By land, by air, or by sea, but let’s be real – most of the adventures you take with your furry best friend are probably by car! Before hopping in and setting off for parts unknown, make sure you learn how to secure a dog crate in a car so your bestie will be comfortable, secure, and, most importantly, safe throughout your whole journey.
Every state in the US has some sort of seatbelt law. Why? Simply put, because seatbelts save lives. While seatbelt laws apply to human beings in every state, only a handful of states require the same safety measures for our pets. According to Orvis, only Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Minnesota require dogs to be restrained while enjoying time as a passenger in a motor vehicle.
According to Soocial, dogs make up 58% of transported pets worldwide. More than 63% of pet owners prefer to travel with pets by car or pickup truck. 78% of pet owners throughout the United States travel with their pets at least once per year, and 53% of pet owners take their pets with them regularly while traveling. Taking a look at these pet travel statistics, it’s easy to see just how often we want our dogs to tag along with us on all our adventures.
The journey is part of the adventure, and for pet parents, it’s doubly important to consider both. Learning how to secure a dog crate in a car is a simple way to give yourself peace of mind.
Why A Dog Crate?
There are several reasons why pet parents may choose to travel with their dog crate. First and foremost, the dog crate is a comfortable safe haven for a crate-trained dog. Dogs of any age can develop car anxiety, and the crate serves as a place of comfort to provide a more enjoyable ride for them. According to the AKC, anxiety revolving around car rides isn’t as rare in dogs as some may think, and there are a number of strategies pet parents can use to alleviate some of that stress. Pet parents may opt for pheromone sprays, they may work on gradual desensitization, they may need to have motion sickness medications prescribed, and they can use comfort items (like their crate) to help associate the car with happy, soothing things.
Even dogs without any travel anxiety can be best taken care of in their crate. Every dog has their own instincts, and these feelings are so powerful that a dog may not think before acting on the impulses these instincts cause. According to Veterinarians.org, these are normal behaviors, and they don’t need to be stopped or corrected unless they create a dangerous situation. For a dog in the car, acting on these instincts could put you both in danger. A dog that catches the scent or sight of something interesting may choose to jump into the front seat, obstruct the view, try jumping out of a vehicle window, or otherwise distract a driver while they’re trying to safely maneuver the road ahead. Neither dogs nor their pet parents know when these instincts will kick in, and when those instincts may create a potentially hazardous distraction. Learning how to secure a dog crate in a car, and keeping your dog crated, eliminates these potential hazards in a safe and reliable way.
According to The Dogington Post, between 20 and 50 million people are injured in auto accidents each year. Accidents happen when you least expect them, and what happens if you find yourself in an accident with your furry best friend in the car with you? This is one of the most important reasons to learn how to secure a dog crate in a car. The secured crate will act like a seatbelt for your dog, ensuring they stay put, stay safe, and minimize risk of injury should the unexpected occur. A strong crate will retain its shape, and if it’s locked into the vehicle, it’ll keep its secure position as well.
What You’ll Need
In order to travel safely with your four-legged companion, you’ll need a few things before learning how to secure a dog crate in a car. First and foremost, start with your crate. A sturdy aluminum dog crate that is sized for your dog is key. Their crate should be strong, it should prevent them from breaking free or damaging the crate in an anxious situation, and it should provide them with a secure safe space. The American Kennel Club recommends opting for an aluminum crate as one of the safest travel protections for dogs while traveling in the car.
Next, you’ll need ratchet strap tie-downs, especially if you plan to travel with your dog in the bed of a pickup truck or in the cargo area of an SUV. In these areas there’s a lot of space for a dog crate to move around, and this places your dog in a potentially hazardous situation whether you find yourself in an accident or you arrive to your destination without incident. Make sure you choose a set of ratchet strap tie-downs that are crash tested, secure, and remain sturdy throughout years of use. Ratchet straps should never accidentally open, and webbing should never slip from the hook while the vehicle is in motion.
The Right Way To Secure Your Dog
Learning how to secure a dog crate in a car is easy, and it just takes a few steps:
Find the best position – In the back of an SUV or pickup truck, find a space that provides enough comfortable space for your dog crate, and make sure it’s in close proximity to an anchor for you to affix the strap. Before placing your dog crate, you may choose to place a piece of coarse fabric (like a carpet scrap) underneath the crate to further discourage the crate from moving around as you’re trying to secure it to your vehicle. In a smaller vehicle, this space may be between the back and front seats. In an SUV, this will likely be in the trunk or cargo hold of the vehicle. For pickup trucks, there is plenty of comfortable space in the bed of the truck.
Secure the crate – Once you have the crate positioned safely, find anchor points around your chosen spot to attach to the secure straps safely. Loop the fabric of the straps around your chosen point in the vehicle and attach it to the crate using the secure full S hook. Using multiple straps is recommended to keep your crate from slipping or sliding in any direction. Once the straps are adhered to the crate and the car or truck, use the ratchet mechanism to tighten the straps to a secure fit. The spring-loaded release of the ratchet should be lockable to ensure the ratchet never opens while in motion.
- Final security check – Before getting your dog in their crate, make sure your crate is completely secured. Walk around the crate pulling from every direction, and if the crate provides any give or movement, re-tighten the straps to ensure movement is no longer allowed. Additionally, keep a keen eye on where your straps are attached as you’re putting pressure on the crate. The parts of the vehicle where you attach the straps should not move or strain under any pressure. If you find parts of your vehicle moving or straining, remove the affected strap and choose another more secure location.
Crate Size Matters
Even if pet parents learn how to secure a dog crate in a car, the safety measures may not be up to par if the crate they’re using is too big or too small. Dogs are safest (and happiest) in a crate that is suitable for their size. According to A-Z Animals, your dog’s crate should provide them with enough space to stand up, turn around, and lay comfortably. This provides a secure and comfortable crate that won’t leave them too cramped, or leave them with too much unsecured space.
If you want to measure your dog to make sure their crate is a suitable and safe size, there’s a pretty easy method to follow. With a soft tape measurer, start from their nose and stretch the tape to just about the base of their tail. Write down your measurement and add two inches for the length of crate that would be most appropriate.
Once you’re finished with the length measurement, it’s time to look at height. To find the correct height for your dog, have your dog stand comfortably and measure from their front paw to the highest point of their shoulder. Once you have this measurement, add around six to eight inches for your ideal height range. For example, if you have a Husky who measures 22 inches tall at the highest shoulder point, you’re going to want to look for a secure crate with a height of around 28 to 30 inches.
Here's To A Lifetime Of Safe Adventuring
Few things go together better than a dog and a good old-fashioned car ride! To keep your best friend having fun and spinning those happy circles by the door every time you get the leash out, make sure their trips are safe, comfortable, and something to get excited about. The right crate secured by crash-tested and high-quality ratchet straps made with dogs in mind make all the difference. Learning how to secure a dog crate in a car is your ticket to the very best adventuring sessions.