Where to put a dog crate in a car (and how to attach it)

Which is safer, on the back seat or right in the trunk? Let’s take a look at all the options when it comes to installing a dog crate in a car and the safest way to attach them.

What’s the purpose of a dog crate in a car?


In some countries and states it can be illegal to have your dog travelling loose in the car so a crate will satisfy local laws in the instance.

Not that a crate will be the only option. Check your own local laws but usually, a harness or dog guard will also make travelling in a vehicle legal with your dog.


Do crates save the dog or the humans?

Having your dog crated (or restrained by a harness or dog guard) increases the safety for both the dog and the passengers and driver of the vehicle.

When your vehicle comes to a sudden stop, momentum means that the people, animals and all the items in your car keep travelling forward until something stops them.

For people it’s usually the seatbelt, followed by the airbag. If you have neither of these then it’ll be the windscreen…

For your dog, the aim is to make sure they don’t become a flying projectile which could injure you by slamming into you, or injure them by hitting the inside of the vehicle or being thrown from it.

An appropriately sized crate secured to your car will keep them in place and they will be thrown against the front bars of the crate but no further (this is why you want to choose the smallest appropriately sized crate possible for the car, so as the distance they are thrown forward is as small as possible)

a dog with his head out of a car window


In the event of a car crash, doors can pop open, windows get smashed and dogs can escape if they’re not restrained or crated.

This causes further safety issues if other drivers are having to avoid a panicked dog, but also it risks them being injured or killed despite surviving the initial impact.

What does crash tested mean?

Some crates are described as ‘crash tested’. Let’s take a look at what this actually means.

crash test dummies

When choosing a dog crate, you may come across the term “crash-tested” or “crash-certified.” This designation means that the dog crate has undergone specific safety testing to determine its ability to protect your dog in the event of a car accident. Crash-tested dog crates are designed to meet certain safety standards, and they offer added protection compared to standard crates during a car crash.

Here are some key points to understand about crash-tested dog crates:

  1. Safety Standards: Crash-tested crates are designed and constructed to meet specific safety standards, such as those set by organizations like the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) in the United States. These standards often involve rigorous testing to simulate the forces and impacts of a car accident.
  2. Testing Methods: Crash tests for dog crates typically involve using crash test dummies or models of dogs to evaluate how well the crate protects the occupant (the “dog”) during a collision. The crate should remain securely in place and protect the dog from injury.
  3. Secure Attachment: Crash-tested crates are often designed to be securely attached to the vehicle’s cargo area using seat belts or other restraints. This prevents the crate from moving or becoming a projectile during an accident.
  4. Durability: These crates are constructed with materials and designs that are more likely to withstand the forces of a collision. They are typically made of stronger, crash-resistant materials than standard crates.
  5. Certification: Some crash-tested dog crates may come with certification or documentation indicating that they have met specific safety standards. Be sure to verify the credentials and certifications associated with any crate you consider.
  6. Protection for Your Dog: The primary goal of a crash-tested crate is to protect your dog in case of an accident. It can help prevent injuries to your pet and reduce the risk of your dog escaping from the crate during a collision.

It’s important to note that not all dog crates are crash-tested, and there can be a significant difference in safety between crash-tested crates and standard ones. If you frequently travel with your dog in the car and prioritize their safety, investing in a crash-tested crate is a wise choice. Be sure to research the specific model and brand to ensure that it meets the necessary safety standards and is suitable for your dog’s size and needs.

When purchasing a crash-tested crate, also make sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and use the appropriate restraints to secure the crate in your vehicle, as proper installation is crucial for safety.

Where to put a dog crate in a car

Front Seat

If you put your dog on the front seat in a crate or harness, be sure to turn off the airbag as you would if you placed a baby carrier in there. Airbags are not designed to be safe so smaller humans or pets and it’s much safer to restrain them properly and let the harness or crate do the work.

Back Seat

The back seat area of vehicles are designed to protect humans travelling in them so it’s an appropriate space to travel with your dog too.

If you choose a harness, ensure the attachment is short enough to stop the dog from sliding off the seat and into the footwell.

Crates can fit well in this area as the front passenger seat can be slid backwards or forwards to ‘brace’ the crate and keep it in place (in addition to using the seatbelt to secure it down)

Trunk / Boot / Cargo space

The cargo space of vehicles is by far the safest space to place your dog to protect you and your passengers, however the cargo space is a crumple zone which was never meant to have humans in them and therefore dogs do not fare well in a rear end crash unless they’re in a crash tested crate which adds strength to the area (like having their own little roll cage).

Ultimately, the best location for a dog crate in a car is one that prioritizes safety, comfort, and convenience for both you and your furry companion. Make sure to use appropriate restraints to secure the crate, and always consider your dog’s specific needs and preferences when deciding where to place it.

How to easily fix a dog crate in a car

Using several ways to attach your crate to your vehicle will give you a ‘belts and braces’ approach to fixing in your crate and ensure that if one method fails in the event of a crash then the other will act as a failsafe.


They’re crash tested and already in the car so it makes sense to use them if you’re placing your crate on a seat.

My favourite (and easy) way of fixing a crate into a car is to put it on the rear seat behind the passenger seat, clip the seatbelt through the bars and pull tight, then push the passenger seat back so that the back of the seat is against the crate and holding it firmly against the back seat.

This allows you to pop your dog into the crate via the side door of the crate.

ratchet straps

Cargo straps /Tiedowns

The key to safely using tie-downs is where you attach them. A good rule of thumb is if the seat itself is clipped into it, or bolted to it, then it’s going to be strong enough to keep your crate and dog secure.

Be careful of tiedown points in normal domestic cars as they’re not normally rated very highly in terms of the force needed to break them. They’re really only designed to stop your shopping rolling around in the trunk, not save your dog’s life. A quick google for your make and model of car, or a read through the owner’s manual should tell you the breaking strain for the tiedown points.

Bungee Cords

Yeah, don’t use these. They’re just thick elastic bands. Imagine your car seat was attached to the car with a thick elastic band…

Non slip mats

These can be really useful if you have leather seats. Not only does it stop the crate sliding forward but it also protects the leather (or fabric) of your car seats.

Custom Crate Mounts

Some crates are designed for specific car models and will have a specific fixing kit that comes with them. These kits are designed to use the strongest points on your car to securely and safely attach the crate to and are bar far the safest way to install a crate.


If you’re not going to invest in a crash tested crate specifically for your make and model of vehicle then place your crate on the rear seat behind the passenger seat, clip the seatbelt through the bars and pull tight, then push the passenger seat back so that the back of the seat is against the crate and holding it firmly against the back seat.* If this still doesn;t feel secure enough, purchase some tiedown straps and use the places where the seats are attached to the car to tie them to.

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


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