Many people see this as the picture of Americana: driving on the open road, windows down, music on, with a dog in the back bed of the truck. The dog seems happy, standing on alert, looking at what’s going on around him and taking in all the sights and sounds. So what’s the problem with this idyllic picture? What’s the big deal about letting a dog ride in the back of a truck?

Well, it’s dangerous and can even be fatal. If a dog is riding in the back of the truck and you suddenly have to stop on your breaks, you take a turn too sharp, you forget to close the tailgate, this could prove fatal for the dog.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, it’s estimated that 100,000 dogs die each year from riding in the back of a pickup truck because the dog flies out after an accident, they accidentally fall out or they slide out the back of the open tailgate. 




If the dog happens to live, they could suffer from fractures, broken legs, and joint injuries, as well as suffer from severe cuts and bruises. What’s more, if the dog does survive the fall, in many cases they are hit and killed by other vehicles. Think securing him with a rope is any better? Nope. There have been many cases where the dog was thrown out the back of the truck, while still attached and was dragged on the road.

If you don’t slam on your brakes or get into an accident, the dog could jump out of the truck, especially if they are easily swayed by squirrels and other animals. You may think you know your dog, but it’s hard to know exactly how they are going to respond in every single situation.

Another concern with dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks: ears, eyes and nose damage. This may seem odd given how much dogs love to stick their heads out of a moving vehicle, but being in the open air and traveling at high speeds could cause damage to their face. Not only that, but the swirling of air in the bed of a truck could cause dirt, debris and insects to lodge themselves in the dog’s eyes, ears, and nose.



Dogs driving the back of pickup trucks has become such a big concern that a number of individual states that have banned this type of pet travel, with other states having bills pending. So if allowing a dog to ride in the back of a truck is dangerous … what are you supposed to do? What are some safe options for restraining your dog in a car or a truck?

How to Properly Restrain a Dog 

If you have a truck, it’s best to have the dog in the cab with you. If you have a truck with an extended cab, the dog should be restrained in the back and away from the windshield. For cars, there are many other options.

Small Dogs

For small to medium sized dogs, you may want to consider a booster seat. Booster seats can go in the front or the back seat and some are elevated higher so your pup can look outside in comfort and style. You can find booster seats online or at your local pet store.



Large Dogs

For larger dogs (or if your smaller dog prefers it), a dog car harness may be a good option. A dog car harness is essentially a seatbelt that safely secures them. They offer comfort padding and some can also double as a walking harness. You can find them online or at your local pet store. Just be sure to check to make sure you have the correct weight requirements!



Travel Carriers

Another option to safely travel with your dog is to invest in a travel carrier. Travel carriers are especially useful for cats… you really don’t want a loose cat in your car while you’re driving! But a carrier placed in the backseat or in the cargo area of a car might be beneficial if your dog becomes anxious during car rides.

If you and your dog go on lots of outdoor outings and you’re worried about dirt and dog hair in your car, there are many dog car covers available that can be placed in the backseat of a car. This also adds added comfort for when your dog, as well as keeps your car looking it’s best.

If none of these work for your dog or aren’t available to you, please consider leaving your dog at home, where they are safe. There is really no reason for why a dog has to ride in the bed of a truck. Regardless of which options you choose to safely travel with your dog, please remember to make sure your cat or dog has proper identification. And never leave your dog alone in a hot car!

If you know a dog lover that would be interested in ways to safely travel with their dog, be sure to share this post with them. It’s important to make sure we are always keeping our furry friends are safe and happy!

Lead image source: Robert Huffstutter/Flick