Does My Dog have to be restrained in the Car??



Did you know that, according to RSPCA statistics, around 5,000 dogs are either injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents per year? How bad is that?  I was gobsmacked when I read that and thought hhmmm just what are the laws regarding restraining your dog in the car?

My customers bring their fur babies to me via vehicle and some restrain them, some have a passenger holding onto them, some have the dogs in the front passenger seat, others in the back seat and some in the open boot area of the car, and I got to thinking, what way is the right way, what laws are out there to make sure our fur kids are safe when travelling?

We also take Billy travelling in the car (either RAV4 or Kombi Van), we secure him to the back seat of the RAV4 because of air bags in the front passenger seat, but in the Kombi (no air bags) we did a little drive with him secured in the front seat and he seemed to like that better as he could stick his head high and get the breeze from the window!!!!!

Either way it got me thinking about what we should be doing to make sure our fur babies are safe in the car.  Here’s what I found for the State of New South Wales.


On the NSW Roads and Maritime Services website I found the following:


 1. a driver, motor cycle rider, bicycle rider or passenger may not lead an animal (including by tethering/leading) while the vehicle is moving;

2.  animals should be seated or housed in appropriate areas; NOTE:   a driver must not drive with an animal in the driver’s lap;

3.  animals should be seated or housed in an appropriate area of the vehicle;

4.  a motorcycle rider must not ride with an animal between the handle bars and the rider.

5.  Dogs on the back of utes (utility cars) should be restrained either via a tether or cage so that the dog cannot fall off or be injured while the vehicle is moving.


The RMS also advises that police are able to fine a driver and issue demerit points if an animal is causing the driver to not be in full control of the vehicle.  I think the penalties are 3 demerit points and around $500.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act the RSPCA are also able to issue fines if an animal is injured because it was unrestrained, fines up to $5,500 and 6 months in jail.


Under the NSW Legislation – Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 No.200 – Carriage and Conveyance of Animals


(2A)(i) a person must not carry or convey a dog (other than a dog being used to work livestock), on the open back of a moving vehicle on a public street unless the dog is restrained or enclosed in such a way to prevent falling from the vehicle.

50 penalty units ($5,500) or 6 months imprisonment or both.

Correct way to restrain dogs on a ute.


This is what I found for New South Wales, there may be varying rules and fines in each State/Territory and I would say for each Country.

My recommendation would be to search your local Roads Authority to find out exactly what you are required to do by law regarding travelling with your fur babies in the car, and then bring some common sense to the table.


The Roads Authorities for Australia are:


New South Wales – Roads and Maritime Services

Australian Capital Territory – Transport for Canberra

Queensland – Department of Transport and Main Roads

Northern Territory – Department of Transport

Western Australia – Department of Transport

South Australia – My Licence SA

Victoria – VicRoads

Tasmania – Department of State Growth, Transport


So what does this mean??

It means that your dog does have to be suitably restrained so as not to distract the driver.

You can restrain your dog with a seatbelt or another device as long as it is restrained enough not to cause the driver distraction.  I’m yet to find anywhere where it says your dog HAS to wear a seat belt, HOWEVER it does have to be restrained from distracting the driver.

This, to me, is where Duty of Care (and Common Sense) comes to play; you wouldn’t put your kids in the car without a seatbelt so why would you keep your dog without one?

The moment of impact or heavy breaking can still cause a dog to become a heavy projectile within the car or cause it to go crashing through a windscreen, or can cause an airbag to go off and do damage to your unrestrained dog.

Restraining your dog properly can prevent the above from happening as well as stop it from jumping out of car windows, distracting other passengers which in turn distracts the driver as well.

We don’t drive or travel in a car without a seatbelt and nor should your fur baby.




To answer your next question, What do I use to restrain my dog while travelling in the car, head on over to my next post where I look into various ways of doing this.



Travel Safe

J & B at Woofalicious Tales


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