Yes, dogs are like family and it is a sad day when we go on holidays and have to leave them with a pet sitter, or worse, the kennels. It’s so hard to leave them, and we just wish we could tell them when we’ll be home again. So the idea of taking them with us on a pet-friendly holiday is perfect! We are so lucky to have a huge country to explore, so load up the car and head off on a family adventure. Trust us, your 4 legged mate will be the most excited!  

Now, when it comes to driving in your vehicle with a pet on board, there are some serious risks posed by a loose dog. Dogs, just like human passengers,  get injured due to being restrained and housed properly in moving vehicles. So, what are the rules, laws, and regulations dictating how you can drive with your doggo, what are the fines and penalties, and what are the options to restrain your pet in a moving vehicle?

Specific Rules & Regulations For Vehicle Travel With Your Dog

There are actually quite a few strict rules and regulations concerning dogs, and cats to a certain degree, being restrained in your car or other type of vehicle. These rules and regulations apply to most moving vehicles, and for many pets, but mostly for dogs in particular. Keep in mind, these rules are meant to keep both you and your doggo safe while driving. There are quite a few specific ones to keep in mind here, so what are they

1. A driver or passenger of any moving vehicle, whether a car, truck, bike, or skateboard, cannot lead a dog while the vehicle is moving. In other words, you can’t have your dog on a leash and walking outside of a moving vehicle.

2. When it comes to driving in a vehicle, an animal, specifically a dog, must be seated in an appropriate area. For the most part, this means on the floor behind the front seats, on the back seats, or in an appropriate rear area or truck bed. 

3. Keep in mind that a dog on a ute, truck, or lorrie must be properly housed. For instance, you can’t let Boomer run wild on the rear bed of your Ford F150. Your animal needs to be properly tethered or housed inside of a proper crate when on a ute bed, so that it does not fall or jump off while the vehicle is moving. 

4. For the most part, riding with a pet on a motorcycle is strictly forbidden. This is especially true when it comes to a dog being between the driver and the handlebars. It is very dangerous and a big no-no. 

5. In absolutely no circumstance shall a driver have a dog or other pet sitting or resting on his or her lap, or at/between the feet. You need your legs and your full attention while driving. A pet at your feet poses a severe obstacle in terms of getting to the accelerator, brakes, and other primary vehicle functions. At the very least, a dog on your lap is going to obstruct your vision.

Possible Fines & Penalties For Failing To Restrain Your Dog 

Whether you find it fair or not, there are indeed some pretty big penalties and fines for not following the above rules and laws in regards to travelling in a moving vehicle with your pet. What are some of these fines and penalties?

Now, when it comes to driving in your vehicle with a pet on board, there are some serious risks posed by a loose dog. Dogs, just like human passengers,  get injured due to being restrained and housed properly in moving vehicles. So, what are the rules, laws, and regulations dictating how you can drive with your doggo, what are the fines and penalties, and what are the options to restrain your pet in a moving vehicle?

  • If your animal is causing you to not be in full control of your vehicle in any way, shape, or form, such as having a dog on your lap, you are subject to receiving 3 demerit points and a fine of $425. This is the minimum fine, with higher ones being applicable, especially in cases where there is a higher degree of risk posed to civilians, such as in a school zone. 
  • Did you know that having a dog on your ute or on the bed of your truck, when not properly caged or tethered, can result in a fine of $500 or more?
  • According to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, courtesy of the RSPCA, if an animal is injured due to not being properly restrained in a vehicle or on the bed of a lorrie, ute, or truck, you will face up to 6 months of prison time, combined with a fine up to $5,500. 

What is important to note is that there are currently no rules stopping you from having Boomer sit in the front passenger seat next to you. We think this is an oversight and should be put in place, however. Deploying airbags are known to kill or cause serious injuries to dogs and pets sitting in the front passenger seat, and we have rules around child seats there, so why would we put our canine baby in the front?

Moreover, it is important to remember that penalties and rules may differ slightly from state to state, so it is recommended that you check the transportation laws for the specific state in which you reside, and are travelling through. 

Check the specific rules and regulations here before taking off on your adventures, especially as a lot of states have double demerit points over national holiday weekends when the roads are especially busy. 

Why Restrain Your Dog In Your Car?

When it comes down to it, there are indeed quite a few reasons why you need to restrain your dog in your car while travelling. Did you know that in Australia over 5,000 dogs per year are either severely injured or killed due to car collisions, accidents, or just events arising from having your pet improperly restrained, or not restrained in your car? That’s a devastating number, especially if some of those deaths could’ve been avoided. 

The fact of the matter is that dogs that are not properly restrained within a moving vehicle can also pose quite the risk to drivers and passengers. Distracted driving is not just about eating in your car or being on your smartphone,  it can also have to do with pets, especially if you are always checking on your dog, or if a dog is sitting on your lap while driving. So, what are the main reasons why you want to restrain your dog in some way while driving?

1. The Window Factor – For one, as you probably know, dogs love looking out the window when driving. It’s just something about that fresh air that really attracts them. Well, as is the case with many things that are enjoyable, it’s also not very safe for your dog to be sticking its head out the window of a moving vehicle. Dogs can jump out of the window and they can just fall out too, not to mention being hit by other vehicles and being struck by flying debris. In other words, restraining your dog in the car is important so that no open window related injuries occur. 

2. Airborne Dogs – Another reason why restraining your dog in the vehicle is important is due to the airborne factor. If you have to hit the brakes really hard, an unrestrained animal can become airborne. For one, this can seriously injure the animal, whether this is due to it slamming into the windshield or the back seat at breakneck speeds. This can also be very dangerous to people, because a big dog flying around in the car can definitely break some bones, or cause distractions at the very least. 

3. Less Distracting To The Driver – Dogs that are not restrained in the car also pose a big risk to the driver. An excited puppy running around in the car is not safe. It can hit buttons and switches, it can cause you to lose your grip on the steering wheel, and at the very least, having a dog on your lap while driving is going to distract you. Remember people, there’s a reason why distracted driving laws are becoming stricter by the day, because it is highly dangerous. 

4. Decreasing The Occurrence Of Injury To Drivers & Passengers – We did already cover this to a certain degree, but the bottom line here is that a loose dog in the vehicle can pose many threats in terms of injury to drivers and passengers. Wild or excited dogs, airborne dogs, and dogs with sharp claws just should not be let loose in a moving vehicle for a number of very obvious reasons. 

5. Overall Safety For Your Pet – When it comes down to it, restraining your dog within a vehicle has nothing to do with punishment and everything to do with safety. Dogs can get injured in many ways when not properly restrained in a vehicle. For many people, these dogs are close family members, ones that you want to see arrive in one piece, just like any human family member or friend. 


Options For Keeping A Dog Safe In A Car

There are a few different options you can go with in order to be compliant with the laws and rules we talked about above, and of course to keep your animal and yourself safe within the vehicle. What are these options. 

1. Cargo Barriers – These are pretty much those barriers you see in police cruisers which separate the back of the vehicle from the front. While these will not stop your dog from going airborne, it will keep them out of the front half of the vehicle. They can be slung up behind the back seat to cordon off the back of a hatchback or wagon, or they can go up behind the front seats of a sedan. 


2. Transport Crates – One of the best restraint options is a good old dog crate. It will stop your dog from going airborne, it keeps them out of the window, and it keeps them out of the front seat too. Remember to secure the crate down so it doesn’t slide around the back of the car when stopping.  View our best travel crate here.


3. A Tether/Harness – Many people decide to go with a simple tether or harness. This is more or less just a leash which attaches your dog to the seatbelt of your car. It’s a good all-around safety option that will keep you and the dog safe while within a moving vehicle. Using a tether onto a full body harness is much safer for your dog as it isn’t putting pressure around their necks if just using a collar.  View our favourite harness here. 


There you have it folks, the rules and regulations, penalties, and options for restraining your dog in your car. Remember people, this is not only for your own safety, but also for your pet, so pay close attention and stay safe out there on our amazing roads around this beautiful country.