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Law on Dogs in Cars UK

Law on Dogs in Cars UK: How to Avoid a Fine and Keep Your Pet Safe

What does the “law on dogs in cars UK” require from drivers, and what are the penalties for not securing your pet properly? Understanding Rule 57 of the UK Highway Code is critical for any driver with a dog.

Failure to comply with the law on dogs in cars UK can result in fines and even impact your car insurance.

This article provides a straightforward overview of legal guidelines for restraining dogs in vehicles and the serious consequences of non-compliance, ensuring both your and your pet’s safety on the road.

Law on Dogs in Cars UK

UK Laws and Regulations on Dogs in Cars

In the UK, the welfare of our canine companions on car journeys is not just a matter of common sense, but also of law. Rule 57 of the UK Highway Code requires dogs to be ‘suitably restrained’ in a vehicle when travelling. This crucial regulation is not only designed to keep your dog safe but also to prevent them from distracting the driver or injuring passengers.

But what does “suitably restrained” mean? The Highway Code suggests using:

  • a seat belt harness
  • a pet carrier
  • a dog cage
  • a dog guard

Each of these restraint methods has its own advantages and is suitable for different breeds, sizes, and temperaments.

Now, let’s delve deeper into Rule 57 and the potential repercussions of non-compliance.

Law on Dogs in Cars UK

Rule 57 of the Highway Code

Rule 57 of the Highway Code requires that dogs and other animals should be properly restrained while travelling in vehicles. This helps ensure their safety and the safety of all passengers. But this isn’t just about preventing Fido from jumping on your lap while you’re at the wheel. Properly restraining your pet is crucial to avoid distracting the driver and to protect your furry friend from injuries during sudden stops.

In essence, adherence to Rule 57 is essential for the safety of both the driver and the pets, and contributes to the overall prevention of accidents on the road. But what happens if we don’t follow this rule? Let’s explore that in the next segment.

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Turns out, not following UK laws regarding the transportation of dogs in vehicles can have serious implications. Non-compliance with Rule 57 can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 and may require the driver to make a court appearance. Moreover, driving with unrestrained pets can result in offences such as driving without due care and attention or dangerous driving.

And it doesn’t stop there. Failing to suitably restrain a dog in a vehicle can potentially invalidate the driver’s car insurance, adding a significant financial risk beyond fines. With these consequences in mind, let’s talk about how to choose the right restraint for your dog.

Law on Dogs in Cars UK

Choosing the Right Restraint for Your Dog

Choosing the right restraint for your dog is all about safety, comfort, and compliance with UK laws. From seat belt harnesses and pet carriers to dog cages and guards, each method has its unique benefits and suitability for different dog breeds, sizes, and temperaments.

Let’s explore each of these restraint methods in more detail.

Seat Belt Harnesses

If you’re thinking of harnessing your dog in the back seat, a seat belt harness can be a great option. These harnesses contribute to safety by:

  • Preventing ejection in a crash
  • Reducing the risk of injury upon airbag deployment
  • Coming with padded straps that distribute the impact force, protecting your dog’s body in the event of a collision.

However, it’s important to tether the harness properly in the front seat. This allows your dog to sit and lie down comfortably while preventing them from dangerously sticking their heads out the window. It’s also worth noting that not all dog seat belts are crash-tested, which could compromise their effectiveness in an actual accident.

Let’s move on to the next type of restraint..

dog in the car

Pet Carriers and Dog Cages

For those of us with smaller breeds or puppies, pet carriers and dog cages serve as suitable alternatives to seat belt harnesses. They provide restraint while minimising distractions to the driver and preventing injury to your pet. Even larger dogs, including older or infirm canines, can be comfortably accommodated using appropriate carriers.

Selecting a dog crate that is lightweight, easy to carry, and comfortable for your dog is recommended for car outings. The right size for a pet carrier is one that allows your dog to turn around and lie down easily. Always remove leashes and loose collars from the crate to avoid potential strangulation hazards during transportation.

Now, let’s explore the last type of restraint: dog guards, which can be as essential as your pet’s favourite toy.

Dog Guards

Dog guards are especially beneficial for larger breeds like German Shepherds. These metal grills prevent dogs from jumping into the passenger area, minimising driver distraction and keeping your dog safely contained within the boot space. In the event of an accident, dog guards can help prevent your pet from being thrown into the passenger compartment, potentially injuring passengers.

Most dog guards have the following features:

  • Easy installation, usually not requiring drilling or permanent vehicle modifications
  • Compatibility with specific vehicle models for a secure fit
  • No sharp edges that could harm your dog

These features make dog guards a convenient option for both dog owners and lease companies. When selecting a dog guard, ensure it meets these criteria for the safety and comfort of your dog.

Now that we’ve covered restraints, let’s look at tips for ensuring your dog’s comfort and safety during car journeys.

dog in the car

Tips for Ensuring Your Dog’s Comfort and Safety During Car Journeys

Ensuring your dog’s comfort and safety during car journeys is as important as choosing the right restraint. This involves maintaining proper ventilation, planning regular breaks, and knowing how to cope with motion sickness.

Let’s delve into each of these areas to help make your dog’s car journey a pleasant one.

Proper Ventilation and Temperature Control

A comfortable car environment is key for a smooth car journey with your dog. Proper ventilation and temperature control can prevent distress and heat-related health issues in dogs. Dogs are particularly vulnerable to heat stress, which can lead to serious consequences, including death, when they are contained in poorly ventilated areas like cars.

Making sure that windows are opened just enough to prevent your dog’s head from fitting through is important. Silver shade mesh reflectors can keep vehicles cooler, allowing air to circulate while reflecting sunlight. Now, let’s talk about the importance of regular breaks and hydration.

Regular Breaks and Hydration

Regular breaks are essential during car travel to reduce a dog’s restlessness and provide opportunities for exercise and fresh air. Not stopping every 2-3 hours for your pet to exercise and relieve themselves can lead to discomfort and health issues.

During these breaks, offer your dog water to help them stay hydrated and regulate their body temperature, especially in warm conditions. Planning your journey with breaks in mind can help prevent dehydration and stress, contributing to a more pleasant travel experience for your dog.

But what if your dog suffers from motion sickness? Let’s discuss that next.

Coping with Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can be a common issue for dogs during car travel. Consulting a veterinarian for appropriate anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medication can be beneficial for dogs that suffer severely from motion sickness. If your dog experiences car sickness, it’s advised to avoid feeding them for up to 8 hours before travel, and avoid feeding them while the car is moving to prevent choking or illness.

Desensitising or counter-conditioning dogs to car travel through short trips can help ease travel anxiety. Dogs tend to suffer less from motion sickness when facing forward in a well-ventilated car, so attention to their positioning and the car’s environment is necessary.

Next, let’s look at some common mistakes to avoid when travelling with your dog..

dog in the car

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Travelling with Your Dog

Travelling with your dog can be a joyous experience, but it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can put your pet at risk. Dogs can overheat within a matter of minutes when left alone in a car, leading to heat stroke. Therefore, it’s crucial to never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle.

Improper restraint, allowing your pet to travel in the front passenger seat, especially with an active airbag, or allowing your dog to stick their heads out of the window during travel can expose them to potential dangers. With these points in mind, next up is the legal requirement of microchipping and identification for dogs in the UK.

Microchipping and Identification Requirements

In the UK, it’s a legal requirement for dogs to have a microchip and to wear a collar with the owner’s name and address if they go outside. Any dog over 8 weeks old must be microchipped and wear a collar displaying the owner’s details.

This requirement aids in reuniting with the dog if it’s lost or stolen. Dog owners are legally required to keep their contact information up to date on the microchip. A phone number on the dog ID tag is recommended, and it is advised to include ‘CHIPPED & NEUTERED’ to deter thieves.

Now, let’s delve into some expert advice on car travel with dogs.

dog in the car

Expert Advice on Car Travel with Dogs

Navigating car travel with dogs can be easier with some expert advice in your toolkit. Introducing your dog in the car gradually, starting with them being comfortable around the car, then sitting inside with it stationary, and finally taking short trips, can make the journey less stressful for your pet.

With the right approach, time, and patience, car travel can become a positive experience for your dog. Finally, let’s consider the different car types and how they influence your dog’s travel experience.

Special Considerations for Different Car Types

As a dog owner, the type of car you own can make a significant difference in your dog’s travel experience. Hatchbacks, SUVs, and estate cars each have their unique features that can accommodate different dog sizes and needs.

For instance, the height of the car boot sill impacts how easily dogs of different sizes and ages can enter the boot. Cars with flush load sills offer an advantage by facilitating easier access for dogs entering and exiting a crate or the car boot.

Now, let’s wrap up with a summary of the key points we’ve covered.

dog in the car


Throughout this guide, we’ve explored UK laws and regulations on dogs in cars, how to choose the right restraint for your dog, tips for ensuring your dog’s comfort and safety during car journeys, common mistakes to avoid, microchipping and identification requirements, expert advice, and special considerations for different car types.

Remember, your dog’s safety and comfort are paramount during car travel. Make every journey a joyful experience for both of you by following these tips and guidelines!


What are the new rules for dogs in cars UK?

Make sure to restrain your dog in the car to prevent them from disturbing the driver. You can use a dog crate, pet carrier, dog harness, or a dog guard for the car’s boot.

Are dogs allowed in front seat of car UK?

Yes, dogs can travel in the front seat of a car in the UK as long as you use a seatbelt harness and take safety precautions like switching off the passenger airbag and moving the seat back as much as possible.

Is it illegal for dogs to be unrestrained in a car?

Yes, it is illegal for dogs to be unrestrained in a car. You must have them suitably restrained to avoid disturbing the driver.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with Rule 57?

If you don’t comply with Rule 57, you could face a fine of up to £5,000, potential court appearances, charges of careless driving, and it might even invalidate your car insurance. Be sure to follow the rules to avoid these consequences.

What are the different types of dog restraints for car travel?

When travelling with your dog, use a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage, or dog guard to keep them safe in the car. Make sure to choose the option that best suits your dog’s size and preferences.