Can My Dog Ride in the Front Seat?

4 min read
Can My Dog Ride in the Front Seat? - Animals Matter, Inc.

Keeping your dog safe in the car is your top priority. Many people enjoy having their dogs close to them while driving. In some cases, the dog may even end up in the driver's lap. In other cases, the dog may typically ride in the front passenger seat.

Unfortunately, many of these locations may not be as safe for your dog as you might hope. There are several key reasons why your dog should not be allowed to ride in the front seat of your vehicle.

5 Reasons You Should Not Allow Your Dog to Ride Shotgun in Your Vehicle

1. Some states have laws that require you to properly restrain your dog.

If you've been cherishing images of your dog riding in your lap as you head down the road, make sure you check your state's laws. In New Jersey and Rhode Island, the law requires pet car restraints. That may mean using a dog seat belt or ensuring that your dog is in a crate in the back of the vehicle, depending on your dog's size and comfort level. Having your dog ride in the front seat unrestrained may violate those laws.

2. Airbags can cause serious injury to your pet in an accident.

Just as airbags can cause serious injury to young children in the front seat of the vehicle, they can also cause serious injury to your dog. The average airbag is designed for the height and weight of an adult. If your dog is in the way when it goes off, it can cause serious injury or even death for your pet. Crash tests do not take pets into account in most vehicles, and they certainly do not account for those pets when determining the average positioning and force of seat belts and airbags.

3. An unrestrained dog can lead to distracted driving challenges.

Many drivers do not think twice about allowing their small dogs to roam around the car while they drive. Both small and large dogs, however, can pose substantial distractions to drivers, which can increase the risk of an accident. If you look away from the road to deal with your dog, or have to take your hands off the wheel to push your dog away, it can lead to serious injuries.

Furthermore, sometimes, dogs can actually cause accidents as they wander around the car. They may bump the gear shift or the steering wheel, or interfere with your control of the steering wheel. In many cases, even minor actions can lead to an accident that may involve serious injuries for both you and your pet.

4. Properly restraining your dog in a seat belt harness can substantially reduce the risk of injury in a crash.

A safety harness can keep your dog much safer in the event of an accident. Make sure you choose a dog-friendly car harness that is highly rated and will help keep your dog secure in the event of a crash. Dogs, like people, can sustain severe injuries due to the force of an accident.

5. Unrestrained dogs may have a greater likelihood of jumping out of the vehicle or getting lost.

Even well-trained dogs can jump out of car windows or out of the bed of a pickup truck. By placing your dog in a pet carrier or safety harness, you reduce the odds that your dog will jump out of the vehicle and run into traffic or get lost.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

Do you want to keep your pooch safe while traveling down the road? Make sure you use these key safety tips for every car trip.

1. Keep your dog in the back seat of the vehicle when available.

Do not allow your dog to ride shotgun or ride in your lap to help decrease the risk of distractions. Instead, secure your dog properly in the rear of the vehicle.

2. Restrain your dog properly.

A dog car harness or dog car seat helps many pet owners transport their pets more securely. Both dog harnesses and pet carriers help prevent your dog from jolting around during an accident. You can safely add a travel cushion for comfort while still securing your dog with a harness and leash.

3. Turn off the airbag if your dog must ride in the front passenger seat.

Check to see if your vehicle has controls that will allow you to turn off the airbag for your furry family member. Turning off the airbag can also benefit children who need to ride in the front seat.

4. Appoint someone other than the driver to help supervise the dog, if possible.

The driver should not have their attention on calming the dog or correcting their behavior while driving. Appoint someone else in the vehicle to take care of your dog's needs, when possible.

5. Plan to stop regularly on long road trips.

If you know you will be spending several hours in your vehicle, make sure you have plans to stop regularly to allow your dog to get out, stretch their legs, and have something to drink.

Are you looking into better safety equipment for your pet so that you can take to the road more freely? Want to learn more about how to keep your dog comfortable, both in and out of the car? Contact us to discuss our luxury pet items.


Should my dog ride in the front or back seat?

Ideally, your dog should always ride in the back seat of your vehicle, in a proper safety harness. The passenger airbag can cause serious injury to your dog in the event of an accident, and keeping your doggy safe may mean having him ride in the back.

Is the front seat safe for dogs?

The passenger seat of most vehicles is not safe for dogs. The safest way to transport your dog for any car ride or road trip is to have your dog ride in the back seat of the vehicle.

How can I keep my dog from jumping into the front seat?

When your dog jumps into the front seat of your vehicle, it can create a serious distraction, even if your dog jumps into the passenger side of the vehicle. To improve car safety, create a barrier that prevents pets from accessing the front seat or have your dog travel in a pet carrier or safety harness.

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