Often the last thing on our minds when we have a day out with our pooch are the legalities and safe practices when travelling with dogs. Although here at Direct Vet Services, we are sure that our clients know how to make sure their dogs are safe, it never hurts to be reminded, so we’ve condensed all you need to know into this easy ‘DO’s and DON’Ts’ guide. Feel free to favourite this to refer to if you ever need to freshen up on general tips and when you’d like to take your pooch for a spin.

Typical cause for concern: Heat stress

Whether a dog is inside or on the back of an open-topped vehicle, dogs can suffer from heat stress or exhaustion. It is important to be aware that dogs . just like children, can become dehydrated or even die from heat stress or exhaustion, especially when left inside a vehicle which can heat up quickly. Your pooch must have access to water and be protected from the heat.


  • Provide your pooch with plenty of water
  • Keep windows partially down for ventilation whilst driving, or turn the aircon on
  • Take your dog with you when you leave the vehicle.
  • Leave windows partially down for ventilation if you need to leave your dog inside of a parked vehicle for a short time.


  • Leave your dog unattended inside a car. Regardless of the temperature. This is ILLEGAL under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) Act and Regulations.
  • Leave your dog on the back of a vehicle with no protective insulating material. Regardless of the temperature. This is ILLEGAL under POCTA as your dog could be injured from hot metal.

Travelling with a dog on the back of a vehicle

Each year dogs are injured or killed while travelling on the back of open and moving vehicles. Common injuries dogs are at risk of are, falling off the back of a moving vehicle, being dragged alongside a moving vehicle, being struck by other vehicles, or jumping off themselves from a moving vehicle. The law in Victoria requires dogs on utes to be restrained via either a tether or a crate. This prevents a dog from falling off the vehicle or becoming injured when the vehicle moves. Dogs that are actively working livestock are exempt from this rule.

Using a tether Do’s & Don’ts:


  • Use a lead or chain as a tether, preferably attaching them with a dog harness/collar. Also, worth considering that tethering dogs with a neck collar in the back cabin could lead to cervical spine issues.
  • Attach your tether to the vehicle and the dog’s harness/collar using swivels to prevent tangling.
  • Correctly judge length of tether. It must be long enough to allow your dog to lie down and sit. However, the tether must be short enough to prevent your dog from getting onto the cabin of the vehicle, reaching the sides of the vehicle, and reaching passers-by.


  • Utilise a long tether. Your dog could be dragged or strangled if it falls off the vehicle.

Using a crate Do’s & Don’ts:


  • Use a spacious enough crate to prevent cramping
  • Cover the crate to provide shelter from elements
  • Place the crate directly behind the cabin to minimise your dog’s exposure to wind and dust.


  • Use a crate made of solid material. Well-ventilated material such as mesh is safest.

Travelling with a dog inside a vehicle

While it is not legally required to restrain a dog travelling inside of a car, it is recommended so as to ensure the safety of all passengers.


  • Keep your dog in the back seat or the open cargo area behind a barrier.
  • Restrain your dog when inside the car. While this is not mandatory, this will increase your chance of keeping all passengers safe while driving.
  • Keep the vehicle well-ventilated.


  • Put your dog in your lap. You will face a fine if caught, and the potential for your pooch to distract you while driving is a high risk.
  • Put your dog in the boot of a sedan-type car. This is ILLEGAL under POCTA.
  • Keep your dog in the front seat. Although it is not illegal, your dog could be killed in the event of an accident by inflating airbags.
  • Let your dog lean its head out of the car window. While it is not illegal, your dog is at risk of developing irritation or an infection from passing debris, and in serious cases could be injured from larger debris.

Contact us

If you have any concerns or further questions about travelling with your pet please book in for a consultation online or by calling our awesome reception team on 9369-1822.