If you take your dog with you in your car to work, school, or simply to the park or beach; you need to ensure they are safely restrained.
Most Aussies don’t know that each state has specific dog restraint laws that you need to abide by. These laws are in place to protect your dog in case an accident happens and to ensure your dog doesn’t cause an accident by distracting the driver.
Below are the dog restraint laws for each state, we recommend familiarising yourself with them and any states you’re interested in travelling to with your dog.
Dog Restraint Laws - Western Australia
If you’re in WA, the law says that an animal cannot be in a location or position where they can distract the driver and must be restrained.
The dog cannot be on the driver’s lap, in the front passenger seat, or unrestrained and able to wander around and potentially obscure your vision in the vehicle.
You can also be fined $5000 and even face jail time if your dog is injured if it’s unrestrained in your vehicle.
If you ride a motorcycle, your dog can’t be between you and the handlebars. Your dog can’t be in a position where they can interfere with your ability to control the bike, which means the only place they can sit is on the back.
There is no mention of if the dog needs to be in a special carrier. We highly recommend keeping your pets attached to your motorbike and in some sort of carrier to keep them safe.
The only exception to sitting between the handlebars is for farmers who are undertaking farming activities, and this is for a maximum of 500 metres.
Dog Restraint Laws - Queensland
In Queensland, there is no law that directly states you have to restrain your dog whilst you drive. However, you can be fined if your dog is injured because they are unrestrained whilst you drive.
Just because the dog restraint laws don’t explicitly say to restrain your dog, we strongly recommend you do.
It’s the best way to keep both you and your dog safe.
If you want to travel with your dog in the tray of your ute, the dog restraint laws state that your dog must be restrained. Stop your dog from falling out, jumping off, or being dragged away by a branch or sign by keeping them restrained to your vehicle with a leash or protective cage built for this purpose.
When tethering a dog to a ute, make sure the vehicle restraint is long enough that they can move, but short enough that they can’t reach the sides. Make sure it is attached properly to both the ute and the dog’s harness.
Do not restrain them to your vehicle with a choker chain, it is dangerous and could cause serious injury.
Also remember your dog won’t be comfortable standing on a hot ute metal tray and may burn themselves so it’s important to check this. If it is hot to touch with your hand, it will be hot for your dog’s paws too.
Dog Restraint Laws - New South Wales
In New South Wales, your pet must be adequately restrained and cannot distract the driver.
You will receive fines and lose demerit points if the driver is distracted and loses control of the vehicle because of an animal. The dog also cannot be on the driver’s lap.
Like other states, you must ensure your dog is safely restrained in the tray of a ute. You can receive fines and a jail sentence if they are injured because you failed to use vehicle restraints and keep them safe.
Dog Restraint Laws - Victoria
Victoria is similar to the states listed above, under their dog restraint laws your dog must not be able to distract the driver.
However, there are some laws you should be aware of that are national that Agriculture Victoria emphasise.
It’s illegal to put your dog in the boot of a car that is a sedan, you can, however, transport them in the boot of an SUV or wagon.
It’s also illegal to leave your dog unattended in a vehicle for longer than 10 minutes when the temperature is higher than 28 degrees. For utes, your dog must have an area that they can sit on that’s insulated and not metal.
Dog Restraint Laws - South Australia and Northern Territory
In South Australia, there are dog restraint laws that make it compulsory to keep your dog tethered to your vehicle if they are driving in the tray of a ute.
Both states are similar to the restrictions listed above, your dog cannot distract the driver and you can face penalties if they are injured in the vehicle.
Dog Restraint Laws - Tasmania
The dog restraint laws in Tasmania state that your dog must be restrained in a vehicle, they cannot sit on the lap of the driver and they must be tethered properly to a ute.
How to Restrain Your Dog Safely
There are many different ways to safely restrain your dog when travelling in a vehicle. Here are our top recommendations for various sized dogs and mobility:
1. Harnesses to Secure Your DogTo keep your dog safe whilst you drive, we recommend using a harness that lets you secure your dog with a seatbelt. Think of it as a dog seat belt.
This way, you can secure your dog in the backseat. This location is ideal because they have enough space to stand, sit and look out a window, plus it is well ventilated. In this position, they can’t distract the driver like they might in the front seat.
2. Try Using Mesh BarriersIf your dog is known to be a bit of a wiggle worm, invest in some mesh barriers to put between the front and back seats. These barriers allow you and your dog to see, but stop your dog from being able to climb into the front and take the driver's eyes off the road.
3. Dog Booster Seats for Medium-Sized DogsIf you have a small to medium-sized dog who loves to hop onto your lap to get a better view, try a booster seat. This allows them to see out of a window comfortably, without needing to bother and annoy a human. Plus they won’t need to scratch your doors because they can actually see.
4. For Heavy or Older Dogs Try a Lifting HarnessFor those who have a dog that is heavy, and potentially facing mobility issues, getting into the car may not be comfortable. There are harnesses available that allow you to safely lift your dog into your car without causing either of you too much discomfort.
A lifting harness works by evenly distributing the weight of your dog, so you can lift them easily and safely.
Keep Your Dog Relaxed in the Car
A car trip with your dog is much more enjoyable when they are relaxed and too occupied to distract you.
Keep them busy by bringing along their favourite toys.
Avoid enrichment toys that involve food, as this could result in an upset tummy.
Also avoid toys that are too loud, so as not to distract the driver with noise.
Browse our range of dog travel accessories, you’ll find great solutions for travelling with your dog. From mesh barriers to booster seats, we’ve got you covered!