Should Dogs Sit in the Front or Back Seat?

Should Dogs Sit in the Front or Back Seat?

Car travel with your furry friend can be lots of fun for dog lovers! It is an excellent way to increase bonding time and give your pet a breath of fresh air. If your pup is like mine, they can't wait to jump in the car with you. But where exactly should your dog sit in a car?

Dogs should sit in the back seat of your car because that is the safest place for them. It is best not to let dogs ride in the front seat, especially in the driver’s lap. Keeping dogs in the front seat can be distracting and may also put the pet at greater risk in the case of a car crash. 

You love to drive with your dogs, but you might be placing your pet and yourself in danger by where you allow the dog to sit. If you want to learn the safest way to enjoy a doggy day trip with your furry friend, keep reading to find out why dogs would sit in the back seat of your car.  

Where Should Your Dog Sit in the Car?

Picture this:

You are cruising around town with your German shepherd in the front seat, and the large dog starts to hit the controls or even sit on the gearshift.

Getting the dog off would mean taking your eyes off the road, and that’s not something you want to be doing while driving.

So, where should your dog sit in a car?

Your dog should sit in the back seat in the car, where you can secure them using a seat belt. Even if you put the pet in a crate, make sure to attach the carte to a harness. Alternatively, you can put your dog in the cargo area of an SUV, particularly if you have a large dog.

With that said, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind whether you are traveling with your dog in the back seat or cargo space of your car:

  • Use good pet restraints to secure the dog. In the cargo areas of an SUV, attach the restraint to the vehicle’s LATCH system. 
  • Use good-quality seat covers to protect your car from possible vomiting. Check out our Pet Car Seat Protector, which is waterproof, chemical-free, and easy to install. 
  • Take frequent breaks during a trip. Consider stopping after every two hours or so on a long road trip. Both you and your companion need it. Your dog can stretch its legs and take a leak. 

Is It Safe for Dogs To Sit in the Front Seat?

It may seem fun to ride with your pet in the front seat. After all, you can secure your pup with a harness. 

But here’s one of the real dangers. 


It is unsafe for dogs to sit in the front seat because airbags are potentially deadly to lightweight passengers. Of course, a harness or seat belt can prevent the pet from crashing into the window or dashboard in an accident. However, the airbag can seriously injure or kill your dog.

By design, airbags explode with incredible force to keep seat occupants in place during a crash. And this is generally a good thing.

But there’s one drawback.

The force of the explosion from an airbag can be too much for children and pets to survive.

But can’t you simply deactivate the airbag?

Yes, you can deactivate the airbag if your car offers that option. But you will have to always remember to reactivate it when carrying a human passenger – and trust me, it’s easy to forget.

Other Reasons the Front Seat Is Not Safe for Dogs

In addition to the potential risks of airbags, here are some other reasons you shouldn’t keep your dog in the front seat:

Your Dog Can Be a Source of Distraction 

It is distracting to have Fido doing his thing right beside you while you are on the road. Dogs love to play with their owners, which is why it can be challenging to get them to “behave” when you put them so close to you in the car. 

The Collision Can Kill Your Dog 

Still not convinced about keeping your pet off the passenger seat? Here’s something you should consider.

Your small 20-pound (9.07 kg) four-legged friend can suddenly become approximately 5.312 pounds (2412.15 kg) of deadly force if you’re traveling at 30 miles (48.28 km) an hour!

That’s enough force to cause severe injury to your dog if you suddenly swerve, stop, or get into an accident. 

Besides, the force of the impact can send an unrestrained dog flying in any direction in the car. And this puts every other person in the vehicle, including you, at considerable risk.

You can’t suspend the laws of physics just because you love your pet. Thankfully, you can restrain your dog and keep it off the front seat. 

If your only option is to have your pet in the front seat with you, be sure to keep them restrained and protect your seat with a car seat cover for the drive.

Should You Put Your Dog in a Crate While Driving?

Dog crates are your best bet when it comes to preventing distractions while you are flooring the gas pedal. 

That’s not all.

You should put your dog in a crate while driving to prevent possible trauma inside the car. Crating your dog, especially during long trips, does not only prevent distractions but is also the most effective way to provide extra protection in the case of an accident.

Here’s the deal.

Even if your dog survives a crash, it can still run off in a panic and get hit by another vehicle. This risk is almost nonexistent if the pup is in a crate.

However, you want to secure the crate to the car seat. 

In this way, the crate (and your dog) won’t fall off the seat in rough road conditions or during emergency stops. 

Plus, there is less chance of the crate’s door coming apart in a severe accident and letting your scared pooch flee the scene.

Deadly “Sins” Your Dog Should Never Commit in a Car

Besides not letting your dog sit in the passenger seat of your car, here are some mistakes you should avoid if your pup must tag along on long or short rides:

Never Let Your Dog Ride in Your Lap

What readily comes to mind when you hear the term “distracted driving?” Texting and using cell phones while driving, right? 

Most people think so, too. 

But there’s another significant but less talked about cause of distraction while driving - DOGS.

The law may not outright ban driving with a dog in your lap in many states. However, driving with a pet in your lap can interfere with your ability to operate the vehicle safely.

For example, Connecticut law prohibits drivers from engaging in any activity that can get in the way of driving.

Having a dog or any other pet in your lap in some states like Hawaii may attract a fine. 

But even if it isn’t explicitly illegal to drive around with Fido in your lap, it simply is not the right thing to do.

Regardless of how small your dog is, it can block your view when driving, and that’s a severe hazard to you, your best friend, and all other passengers in the car.

Never Ride Without Buckling Up

Seat belts aren’t for human passengers only. Pets need to stay safe throughout a ride, too. 

If you don’t secure your dog during rides, it becomes a potential projectile in the case of an accident or sudden stop. If this ever happens, everyone in the vehicle is at a higher risk of injury.

An excellent way to prevent this from happening is to invest in our high-quality seat cover, such as the Luxury Velvet Rear Seat Cover

This cover protects your seat from dog mess and comes with a harness that secures your pet throughout your trip.

By the way, you can find good-quality car seat covers on our website, regardless of your car type – SUV, minivan, wagon, and more. Head on over to check out our seat cover collections!

Never Attach Your Dog’s Leash to the Car Seat Belt, Ever!

Securing your dog in a car doesn’t mean attaching the collar or leash to the seat belt. That would put your pet in grave danger!

You could inadvertently strangle your dog if you stop or swerve suddenly. The collar can break this neck bone (cervical vertebrae). 

Whatever you do, just don’t attach your dog’s collar to the car seat belt. 

Instead, use a full-body dog harness (also known as a dog seat belt). 

The harness comes with a strap and buckle that attaches to the car’s regular seat belt. In the case of a sudden stop, the strap distributes the force across your pet’s body, so it doesn’t strangle it.

Do Not Allow Your Dog Put Its Head Out the Window

There’s a reason dog owners are called “pet parents.” Caring for a pet means looking after the animal as if it is part of your family – and indeed, it is family.

Now, think of it this way:

Would you allow your kids to hang their heads out the window while you are hitting 60 to 80 mph on the highway?

That’s unthinkable for most parents.

It is dangerous for your kids – and dogs too!

No doubt, pups love sticking their heads out the window of a moving car. But just because a dependant likes doing something dangerous doesn’t mean we should let them, right?

This behavior increases the risk of dust, insects, and other flying debris getting into their eyes. 

However, here’s what you can do if you don’t want to drive with the windows up or if your dog is more comfortable with the windows down.

First, secure your dog using a harness, and then protect its eyes with a good pair of dog goggles. 

Keep Your Dog Away From the Storage Compartment 

Dogs like to stand or place their paws on the storage compartment between the passenger and driver’s seat. They do this to get your attention or just because they feel like it. 

This behavior can be distracting.

Restrain your dog to prevent this type of distraction. Keep in mind that some active dogs can still reach between the seats, even with a harness. 

If that’s the case, it may be necessary to use Auto Grass to deter your dog from standing in the storage compartment. 

Auto Grass attachments are uncomfortable plastic turfs, so pets can’t stand on them. 

These attachments can help train your furry friend to keep its paws away from the storage compartment.

Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car

Okay, so now we are clear on the car mistakes to avoid when your dog is in the car. But how exactly can you help Fido remain safe during car travels?

Here are a few tips worth considering:

  • Secure your dog with a backseat zipline. Unlike the regular dog seat belt, a zip line allows your pet to move about more freely in the backseat. 
  • Protect your cargo space with a cargo cover. If your dog must travel in the cargo space of your car, check out our Cargo Liner. It comes with bumper and side panels and will protect the cargo area of your SUV from dog mess.
  • Mount a back seat barrier. A mesh or metal dog barrier will keep Fido away from the front seat and prevent it from distracting you.
  • Invest in a dog hammock. Give your dog some luxury by fitting a hammock in the back of the car. Consider our Convertible Just Bench Pet Cover with an optional hammock.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your companion safe should be a top priority, whether you’re just cruising around town or going on a long road trip.

A collar and crate are not enough; make sure to secure your pet with a harness. You can even provide a little extra comfort during car travels with a luxury seat cover.

After all, Fido deserves the best!

Check out our website for the best dog products you can find to keep your pet safe and happy in your car.


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