Features of a dog-friendly car

Find your next dog-friendly car with this handy checklist

Dogs continue to be Australia’s most popular pet, with around 40% of households owning at least one dog. They are much more than just a pet – they’re our fur babies. So, if it’s time to upgrade your car, keep your pooch safe, comfortable and happy when travelling. Check out our top tips to take into consideration when selecting a dog-friendly car.

It's important that you adhere to all the rules and regulations when travelling with your pet in the car and that it’s secure and comfortable. We recommend checking your state or territory laws to familiarise yourself with the legalities of driving with a dog in the car.

Boot space

A large boot space is handy for when you need to load the car with other items when travelling with your dog, such as a leash, water and food bowl, toys, food, treats, towels, blankets and more.

Your dog can also travel in the open cargo area of your wagon or SUV behind a cargo barrier or in travelling crates. Make sure there is enough room for your pet, so it won’t feel claustrophobic and there is space for it to lay down, stretch its legs out and get comfy.

We recommend you check the rules in your state or territory with regards to appropriate areas of the car where your pet should be seated or housed.

Boot opening

Your dog will need some extra space when jumping into the car, so look for a vehicle with a large boot opening.

Low to the ground

Look for a car that’s lower to the ground to make it easy for your dog to jump up onto the back seat or boot. If your dog is older or too heavy to carry, consider getting a dog ramp.

Rear air vents/air flow

Consider a car with a rear air conditioning to keep cool air circulating throughout the vehicle. This will help keep your dog comfortable and cool and prevent them from overheating.

Tinted windows

This will help keep the temperature inside the car down.

Extra storage

Look for a car with plenty of storage lockers, cubbies, consoles, netting and pockets – perfect for stashing away leads, harnesses, towels and toys.

Extra space

Large cars, such as SUVs, are perfect if you have a bigger dog, such as a great dane or a golden retriever.

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Hard-wearing upholstery

If your dog travels in the back seat, make sure that the upholstery won’t collect hair and can be easily cleaned. Leather is easier to clean and is more durable, but it can get scratched by dog nails when they get in and out of the car. Cloth is great when it comes to scratches, but it can get dirty easily and can be harder to clean.

Consider protecting your upholstery with a rug, towel or a specially fitted pet seat cover.

Window/child lock

Window and child locks are great if you have an excitable dog that may accidentally lean on the window or door opening mechanism while they’re trying to look out of the window. We recommend fitting a harness for your dog in the car to prevent it from jumping out the car window.

Car colour

According to research, silver and white cars can reflect up to 60% of the sun’s rays, while dark coloured cars can only reflect around 5% of the sun rays.

Keeping your dog safe

While we’re on the topic of driving with a dog, these below points may seem obvious, or are often overlooked:

  • Never leave your dog sitting inside a parked car during summer!
  • Driving with your dog unrestrained is illegal in most Australian states. We recommend you check the rules in your state or territory. An unrestrained dog is not only a distraction to the driver, but it increases the risk of serious injury to the dog, driver and other passengers in an accident.
  • Don’t drive with your dog in your lap.
  • Keep your dog safe, secure and comfortable while in the car. The law varies from state from state, and we recommend checking the links below to ensure you’re informed.

Is it time to upgrade your car?

Don’t have a dog, but still keen to upgrade to a car with more space? Check out our SUV buying guide with tips to help you find the best SUV for you.

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