When you take car trips with your dog, you want to ensure their ride will be as safe as possible. Not having the best dog crate for the back of the car is not safe for you or your four-legged friend. If you have a child in the car, you wouldn’t leave it unsecured, would you? The same applies for your fur children. They deserve the same sense of security as your human children would. We’re here to teach you how to give it to them.
What is the best dog cage for the back of a car? The Gunner Kennel cage provides the best way to make sure your dog stays safe and secure as you travel to your destination.
In this article, you’ll learn all about crating dogs when you’re taking them on a road trip, including why you should secure them, how to do so, and the brands behind the best dog cages for the back of the car.
Why Trust What I Say?
I’m a ridiculously paranoid dog mom when it comes to the car.
I know for a fact that I am a terrible driver all around, so making sure my pride and joy is safe as we journey together is a priority.
I’ve personally done extensive research, consulted my vet, and talked to friends with dogs of all sizes to make sure the content in this article and the recommendations I make will keep your dog safe and secure in your car.
Keeping Your Puppy Safe
Maybe you just got your first dog, and you have no idea how in the world you’re supposed to transport it. Or, maybe you’re like me and just want to know for sure that you’re doing the safest possible thing for your dog.
Whatever the case may be, there are some basic things we’ll need to go over before you should look at the safest dog cages for back of the car.
Where Should a Dog Ride in the Car?
For some dogs, going for a ride in the car can make them very anxious. When a dog gets anxious, it’s going to seek out one thing: comfort, from you. In the car, the easiest way they’ll try to get comfort is by crawling onto your lap so they can snuggle. If you’re in the front seat, this is extremely dangerous.
My dog Max got a little anxious when in the car, especially because he associated a car trip with a trip to the vets! I have allowed Max to sit on my lap whilst driving, thinking it would help with his anxiety. The trouble is my dog didn’t stay still on my lap. He circled around on my legs. He moved around. He headed for the window on the driver’s side as it looked more interesting. It is very unsafe. I stopped after the first few experiences.
There’s a reason they don’t allow small children to sit in the front seat of the car, even when they’re secured: they could get seriously injured if something were to go wrong. If a small child wearing a seatbelt can go flying through the windshield in the case of an accident, what do you think will happen to an unsecured dog that’s sitting in your lap?
If you need to bring your dog in the car, always secure them into a crate or a cage in either the back seat or the cargo space of the vehicle. Never let them roam free in the front.
Keeping them near the back of the car will reduce the possibility that, in the event of an accident, the dog incurs serious injuries.
Can More Than One Dog Ride in a Crate?
At home, you may find that your two dogs prefer to be crated together when you go out or during their bedtime. As long as you’re positive that the crate is comfortable enough to fit both dogs, then that situation is fine.
Being in the car is a different story, though.
You should not crate two dogs together when you’re taking them somewhere in a car. Especially if you have anxious puppies, that anxiety can show itself as aggression.
If your anxious dog becomes aggressive, and the only outlet it has for that aggression is the other dog in its crate, you could wind up turning around and making an emergency trip to the vet.
In most cars, there is enough space for two dog crates. Even if you have to fold down the backseats to make the extra room, it’s worth it to know that both of your dogs are riding safe and sound in their separate crates.
How to Choose the Best Crate for the Back of the Car
There are a few general rules to follow as you try to gather ideas about the dog cage you’re going to choose for the back of the car.
Size and Weight Limits
This is the most crucial aspect of choosing a travel dog crate.
Dog crates are not a “one size fits all” kind of deal. If you squish a dog into a crate that’s too small for it, you’re going to end up with one uncomfortable and angry dawg.
The cage you buy will definitely come with, at the very least, a set of dimensions that you can use to determine whether or not that size crate is right for you.
Most crates will outrightly tell you the kind of dog that it was designed for, whether that be through breed specifics or just a weight limit.
It is not easy to buy the wrong size crate for your dog if you’re really paying attention.
It’s always better to go too big than too small when sizing up a car cage for your dog.
If you find yourself really in a bind and you really can’t make a decision, then you should size up. However, buying oversized crates just because it will give your pooch more space isn’t a great idea. Why? They’ll have more room all right, more room to slide around and be jarred if you encounter unwanted bumps.
The best option, just like Goldilocks found, is dog bed that is not too small nor too big for your dog.
Ease of Use
The next significant thing to be mindful of when buying a dog crate for the back of your car is how easy it is to use. If it’s a complete pain in the tail to move in and out of the vehicle, you’re going to be less likely to use it again, which could mean your dog goes unsecured.
Easy to use and easy to clean don’t always go hand in hand, though. When you have a dog that is prone to motion sickness, having a crate with parts that are easy to remove makes the cleaning process easier, too.
Traveling When Your Dog Gets Car Sick
Unfortunately, a lot of dogs end up taking a ride on the vomit wagon when they’re going for a ride in your car. However, it does not always have to be that way. There are certain precautions you can take that will help your dog refrain from becoming too ill during your trek to the park.
No Big Meals Before You Set Off in the Car
When you know you’re going to be traveling for a long time, try to give your dog their food in smaller increments rather than in a big meal. Less food in their stomach to begin with means that the food is less likely to come back up all over their crate and your car.
Open the Window
Try to let as much fresh air as possible when you’re traveling with a carsick dog. The fresh air will calm them and help them feel better. It’ll also distract them, opening their nostrils to all the new and different scents around them.
The Best Dog Cage for Back of Car
Now that you know the basics of how to travel with a dog, it’s time you learn the best thing to use in order to secure them while you ride.
We have for you a list of the five best dog cages for the back of the care that will keep your dog happy and safe so you can drive free of distraction and worry.
|Recommended Cages for the Car
|North America Variocage
|Elitefield Pet Crate
|Ruff Land Dog Kennel
|Frisco Soft Crate
1. Gunner Kennel
Gunner Kennel makes a dog crate that comes in a couple of different sizes to support different breeds. They make an intermediate size for smaller/ medium size dogs and a larger size for bigger dogs.
|Different sizes available
|Opaque on most sides
|Made in the USA
|High quality 5 star rating
Unlike a lot of its competitors, this dog cage is mostly opaque on all but the front side. In general, having a dog cage that has opaque sides is going to lessen the dog’s natural anxiety response as it will not be able to see its surroundings.
The crate is double-walled, constructed to be more durable than similar material used in Olympic-quality kayaks.
The weight of the cage will only help its case because a heavier cage will be less likely to slide around.
It also has slits along the sides that allow the fresh air into the crate, but do not allow the dog to escape.
Gunner Kennel is proud to say that they make all their products in America.
To make sure the quality of each cage is consistent and up to par, they put their products through numerous crash tests. The cage is reinforced with all stainless-steel hardware. The feet on the bottom will help the cage not slip and slide, and there are built-in pins that you can secure to the straps in your vehicle.
These travel kennels were the first ones to get a 5-star rating from the Center For Pet Safety’s certification program.
Check out the video below to see the Gunner Kennel in action.
2. 4*4 North America Variocage
|Single and double crates with dividers available
|No opaqueness on the sides of the cage
|Variety of sizes
|Made in the USA
|High quality 5 star rating
|Emergency escape hatch
These cages are unique in that they come in sizes that allow for more than one dog.
They have single crates, but they also have doubles.
The double crates have dividers that you can adjust depending on how much space your dogs need. If one gets claustrophobic and needs the extra wiggle room, it’s easy to move the divider in their favor.
Each product has a variety of sizes, ranging from a small to a “max” size.
Though there are not opaque sides to this crate, there are metal bars that will prevent a tiny escape artist from getting out and running amuck in your vehicle.
There is an emergency escape hatch, so you can get your dog and go in the event of a disaster.
In addition to crates for the back of your car, the brand sells beds, stairs, and harnesses for the dog. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop and the best overall durability, these are the best products for you.
3. Elitefield Pet Crate
Unlike most of the products on this list, Elitefield makes a soft pet crate. However, don’t let the fact that the pet crate is softer then the norm for these products fool you. Underneath that softness is a steel frame, which will hold up well if it gets jostled a bit.
|Better for car sick prone pooches
|Comes with free crate mat
|Crate and mat removable and machine washable
|2 side pockets for storage
|Collapses for easy storage
The softness of the crate is definitely a plus for parents of fur babies that are prone to getting car sick. Since the walls are fabric, it is well ventilated, so your dog will have more access to the fresh air than with a traditional crate. It also comes with a free crate mat, so your dog will be able to lie down and get comfortable at no extra cost.
The crate and the mat are both completely removable and machine washable. That alone makes it worth it–if your dog does end up taking a one-way train to Vomitville, you can easily clean it in the washer and dryer with some pet safe detergent. Once you’re done washing and using the crate, it snaps down into a very storable little package that you can keep in your car on the go.
This soft crate also comes with two side pockets, which I would use to store treats and extra poop bags. Overall, these seem like the best soft crate option for dogs that can’t handle being in hard crates and dog owners that want their dogs to be comfortable.
4. Ruff Land Dog Kennels
We frequent stores geared to the outdoors and travel pretty often. At one of these outdoorsy stores, we picked up this kennel to try it out.
|Different sizes available, including one for SUV
|Opaque on 3 sides out of 4
|Supports 350 pounds of weight
|Made in the USA
|Easy to clean out
|Good ventilation for dogs prone to car sickness
Like the Gunner Kennel crate, Ruff Land’s kennels are opaque on three sides and come in intermediate and large sizes, though there is a new size that just dropped recently. That size is more for fitting in the back of SUVs.
The crates are made in the USA.
The company claims their crates can support up to 350 pounds of weight.
It’s plastic, so it’s easy to cleanout.
It has pretty good ventilation for a dog crate that blocks off most of its sides.
The company says these kennels are stackable, and you could do that in theory, but in practice, it’s probably not the best idea. If you decide to stack them and do so incorrectly, then the top of the stack could come crashing down, and your hound could get hurt. I could easily fit two of these in the back of my Ford Escape, probably three with the seats down, so you probably don’t need to stack them.
5. Frisco Soft Crate
Frisco’s soft dog crate and the ones from Elitefield were neck-in-neck for me when I was considering crates.
|Variety of sizes
|Supports pets up to 85 pounds
|Durable – steel frame
|Easy to store
The sides are tinted, yet ventilated well, and the crate comes in a variety of sizes to support pets up to 85 pounds. They have a steel frame, three different doors, and were easy to store when not in use.
If you’re not looking for something with bells and whistles and you’d rather have something a little more basic for a little bit cheaper, this is it. It has all of the safety features of the leading soft crates, so you’re not sacrificing the safety of your dog just for a lower price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even after all of this, it’s natural that you still have questions.
These questions are commonly asked by dog owners, even after they’ve bought the best dog cage for the back of the car. Most of these have less to do with the product and more to do with traveling with the dog itself.
What Are Dog Car Dividers?
A dog car divider is something you place between the space of the front seats of the car and the backseat. Keeping them there allows you to effectively block your dogs from the front seats, which means that they won’t be able to distract you while you’re driving or climb into your lap while you’re in the passenger’s seat.
If you have a dog crate for the back of your car, you shouldn’t really find yourself in need of dog car dividers, though, as there would be no way your dog could access the front seats anyway.
Why Do Dogs Drool in the Car?
Dogs do a lot of drooling in the car for one of two reasons: they’re either really excited to be going for a ride, or they’re about to hurl.
If you notice your dog starting to salivate a lot immediately when you inform them you’re getting in the car, it’s more than likely just them getting excited about going for a ride, and you probably don’t need to worry about it, especially if your dog doesn’t really have a history of motion sickness.
However, if you catch them starting to really drool at a random point in your travels, then the dog is probably going to throw up.
Pull over, in that case. Take the dog out for a minute and let it walk around and get some fresh air. If it needs to throw up, better to do it on the grass on the side of a highway than in the back of your car midway through a 5-hour drive.
Yes, some dogs do feel anxiety when they have to go for a car ride. For some rescue dogs, this could be due to post-traumatic-stress-disorder that is triggered by being in a car.
For others, they just genuinely do not like the motion of being in the car, and not being able to snuggle up to their human in the front seat only adds to that stress.
Always keep in mind that dogs have no idea where they’re going. If you’ve rescued a dog, they could very well associate that car ride you’re taking to go to the park with the last car ride they took that landed them in the shelter. It’s natural for them to be skeptical, and you should be patient.
Even if your dog is not a rescue and has never experienced trauma of any kind, they can still get anxious. Maybe you took them to the vet, and now they don’t like car rides because they associate them with that negative experience. My older dog loves car rides and goes for rides daily, but the puppy we recently adopted despises them.
Every dog is different.
What’s the Best Way to Help Dogs with Motion Sickness?
This was touched on briefly in a previous section, but there are a lot of ways you can help your dog learn to control their motion sickness and start building on the idea that care rides are a positive experience.
The most obvious way to help a dog prone to motion sickness is to contact your vet and see what they think the best course of action is for you and your pet.
Depending on the severity of your pet’s illness, they’ll give you tips as to the best way to avoid any mid-ride sickness, or they’ll prescribe medication, usually Dramamine, that can either lessen symptoms or stop them altogether, depending on the dog.
If you would rather try to remedy it yourself before resorting to going to the vet, there are a few home remedies you can try. Car sickness in dogs is often an anxiety response, so you can try to bring their favorite blanket or a favorite toy in the car. That might provide them comfort, just like a baby finds comfort from its favorite blanket.
The best thing you can do when you notice a dog becoming car sick is to stop the vehicle if you can. Letting the dog get out into the fresh air and take a bathroom break will calm their stomachs. If you’re in a situation where pulling over just isn’t an option, then at the very least, roll the windows down and let in some fresh air.
What Happens if I Don’t Secure my Dog?
Danger to your dog
Unfortunately, bad things can happen if you decide you don’t want to secure your dog when you’re going for a ride in the car. Dogs will not be sitting buckled in with a seatbelt, so they’ll just be loose and roaming around the car.
That is incredibly dangerous for the dog. Since they’re unsecured in the car and roaming freely, they’re more likely to get hurt, even if you drive as safely as possible. Anything can happen while you drive. Sudden stops or unexpected sharp turns can send your puppy flying through the car, which is when limbs get broken and, if they didn’t have it already, car anxiety and sickness begins.
Danger to the driver
Not securing your dog in the car is super dangerous for the driver, too.
A dog can turn into a projectile in the case of an accident. If your heavy dog has been left to its own devices in the backseat, it could go flying straight into your head if you get into an accident or make a sudden stop.
In addition, having a dog that’s climbing into your lap and digging around in your back seats is really distracting and can impact how safely you’re driving.
Can I Just Use a Net Instead?
In theory, you could secure your dog in the cargo space of your vehicle with a net to keep them there. There are companies that sell this kind of product. Usually, companies trying to sell nets for the back of your car are marketing them as being able to give your dog the space to feel like they can move around, but nets don’t provide any extra safety for your dog.
If you are just using a net, there is no guarantee that the dog won’t go flying through it if something goes wrong. That means that the dog stays in danger, and your driving will remain distracted.
Having your dog contained in a hard cage is ideal in emergency situations. In the event that you find that you need to grab your dog and go, opening the back of the vehicle and pulling the entire mechanism out in one go will be ideal. That way, you’ll have something to contain your dog in if you need to wait for emergency services.
Overall, a net is not recommended in place of a hard cage when you’re transporting your pups. It’s simply not as safe, and your dog deserves to be just as safe and secure in the car as you are.
A Secure Dog Is A Happy Dog
Keeping your dog safe can make their experience in your car a happy one. When your dog has fun in the car, you will be able to get them to go places easier, even if they don’t want to go there, like to the v-e-t.
Overall, any of these crates will make your tail wag with their safety ratings and durable components. Knowing what your dog likes is key to finding a crate they’ll love so that you can ride into the sunset and live happily ever after.