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Driving with dogs - how to safely restrain your pet Driving with dogs - how to safely restrain your pet

Driver safety

Driving with dogs - how to safely restrain your pet

Published 14th May 2021Read Time 6 min

Understanding the laws in Ireland

Did you know that it’s a legal requirement to safely restrain your dog in a car in Ireland?


This is to make sure they don’t distract the driver or cause injury to themselves or any other passenger in the event of a crash.

Remember, restraining your pet is as much for your safety as it is theirs. When you’re going to be driving with your dog in the car, ask yourself:

  • Is the dog going to be comfortable?
  • Am I confident the dog won’t be moving around?
  • Will the dog be a distraction sitting beside me?

If you answer “No” to any of these, you need to look at having restraints in place.

Keeping dogs safe in cars

There are many ways to safely restrain pets- pick what’s best for your dog depending on their size and temperament.

For Small Dogs, opt for a Pet Carrier

For your chihuahua, your dachshund, your shih tzu and beyond, something smaller like a pet carrier works well. Just make sure the carrier is a comfy fit for your dog and secure it in the car with a seatbelt. Don’t leave the carrier unsecured in any part of the car, as it could be thrown around in the event of a crash, or if you need to stop suddenly. It’s also important to note you should never put a pet carrier in the boot of a saloon car as your pet could suffocate.


For Medium to Large Dogs, pot for Safety Harnesses

For bigger dogs, a harness that attaches to the seatbelt is a great, cost-effective option. The average harness should set you back about a tenner. The harness should comfortably fit around the dog’s chest and back and they should have enough room to move around a bit, but not be able to reach the driver. The harness should then be secured to a seatbelt. Some actually clip into the seatbelt slot, which is handy and these types of harnesses are available in most pet and motor shops. Just make sure it’s the right size for your dog, and you’re good to go!

What To Do If You Want Your Dog In The Back/Boot

Using a Metal Guard

Another option for securing larger pets is by installing a metal guard in the boot of the car. Bear in mind that this option works best for 4×4 vehicles, hatchbacks or estates where you no no canopy/top in the boot.

The main function for these guards is to keep the driver and passengers safe in the event of a collision, but they don’t offer as much security for your dog as a harness or a pet carrier. You should put a rubber mat down in the boot to give your pet more grip while the car’s in motion.

Does my dog need a seatbelt?

You might have images in your head of buckling the dog in so it sits upright, but most harnesses are essentially the car version of a lead. We recommend looking for dog seats that can sit in the bag and give your dog a space to relax. It also means you have a specific space to clean up after walks on the beach and such, rather than dealing with removing sands and all sorts from the passenger seat and footwell.

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And remember…

It might be one of life’s great joys to see a dog with his or her head out a car window, tongue out and lapping up the fresh breeze, but this is actually a big no-no.

Dust, dirt or insects could get into your dog’s eyes and nose, and there’s also a danger the dog could fall out of the window, or be injured by an oncoming vehicle or other obstruction. Open the window slightly to ensure your dog has a bit of fresh air, and be sure to pack the essentials like water and maybe some treats for longer journeys.