Transporting dogs in vehicles

Thousands of dogs are injured each year while travelling in the back of utes because they aren't properly restrained.

Under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act) you have a legal obligation to make sure your dog is safe when travelling:

  • inside a vehicle
  • on a vehicle tray or trailer.

You must not transport a dog inside a vehicle if any part of the dog, other than its head, can protrude from the vehicle. A maximum penalty of $8,625 applies.

If you are transporting a dog on the tray of a vehicle or on a trailer, the dog must be secured to stop it from:

  • falling off the tray or trailer
  • moving off the tray or trailer
  • being injured by the movement of the vehicle or trailer.

A maximum penalty of $8,625 applies.

Working dogs

If your dog is helping you move livestock, it can ride in the tray or trailer without being secured.

Provide shelter with an enclosed cage

The safest way to transport a dog in the back of an open vehicle is in an enclosed cage.

Ensure the cage is:

  • the right size—to prevent cramping and overcrowding
  • well covered—to provide shelter from sun, wind and rain
  • placed behind the cabin—to minimise exposure to dust and wind.

Tether properly to the cabin

When tethering your dog to the back of the ute, ensure that the lead or chain:

  • attaches to a secure neck collar or properly fitted dog harness
  • secures to a point in the middle of the cabin
  • is the right length—long enough to allow the dog to move about comfortably, but not long enough for the dog to reach the side of the ute
  • swivels at both ends to prevent it becoming entangled.

Take extra care in hot or dusty conditions

Provide shelter for your dog to avoid heat stress by:

  • covering metal floors—utes and tray backs made of metal can heat up quickly and burn your dog's paws
  • giving your dog water to prevent dehydration during long, hot journeys
  • providing a cover over the back of the tray for shelter
  • providing extra shelter when travelling in very dusty conditions to prevent dust particles harming your dog's eyes, ears, nose and lungs.

Secure loose equipment

Loose tools and equipment can move in transit and may seriously injure your dog.

Avoid choker chains

Leads with attached choker chains can strangle dogs if a vehicle brakes suddenly—don't use them.

Be aware of pedestrians

Don't let your dog harass pedestrians.

Understand your legal obligations

You are legally required to make sure your dog is safe, secure and comfortable when travelling inside a vehicle or on a vehicle tray or trailer.

A maximum penalty of $8,625 applies.

Working dogs can ride in a tray or trailer without being secured if they are helping move livestock.

It is cruel to transport any animal (including a dog) in an unsuitable container or vehicle, or in a way that is inappropriate for its welfare. This may include:

  • transporting the animal with too few or too many other animals, or with an incompatible species
  • not providing the animal with appropriate breaks
  • confining the animal in a way that causes heat stress or other pain.

Significant penalties of up to $275,700 or 3 years in prison apply for animal cruelty.

Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 2021 there are penalties for travel with an unsecured load on the back of a light vehicle. An unrestrained dog can be considered an unsecured load. Penalties of up to  $2,875 may apply if you don't comply.