortable
With that said, it’s important to mention the necessary factors to make the road trip comfortable for your dog. First and foremost, your crate should be the right size for your dog, with enough room to sit up and lay down.
You can even take it a step further and furnish your dog’s crate with mattress pads or blankets, as well as line the side of the crate with foam to protect them from any bumps in the road.
Making sure you have ample food, water and treats for them is vital as well, and toys to keep them busy. Proper first aid, such as flea and tick treatment, cleaning solution, and emergency food is a good idea as well.
Sometimes a dog crate simply is not an option for your vehicle and the size of your dog. If the crate size is too large for your backseat, you don’t have a loading area, or whatever the reason may be, a viable second option may be a pet safety harness.
Always remember that safety is first, for both you and your fur baby! Here is a pet safety harness that may be a great choice if crates are not a viable option for you. Check out our article on Securing Your Dog in the Car with a Leash for more information on the use of safety harnesses and securing them.
Whether it’s a quick trip to the park or a cross-country road trip, you want your pet to be just as safe and comfortable as any other passenger. Ease their anxiety and your mind by securing their crate safely in your vehicle.
Always be sure to buckle up and stay safe! Thanks for reading!