Can you use a normal dog crate in the car?

Normal wire mesh dog crates or plastic airline style crates are, let’s face it, considerably less expensive than rotomolded crash tested dog crates. But… can you use a normal dog crate in the car? Let’s take a look at some of the more pressing questions you might ask yourself if you’re thinking of using one.

will it fit

Will it fit?

Wire mesh dog crates are primarily designed to be used at home and the size is intended to fit your dog (see here how to choose the correct size dog crate)

So when we try and fit it into an average family car we might not be able to get it to fit. If we’re aiming to put it on the back seat it might be tricky to manoeuvre through the back doors which are nowhere near square, and trying to assemble a collapsable crate on the back seat can be just as difficult.

The square shape can be an issue in the cargo space too. It may fit the footprint of your luggage space but it might be too tall to close the rear door without the glass touching the crate (you’ll note that most vehicle dog crates have a sloped front for this very reason).

Is it safe?

The center for pet safety tested a standard wire mesh crate as part of their 2015 study on crash tested dog crates. It didn’t go well… here’s the video*

Midwest Wire Kennel – V15571 from Center for Pet Safety on Vimeo.

*sign into vimeo to view

Not only is the wire mesh flimsy but without any specific tie down points designed into it you’ll be attaching the crate to your car through the wires themselves which are merely spot welded to each other on most metal crates.

So if you’re choosing to use a normal crate in your car, bear in mind that it can be used to keep your dog in one place so as not to distract you whilst driving but it’s not to be used to add any additional safety in a crash.

Is it easy to clean?

Your dog is likely to be jumping into their car crate after wet walks, sandy walks, muddy walks and rolling in stuff walks, so it’s probably wise to consider if it’s easy to clean.

Most mesh crates have a removable plastic tray at the bottom that might contain some of your dog’s dripped muddy puddles but one shake and the mess is flying through the bars and onto your upholstery.

Covering the crate can help with this, an old beach towel is ideal as it’s large and absorbent.

Plastic crates do a little better at containing the mud and are usually lighter so easier to remove from your car, hose down, dry and replace.

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Will it be too hot/cold?

Enclosed plastic crates can leave your sandy, hot dog even hotter, and an open, highly ventilated wire mesh can leave your cold, wet dog shivering on the journey home.

hot and cold

Can the dog get into it?

One issue with using a crate not specifically designed for a vehicle can be the ease of entry and exit for the dog.

The doors can catch on the car’s trim stopping it from opening or scratching the plastics. They’re also sized a lot smaller than vehicle specific crates making jumping in and out more difficult too.

And from a safety perspective, crash tested crates tend to have 2 doors so that in a crash, if one door is jammed or misshapen then your dog can be removed from the crate via the 2nd door.

Can you use a normal dog crate in the car?


If you can securely attach it to your vehicle and it fits then yes it certainly satisfies the legal requirements of having your dog restrained whilst driving. However, it offers very little additional safety in the event of an accident for which you would need a crash tested crate.

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All articles on are written by qualified behaviorist and dog trainer, Cheryl Walker.


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