From everyday trips to weekend adventures, we love to take our dogs with us wherever we go. Since dogs don’t always understand the expectations of car travel, it’s important we take the necessary steps to keep ourselves and our beloved canines safe.
Restraining dogs in cars: What are the rules?
Restraining dogs in cars isn’t just about safer travel – every state also has their own laws and regulations that govern trips with pets. Getting the right dog car restraint for your state can prevent you from facing a hefty fine. In this article, we’ll break down dog car laws for each state and territory, and then give you some top tips for dog car restraints.
Dogs in car laws
New South Wales
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979):
- You’ll face a fine of up to 250 penalty units ($27,500) if the way your dog is carried in your vehicle results in an injury.
- You can’t openly carry your dog in the back of your vehicle without restraint or enclosure. If you do, you’ll face a fine of up to 50 penalty units ($5,500) and up to six months imprisonment.
Under the Road Rules (2014), you can be fined up to 20 units ($2,200) for not being in control of your vehicle – which includes having an animal on your lap.
- You can’t carry your dog in your boot. If you do, you’ll face a fine of up to $2,726.
- You can’t leave your dog unattended in the car for more than 10 minutes when the outside temperature is 28 degrees or more. If you do, you’ll face a fine of up to $3,634.80.
Under the Road Safety Rules (2017), you can be fined up to $909 if an animal obstructs you from having full control of your vehicle.
Under the Transport Operations (Road Use and Management) Regulations (2009), you can be fined up to $2,875 for not being in control of your vehicle – which includes having an animal on your lap.
Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 2010 an unrestrained dog can also be considered an unrestrained load, which can result in a fine of up to $2,875.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 you cannot transport your dog in a way that is likely to cause unnecessary harm. If you do, you can face a fine of up to $50,000, or even up to 5 years imprisonment.
Under the Road Traffic Code 2000 you can be fined up to $100 if you drive with a dog on your lap, or your dog interrupts or distracts your view.
Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 your dog must be physically restrained when being transported in a ute. Failing to do this can result in a fine of up to $1,250.
Under the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 you can be fined up to $205 if you drive with a dog on your lap, or your dog prevents you from having a clear view.
Under the Dog Control Act 2000 your dog must be restrained enough when travelling in your car that it is unable to fall or jump out. Failing to do this can result in a fine of up to $905.
Under the Tasmanian Road Rules 2019 you can be fined up to $1810 if you don’t have proper control of your vehicle. This means you can’t drive with a dog on your lap and your dog can’t prevent you from having a clear view.
Australian Capital Territory
Under the Animal Welfare Act 1992 your dog must be restrained enough when travelling in your car that it is unable to fall or jump out. Failing to do this can result in a fine of up to $3,200.
Under the Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017 you can be fined up to $3,200 if you don’t have proper control of your vehicle. This means you can’t drive with a dog on your lap and your dog can’t prevent you from having a clear view.
The NT is the only state or territory where you can transport your dog unrestrained. However, under the Traffic Regulations - Australian Road Rules 1999 you can be fined up to $3,240 and face up to 6 months imprisonment if you don’t have proper control of your vehicle. This means you can’t drive with a dog on your lap and your dog can’t prevent you from having a clear view.
How to safely restrain dogs in cars
Restraining your dog won’t just help you comply with dog in car laws, but is also safer for you and your dog.
There are a few different ways to safely restrain your dog. A dog car harness is one of the most common dog car restraints, and is easy to use. You’ll need a well-fitting harness for your dog, and a dog seat belt clip. Secure your dog’s harness, and then attach it to the seat belt clip. Then, click the clip into your seat belt plug. Don’t attach the seat belt clip to your dog’s collar, as this could lead to choking in case of an accident.
You can also use a dog car seat to limit your dog’s movement even further, while giving them an enjoyable view out the window. These are usually only used for tiny or small dogs, and in conjunction with a harness and seatbelt clip.
A new dog car restraint that has been increasing in popularity is the dog hammock. Fitting snugly into the back seat area of your car, these allow your dog to lie down and shift around while also restraining them and preventing them from falling off the seat. It also keeps your car clean from the perils of dog fur.
One of the most secure ways to restrain your dog is a dog crate for utes or other cars with enough space. These can be placed on the back seat or the outside of your ute. If you want to use this kind of dog car restraint, you’ll need to crate train your dog first to make sure they don’t feel anxious inside the crate. Ute dog boxes can be a good option for those who want to carry their dog outside the cabin of their use, but these must be constructed with safety in mind. To use these you’ll need the right tray, available from our Mitsubishi genuine accessories range, to support a dog crate.
Information supplied remains accurate as at April 2023.