Driving Safely with Family Pets in the Vehicle

Many of us have family pets that love (or maybe don’t love) to go on car rides. We love our pets, and we would do anything to keep them safe, so we must know the basics on how to transport them safely and pass the tips on to any new drivers, such as your teen in the household.

From trips to the vet, the dog park, vacation, and even just going for a car ride, we need to ensure that we are safely transporting our pets to ensure that we do not increase the risk of collision. When our pets are not safely secured in the vehicle, this puts your teen at a higher risk of collision as your pet can pose as a distraction. Keep reading to learn some great tips which you can pass onto your newly driving teen to keep them and your family pet safe and happy!

The Risks Associated with Improperly Transporting Your Pet

There are two main risks associated with improperly transporting your pet. One, you are putting your pet at a considerable risk of being injured, and two, your teen is putting themselves in great danger as a loose pet in the vehicle can create a distraction. Your teen needs to ensure that their main focus is driving, which will keep them and the furry (or maybe not furry) friend safe!

According to the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (2021), “too often veterinary clinics see dogs come in with injuries or illness related to travel.” Some of these injuries result from:

Distracted driving is punishable in most states and provinces and does not just revolve around the use of smartphones. Distracted driving is any behaviour that takes the driver’s focus off the road, and you don’t want the family pet to be one of them! In jurisdictions such as Alberta, Canada the Government of Alberta outlines in the Traffic Safety Act (2021), “you can be charged with distracted driving if you are distracted by your pet while driving.” These laws are put into place to keep all passengers of the vehicle and surrounding vehicles safe and at a lesser risk of collision. So, how can you advise your teen to transport your family animal?

Best Means of Transporting Your Pet

Flip through the cards below to learn about the best methods of transporting your family pet to keep your teen and pet safe!

family pet

Vehicle Carrier or Kennel

When possible, the best method of transporting a dog or cat is using a vehicle carrier or kennel secured in the back area of the vehicle. Ensure that the crate is secured so that it does not slide around as the vehicle moves. This may not be suitable in all situations as some vehicles may not be large enough to fit a kennel for a medium to a large-sized animal.
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Doggie Seatbelt

Visit your local pet store or even shop online! Dog seat belts are easy to use and attach to your pet's collar or harness and then into the vehicle's seatbelt. It is important that your teen practices securing the family dog before actually moving the car to ensure that they know how to use the device properly and so that the dog is comfortable.
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family pet

Dog Hammock or Back Seat Barrier

Dog hammock and backs seat barriers are great for larger pets! Either of these devices keeps your pet in the back seat safely without being able to move into the front, causing distraction.
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Any other animals such as gerbils, hamsters, and fish should be kept in their enclosures and secured correctly in the back seat (when possible) to reduce distraction and keep the pet safe! Visit The Bark’s article, 7 Ways to Secure Your Dog in the Car, for some more great tips!

To learn more about distracted driving, visit the Coaching New Drivers blog post, 3 Tips to Ensure Your Teen is Not Distracted Driving. The Coaching New Drivers team is here to help! We want to ensure that your teen is fully prepared to take on the roads safely! Subscribe to our blog to get new tips each month, follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or visit our homepage to learn more about the Coaching New Drivers program.


Alberta Veterinary Medical Association. (2021). Distracted Driving and other Pet Travelling Considerations. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.albertaanimalhealthsource.ca/content/distracted-driving-and-other-pet-travelling-considerations

Government of Alberta. (2021). Distracted driving. Retrieved from https://www.alberta.ca/distracted-driving.aspx#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20you%20can%20be,safe%20operation%20of%20the%20vehicle

The Bark. (2020, March). 7 Ways to Secure Your Dog in the Car. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://thebark.com/content/7-ways-secure-your-dog-car

Coach Bill

Coach Bill

Bill is the Managing Partner of Coaching New Drivers and has a vast background in driver education. Bill is passionate about technology-based driver assessment and has gained extensive knowledge and experience through lecturing on driving topics across North America, Australia, and Asia. Bill is a parent to two teens who he has also successfully coached during the Learner’s permit stage.

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