Do you leave your dog in the car to roam freely? Odds are, you risk having him severely injured in the event of an abrupt stop or crash. Just as you would fasten your seatbelt for safety, your dog needs a crate for safety.
Looking for the best dog crate for car backseat? Here are our top 3 recommendations:
- Best all-rounder crate – Gunner Kennel
- Best for small dogs – Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
- Best for large dogs – 4×4 North America.
Haven’t used a dog crate in your car backseat before? You’re probably wondering which is the best crate? We have covered all it takes to buy the best dog crate for car backseat in this article. Whether you barely know what a dog crate is, or you’re looking to get the best crate for your dog, this article contains valuable information for you. Let’s get started!
What is a Dog Travel Crate, and How Does It Secure My Dog?
If you’re a dog owner, you already know the essence of a dog crate. You want to keep your dog in a crate to prevent unnecessary movement.
A car backseat crate is more or less a mobile cage, where you can put your dog to restrict unnecessary roaming. A car dog crate is basically meant to protect your dog during a car ride.
Leaving your dog to roam freely in the car can be dangerous, especially when an unusual event occurs. If your pet is not protected during that event, the force could pull your dog through the windshield. This may result in injuring you, other persons in the car, and your dog too.
Here’s a slow-motion video showing what happens to a dog secured with a safety belt when the car stops suddenly. It’s scary! I hope it’s scary enough to make you think twice about your dog’s safety in a car.
Also, unrestricted dogs in a car can distract you while driving. This may force you to take your eyes off the road for a few seconds to correct your misbehaving dog.
While you could be fast enough to re-focus on driving safely after correcting your misbehaving dog, it doesn’t happen all the time. It can result in an accident. So, you want to put your dog in a crate before you begin the journey—to keep you and your dog safe.
Choosing a Dog Crate for Car Backseat: What to Consider
If you’ve decided to get a car backseat dog crate, there are certain things you need to consider to ensure a good purchase.
A dog crate should be crash-proof to guarantee the safety of your dog. So you want to make sure you purchase one that has passed the crash test. But how can one verify if a dog crate has passed the crash test? You’re going to find the answer in this article, including other factors that will guide you on which crate is suitable for your dog.
What size of dog crate is suitable for my dog?
There are different sizes of dog crates for your car backseat on the market. You want to get the one that fits with your dog.
Find out the size of your dog and get one that is big enough for your dog to roam about a bit. You want your dog to be able to sit, stand, and turn around in the space.
But the crate should not be too large: something that fits and allows a little space for stretching. Basically, you should get a dog car crate that is not longer than 6 inches.
To know the size of your dog, follow these measuring tips:
- Length. Begin the measurement from the tip of your dog’s nose to the end of the tail. When you get the size, add extra inches to the measurement obtained—perhaps two to four. This is to maximize the size of the crate for comfort.
- Height. Start from the ground to the tip of your dog’s head and ears. This is to make sure that your dog stands up easily while inside. Add some extra inches too for enhanced comfort.
Keep in mind that your pet needs to turn around or stretch while inside the crate.
And more importantly, you want your pet secured inside. So, do not overextend the inches. Otherwise, the purpose of getting a car backseat dog crate is null as your dog can still get injured in a much wider crate when an accident occurs.
What distance are you looking to travel with your dog?
You probably have heard of dog motion sickness.
Yes, that’s right: dogs can get sick in cars just like humans do. It is real, especially if your dog is not used to traveling for long hours in the car.
Before you buy a car back seat dog crate, you have to define how you want to use it. Are you just going to use it for a short car ride with your dog, or are you aiming to travel with them for extended hours?
The response to these questions should inform your decision to opt for a dog travel crate. The size alone doesn’t account for comfort. You also need to consider the materials the crate is made of. This could help prevent motion sickness.
Are all dog crates safe?
Not all dog crates on the market are safe.
Comfort inside a crate is secondary to safety. The most significant reason for getting a crate is to protect you and your dog from injury in the event of an accident. An unrestrained dog may become a flying projectile inside the car when an accident occurs.
The dog may collide with you and other persons in the car, which can injure you, the dog, and other persons as well. So, by protecting the dog, you also protect yourself. And that’s not all—you can prevent your dog from distracting you while driving.
However, you should know that your dog can still be in a crate and get injured when an accident occurs—as the crate will go flying. This happens when the crate is not crash-proof.
So, the best thing you want to do is to ensure that you get a dog crate that has passed the crash test. Otherwise, you’re putting your dog at risk even with a travel crate (non-crash tested or failed crash test).
How do I know if a dog crate is crash-proof?
Like other dog safety products, a crash test is also carried out on dog crates to ensure the dog’s safety when traveling. This test is conducted by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), a non-profit research organization established in 2013. CPS started testing dog safety products after realizing that there were no measures for testing pet safety gadgets.
The video below shows crash test simulations of three dog crates:
- Hard plastic dog crate sitting on top of the back seat of a car (at the 1:30 mark and 1:57);
- 4×4 North America Variocage (one of our recommendations) in the back of the car (2:18);
- Soft-sided dog crate sitting on top of the back seat of a car (2:51); and
- Gunner Kennel crate (another one of our recommendations) (3:26).
So, to know if a dog car crate is crash-proof, you should check if it has been tested by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS). You can find this information on the product description.
However, you cannot trust all products that claim to have been tested by the CPS. Some manufactures are mainly using it as a marketing technique to get more sales. You should not fall for this—we have recommended three dog travel crates in this article—that have actually passed the CPS test.
Also, to be sure that you’re buying a brand that is crash-proof and not just marketing gimmick, check feedback from existing users.
Online marketplaces such as Amazon have tons of users’ feedback on products they have used.
Also, there are other popular reviews sites like TrustPilot, Yelp, etc. Also, Google reviews.
The goal is to find a place where many users have left feedback about the product you intend to buy and ensure the platform is trusted.
What Are The Features To Look Out For in a Dog Crate?
You also want to consider the features of a travel crate before buying. If you have no idea what features you need in a dog travel crate, here are the essential features to consider.
Features to Look out for in a Dog Crate
Top 3 Crash-Tested Car Backseat Dog Crates
|Best All Rounder||Gunner Kennel||Check price|
|Best for Small Dogs (up to 15 lbs)||Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed||Check price|
|Best for Large Dogs||4×4 North America||Check price|
Best all-rounder crate – Gunner Kennel
The Gunner Kennel dog travel crate is a versatile crate when it comes to size. It is suitable for small, medium, and large dogs. For large dogs, it houses dogs up to 75 lbs and 110 lbs.
The different sizes available include G1 for small, G1 medium, G1 intermediate, and G1 large. All sizes are quite durable.
However, for protection against accidents, only the G1 intermediate has passed the Center for Pet Safety crash test. The G1 intermediate still works for large dogs and other medium size dogs.
It all depends on the size of your dog. You should measure your dog to know the size before you proceed to get a crate.
More so, the G1 intermediate is also proven to be a bulletproof crate—after it was tested with a 12-gauge gunshot by the manufacturer. This further shows how sturdy the crate is and can safeguard your dog in case an accident occurs. Of course, it is crash-proof! And it’s suited as a dog crate for the rear car seat.
Comfort is also considered: the inside of the crate is spacious and lets your dog stand or turn around and stretch.
The outside is made with a robust double walled-plastic. Also, it features sturdy connection straps, dual locking feature, and rubber grip feet. This ensures its durability and protection for your pet.
It is spacious enough to keep your dog comfortable. You can add toys inside to keep your pet busy and happy.
The G1 Kennel is crash-proof, as examined by the CPS. The manufacturer also tested and confirmed it to be bulletproofed. This shows the crate can protect your dog in the event of an accident.
It is available for small, medium and large dogs.
Gunner Kennel crate - pros and cons
Gunner Kennels is the manufacturer of this crate. based in the U.S., they specialize in manufacturing pet safety products and other pet accessories. The majority of their products have been tested and confirmed by the CPS.
Best crate for small dogs – Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed is perfect for a car back seat dog crate.
While it serves as a dog crate to keep your dog safe and comfortable in the car, it can also be used as a pet bed in your home and a dog carrier.
The Mini size suits small dogs that weigh up to 7 lbs. The Medium is suitable for dogs up to 15 pounds.
Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed has been certified by the Center for Pet Safety. That means you’re sure of your pet’s safety when traveling with him in this crate.
Also, many users have attested to the sturdiness of Sleepypod in car crashes.
If you have a small dog, you want to choose this crate as it is designed mainly for small dogs with exceptional features for comfort and safety.
Sleepypod is made with tough materials to withstand any crash and also last longer. It’s specifically made with nylon used in luggage for the outside of the pod. The inside is made with polyester that is ultra-plush.
This crate is more or less a mobile bed, the inside materials—ultra-plush padded polyester, makes a comfortable bed for your pet.
Re: safety, this crate has been crash-tested by the CPS and confirmed to keep your dog safe in the car.
Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed - pros and cons
Sleepypod is a top pet safety products manufacturer with branches in the USA, Canada, and Europe. All their products undergo in-house testing as well as tests by professional bodies to authenticate their safety.
Best crate for large dogs – 4×4 North America
If you own a large breed, you may want to consider going for the 4×4 North America crate.
While it is famously known to house large dogs, the crate also features other sizes for small and medium-size dogs.
All sizes can be adjusted to fit with your dog, so you won’t have to be too exact with your dog size as you can adapt it to your dog’s size. It can also be adjusted to fit with your car backseat.
If you are looking more for a dog cage for the back seat of a car rather than a dog crate, the 4×4 is more that style.
4×4 North America is quite durable. It is designed with sturdy materials like gauge still to keep your pet safe while in the car. The materials also ensure its durability—so you do get value for your money.
This crate has also undergone the crash test and proved to be safe. And interestingly, it was crash tested with government standards in Europe and the USA. What this means is absolute peace of mind for a dog owner traveling with his pet in this crate.
More so, the crate comes with hydraulic motions springs for easy locking and opening of the doors.
It is also equipped with an emergency escape hatch for extra security.
It is constructed with gauge steel. That’s a tough material that guarantees the longevity of the product as well as its protection for your pet.
It is size adjustable. The crate can be adjusted to allow space for your dog to be a bit free inside–for comfort. Users may decide to add a mat or toys inside for enhanced comfort.
It is ideal for keeping your pet safe—successfully passed government standards crash test.
Ideal for large dogs with other sizes for small and medium-size pets. Each size can also be adjusted to fit with your pet.
4x4 North America - pros and cons
4×4 North America is manufactured in the USA by 4×4 North America, Inc. The company is famous for producing several other good quality pet safety products—usually tested and confirmed to be safe.
Are There Other Ways of Protecting a Dog in the Car?
Yes, there are other means of protecting your dog when traveling in a car. But we all want the safest means, and nothing beats a crash-proof dog crate for a car backseat.
Nonetheless, here are other ways to secure your dog in a car.
Dog Seat Belt
You can use a dog seat belt to buckle up your pooch before you start a short car journey. Seat belts for dogs can help restrict your dog from roaming around.
Most dogs’ seat belts usually come with straps that can fit into the car frame.
However, this only works if your dog is well behaved. Some dogs love to chew the straps. You know what that means–the dog automatically regains freedom to roam inside the car, which could be very risky.
Harnesses work with dog seat belts.
Most seatbelts require a harness to buckle the dog firmly while also giving some space to stand, sit or stretch a bit.
Harnesses are attached to a seat belt to confine your pet to a specific position while traveling.
Seat belts and harnesses work hand in hand and have the same downsides. Your dog can chew the straps.
Using a dog guard in the boot
You can also fit a dog guard in your car boot/trunk to prevent your dog from being thrown forward in the event of an accident.
The guard should bolt to the floor and roof of your vehicle to avoid being knocked out of position.
However, not all guards will fit your car. It can be difficult to find one.
Another way to protect your pet in the car is to install a backseat barrier.
This works mostly for larger dogs that may struggle to remain calm when restrained.
The barrier helps to protect your dog on the backseat in case you suddenly brake or an accident occurs. However, this isn’t crash-tested, and may not help during an accident.
The barrier also comes with a strap that should be attached to your car frame.
Tips for Making Your Dog Comfortable While in the Crate
While a dog crate is designed to keep your dog secured and comfortable in the car, it doesn’t work for all dogs.
Your dog may find it challenging to get accustomed to a crate, especially for the first time. Here are a few tips to keep your dog comfortable in the car.
Dogs love toys, as you may know already. Get his favorite toys and put them inside the crate. This can keep your dog busy throughout the journey.
Some dog crates may come with a floor surface that keeps your dog comfortable. But if you do not have such a crate or you think the surface is not good enough, you can get a mat for this purpose.
A mat will make the flooring a lot more comfortable for your dog. Also, your pet can feel at home with a mat inside the crate.
Train your pet at home first
Another good way to keep your pet comfortable in a crate is to get him used to a crate. Train your pet at home to get used to crating so that it won’t be strange for him to remain inside a crate for more extended periods while traveling.
What To Do If Your Dog Gets Car Sick
If your dog is not used to traveling in the car, especially for longer hours, odds are your dog may get car sick. It is common among young dogs. Signs of car sickness in dogs include:
- Excessive drooling
- Licking lips or Smacking.
If you notice any of these signs in your dog while traveling, there are some measures you can take prior to the car trip to prevent motion sickness and some measures to take during the car trip.
What to do during the car trip
Make the ride more comfortable for your dog.
If you do not already have toys, get toys for your dog to keep him busy.
Dog crates may help prevent your dog from falling sick. In the case of vomit, the crate can help contain the vomit.
Also, get anxiety wraps and dog appeasing pheromones for your dog. They help reduce feelings of anxiety.
Your dog’s tummy may get upset by the motion of a moving car.
This usually happens when the dog is not able to see the road. So, you want to make sure your dog can have a view of the road. But this should be from a retrained position—likely inside a crate.
While you may be fine inside a locked car for several hours, your dog may not feel good without fresh air. You should open the windows a bit for your dog to sniff some fresh air.
What to do before the car trip
Here’s a video from vet Chris Brown with some useful tips.
This is more of a preventive measure. You should feed your dog several hours before you embark on a journey. This reduces the chances of vomiting and will possibly not feel sick.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between a dog cage and a dog crate?
A dog crate and cage may almost mean the same thing.
However, the difference is that a dog crate is portable, and often used for transporting a dog in a car or airplane.
A cage, on the one hand, is used at home, it’s large and not portable to put inside a vehicle. A dog cage is used to contain a dog—with a large space for playing, defecating, etc.
Think of a dog crate as a mobile cage.
Why aren’t wire crates suitable for transporting dogs in cars?
You already know the essence of putting your dog in the crate is to protect him from getting injured or killed in the event of an accident. This is what a wire crate can’t offer you. They are not crash-proof and have been reported to collapse quickly. Also, the metals may, in turn, injure your dog.
How do you secure a dog crate in a car?
When you have your dog with you in the car, like children, you want to know they will be safe and secure should the car shift or slide in the event of an abrupt stop.
Unless the manufacturers specify on their instructions that the crate should rest on the back seat of the car and be buckled up – don’t do it. Instead, if the crate fits, place it flat on the floor of the back seat of the car, directly behind the front seat. This is how to ideally secure a dog crate in a car.
What are the safest dog crates for car travel?
The safest dog crates for car travel in the back seat are the 3 crates we’ve recommended in this article:
- Gunner Kennel
- Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
- 4×4 North America.
Is there such a thing as crash-tested dog crates for cars?
Yes. The 3 crates we recommend in this article are crash-tested by the Center for Pet Safety.
Are non-crash-tested dog crates OK to use?
It’s risky to use a dog travel crate for the car that is not crash-proof or has not been tested at all. It means you’re putting your dog at risk.
What should I put in the crate during the car ride for my dog?
Your dog needs comfort while in the crate. You should put items like toys and mats to keep them comfortable.
Do I put food or water in the dog crate during the car ride?
To avoid car sickness, you shouldn’t feed your dog just before, during a car ride or while traveling. It is best to feed your dog several hours before you hit the road. So, do not put food or water inside the crate in the car.
How do I reduce dog anxiety in the car?
You should keep your car temperature cool inside. Also, lower the windows for fresh air and always feed your dog several hours before the journey. Medications can also help, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication.
Keen On Crates?
There are many different kinds of dog crates on the market. We’ve covered crates that enable your dog to travel safely in cars in this article. Maybe you are looking for a dog crate to put at the back of your car and not on the back seat? We’ve got you covered. Click here to read about the safest dog crate for large dogs and large cars.
We have other articles on Outdoor Dog Fun that would make an interesting read if you are looking for or have a crate at home for your dog. We hope you find these articles an interesting read.
- Best crate buying guide
- Leaving water in a dog crate at night – good or bad idea?
- It’s getting cold: keeping your dog warm in their crate at night
- You’ve heard some toys aren’t safe to leave inside a crate. Find out why.