Summer may be coming to a close, but for many of us the fall adventures and road trips are just getting started. Depending on where you live, fall is the perfect time to hit the road with your dog and explore the changing scenery.
With that being said, it’s super important that you’re not only traveling in style, but you’re traveling safely.
In fact, did you know that in many cities throughout the United States, it’s actually illegal to drive with an unrestrained dog in a vehicle? This means that you should have your dog either buckled up or in a car-safe dog crate while on the road.
Ensuring your dog is safely secured in your car not only protects your dog should an accident occur, but it also keeps you safe and from becoming distracted.
But with so many options for dog car seats, seat belts and car crates, how do you know the best way to travel with your dog?
Have you ever considered a dog car hammock? That’s right, folks! Today, we are talking about driving in style AND comfort! Keep reading to learn more!
What Is A Dog Car Hammock?
Dog car hammocks help keep your dog safely restrained in the back seat. It also protects your seats from becoming destroyed by your dog.
A dog car hammock is a fun play on keeping your dog safely restrained in the back seat while also ensuring he is comfortable and your car seats remain intact. A dog car hammock also helps keep your car clean from debris, dirt and loose fur your dog may shed during your adventure.
Dog car hammock products can be made of a number of materials and come in different sizes and fabrics depending on your taste and your dog’s size. These hammocks generally attach to both the front seats and the back seats, providing your dog with 360 degrees of comfort and protection.
With that being said, a dog car hammock does not replace a seat belt for your dog. While a car hammock can help keep your dog from falling forward during an abrupt stop or turn, we still suggest investing in a seat belt to hold your dog in place securely along with his dog car hammock.
But we will talk more about that further down. For now, let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the pros and cons of using a dog car hammock during travel.
The Pros and Cons Of A Dog Car Hammock
It’s important to not travel with your dog unrestrained, as this could put both of you in danger.
The dog car hammock certainly has its fair share of pros, but it also has a few cons that you should consider before investing.
Pros Of A Dog Car Hammock:
- A dog car hammock is helpful for keeping anxious dogs in the back seat
- Dog car hammock products come in a variety of materials and sizes
- Dog car hammocks can also help protect your seats from wear and tear
- A dog car hammock is easy to install, remove and wash
- A dog car hammock will help make your car ride safer for both you and your dog
- Dog car hammocks can be used for short term rides or long term road trips
- Dog car hammocks are generally easy to store when not in use
Cons Of A Dog Car Hammock:
- A dog car hammock does not replace a dog seatbelt
- A dog car hammock may be cumbersome and take up a lot of space
- Installing a dog car hammock improperly may lead to it not working
- A car hammock for your dog can become dirty and may need to be washed often
- Dog hammock products are not all made equally
Along with understanding the pros and cons of a dog car hammock, it’s also important to consider the best type of hammock for your dog and car.
Before you invest in a dog car hammock, remember that not all hammocks are made equally, as we mentioned above. For this reason, we’ve listed a few things you should consider when considering a dog car hammock.
Look For Quality Products
When it comes to looking for the right products and especially a safe and durable dog car hammock, it’s important to look for quality. A quality made hammock is going to be a hammock that lasts longer and is less likely to rip or break during your first few times of using it.
Avoid dog car hammock products that look flimsy or do not have great reviews (if you’re buying online), and make sure these hammocks are safe for long term use. Remember, dogs are harder on products than (most) of us humans are.
Look For Dog-Safe Products Or Products That Are Chew-Proof
Like children, dogs explore the world with their mouths. When your dog is in a dog car hammock, it won’t always be easy to watch what he is doing. For this reason, it’s very important to invest in products that are dog-safe and chew proof.
Avoid a dog car hammock that contains buttons, velcro, patches, zippers, plastic buckles, or other items your dog could become fixated on and chew, as this could lead to choking.
Seek Out Water-Proof Or Washable Dog Car Hammocks
This is not necessarily a rule but definitely a good suggestion. Waterproof dog car hammocks will save your car and your seats from a ton of wear and tear and can help reduce the amount of time you spend vacuuming, cleaning and washing after your trip.
You can also choose water-resistant dog car hammock products and washable dog car hammocks, which we highly recommend.
Read The Safety Labels
Some dog car hammocks are designed to be used with supervision. While you should never be leaving your dog alone in a car in his dog car hammock, you still may be in the front and your dog may be alone in the back.
Be sure you’re reading the safety labels listed on the products and that you’re using these products exactly as directed to ensure they are safe and effective.
Look For A Dog Car Hammock That Can Work With A Dog Seat Belt Or Car Seat
Some dog car hammock products will come with openings that allow for canine seat belt attachments. Others can be designed to be used in conjunction with a car seat for longer travel.
Remember, your dog car hammock does help make your dog’s car ride safer, but it does not replace a secure and sturdy seatbelt.
Make Sure You Pay Attention To The Design and The Measurements
Last but not least, be sure you do your measurements. While most dog car hammock products are created with a “one size fits all” design, your car may have unique features that only certain hammocks will work for.
For example, some dog car hammock products work by connecting to the head rests of both the front and back seats. If your car does not have headrests, the hammock may not work properly.
Ensuring your dog car hammock will fit and fit correctly can save you a lot of time, money and frustration.
The Best Dog Car Hammock Options For Dogs
Dog hammocks can come in all shapes and sizes and even be hybrids of car seats.
Finding the right dog car hammock at your local pet store could be hit or miss, especially if you have unique needs or if your dog struggles with skin allergies or sensitivities to certain fabrics. You may also need dog car hammock options that separate two different dogs, or that come in different sizes if you have different breeds or mixes.
Where can you go to find a wide selection of dog car hammock options? Why, here of course! We have done our research to get you started and have listed some of our favorite dog car hammock options for a variety of different types of cars, owners and dogs.
Take a look!
Dog Back Seat Cover/Nonslip Hammock
The first dog car hammock on our list is a basic car hammock by The Active Pets Store. This hammock comes in two sizes including extra large and standard, and it is not only waterproof, but it’s scratch proof and chew resistant.
This is an excellent dog car hammock for cars with leather seats or even cloth seats and for owners who want to ensure their dog is comfortable while also ensuring their car seats stay looking like new.
The dog car hammock connects to both the front and the back seat rests and even includes two flaps on either side to protect the siding of your car or your seats. This hammock is made of quality material designed not to slip around when your dog moves and it is also machine washable.
The most important part about this hammock is that safety is a priority, and these dog car hammocks provide headrest anchors to ensure stability as well as a seat belt opening to provide your dog with the safest journey possible.
4-In-1 Dog Car Hammock and Seat Cover
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Another dog car hammock we would highly recommend is the above 4-in1 dog car hammock. This product, made by Maxtigers, is a rear seat covering that, like most dog car hammocks, attaches to the head rests of both the front and the back car seats.
The attachments are made to fit snugly to ensure the hammock acts as not only protection for your dog but also your car. It also includes a mesh window so your dog can see up front and two seat belts to ensure your dog is safe during the ride.
This dog car hammock comes in large and extra large, and it is made of polyester material that is washable, scratch resistant and odor resistant. However, the description does not specify if this dog car hammock is waterproof, so keep that in mind when looking into investing in this product.
Kurgo Dog Car Hammock
One of the dog car hammock products we really like is the versatile dog car hammock by Kurgo. This product comes in a half seat hammock or a full seat hammock, and can also be ordered with seat and floor coverings for extra protection.
This is an ideal product if you have a dog and children who need to ride in the back seat together, or if you have two dogs who may not always enjoy riding next to each other and need their own space.
The half dog car hammock faces out towards the door and provides your dog a safe and secluded area to ride that will keep both him and your car safe. The hammock is water resistant and washable, and allows you to also attach a seat belt to ensure your dog is safely secured.
The hammocks come in three versions and four sizes, as well as a variety of colors and patterns.
100% Waterproof Dog Car Seat Hammock
Not all dog car seat hammocks are going to be waterproof. While many say they are water resistant, the above dog hammock is actually a 100% waterproof product that is also scratch proof and is made with anti slip technology.
It covers the back seat entirely including both doors. The front includes a mesh window so your dog can see out, and it includes side harness connections that attach to the top grip to ensure all aspects of your car are protected and your dog is safe.
The product is made of quality leather and includes 600D oxford water resistant coating for extra protection. This hammock is available in two sizes including large and extra large, and is easy to remove and wash as needed.
BellaBailey Dog Car Hammock
Last we have this functional dog car hammock by BellaBailey. The hammock actually includes a number of accessories including a dog water bowl, two seat belts, and even a removable cover that you can toss in the wash without having to remove the entire hammock every time.
Like many of the dog car hammocks listed above, we like that this hammock includes a mesh window to allow your dog easy visibility out. This also allows you to see what your dog is up to and ensure he is safe.
Unlike some of the above dog car hammock options, all of the flaps on this hammock are not disconnected. This means it is easy for you to manipulate the hammock and shape it as you need to, which can be easier for those who may have unique vehicles.
Alternatives You Can Use To Dog Car Hammocks
Keep in mind that dog car hammocks do not replace seat belts.
While we do love the ideal of dog car hammocks, these products are not for everyone and they’re certainly not for every dog. Very small dogs or very large dogs may do better with simple canine seat belts, doggy car seats, or car-safe dog crates.
If you’re not sure if a dog car hammock is right for your dog, here are a few alternatives you might consider investing in instead.
K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Seat For Pets
Very small dogs may struggle in the backseat or become anxious when a dog car hammock is implemented. If you do have both a large dog and a small dog, we recommend not only investing in a dog car hammock but also a booster seat for your smaller pup.
Booster seats provide your small dog with protection while also ensuring he is up high enough to see. The comfortable material makes for a great bed as well, and the seat is designed to buckle into the car, ensuring your dog is safe during his journey.
The car seat is available in three colors and comes in small and large sizes. With that being said, it is best suited for small to medium sized dogs.
Henkelion Small Dog Car Seat
Another car seat we would recommend for small dogs in place of a dog car hammock is the Henkelion Small Dog Car Seat Above. This Pet Booster and Car Seat Combination is designed specifically for dogs that weigh up to 30 pounds. It includes the seat that attaches to the car’s built-in seat and belt and has a built-in seat belt harness to ensure your dog stays put and stays safe.
The booster is reinforced with waterproof material and 600D oxford fabric. Both sides are ventilated and breathable which make it safe for your dog to lay down in. We also like that the seat includes a removable mat that you can wash separately to ensure the car seat remains as clean as possible.
And for fun, this product is available in a few different colors including black, blue, grey, pink and purple.
BOCHAO Dog Car Seat
If you’re looking for a dog car seat that protects your car in the same way a dog car hammock does, you may want to take a look at the BOCHAO dog car seat above. This product is specifically designed for canine safety, but it also helps protect your car’s seats by covering the bottom and back completely.
The car seat provides a booster with plush material that is soft and comfortable while also being durable. It attaches to your passenger seat or backseat firmly and includes a built in dog seat belt that is made to latch to your dog’s harness.
However, be sure your dog is wearing a chest harness and not a collar alone when you attach this seatbelt.
The product is made of quality material and is easy to store when it’s not in use. It even comes with it’s own oxford cloth bag for storage and is machine washable.
Flow.Month Seat Cover and Car Seat
Another car seat/dog car hammock hybrid we would recommend is the above product by Flow.Month. This product works to protect your car’s seats and siding by covering it with extra long flapts that are waterproof and scratch proof.
However, the booster seat in the center of the product helps ensure your dog stays safely in one place. It also includes a seatbelt attachment to connect to your dog’s harness and a seat anchor that ensures the car seat will not slip and slide.
The material is made of quality oxford fabric and includes a PVC lamination coating to help prevent ripping. The product is also easy to store as well as keep clean.
Travel Safety Tips – How To Drive Safely With Your Four-Legged Friend When Going Long Distances
Remember to not only use canine seat belts when driving with your dog, but also to prepare for long trips beforehand.
There is no road trip like a road trip you take with your four-legged best friend. Whether you’re going across the country or you’re simply traveling a few hours into the mountains, preparing for a safe trip can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Here are a few expert tips on how to travel safely with your dog when hitting the road for an extended period of time.
Speak With Your Veterinarian Before You Hit The Road
If you’re traveling a long distance with your dog, we suggest contacting your veterinarian. Let them know the areas you are going to be spending the most time in and ensure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and medication he may need to help protect him from potential parasites and illnesses in different environments.
Ensure Your Dog Is Restrained In The Vehicle While It Is Moving
A dog car hammock may or may not be right for you and our dog, but regardless, it’s important to choose q product that can help ensure your dog is safe while you travel. Not only will this help prevent injury or worse should an accident occur, but it will ensure your dog stays safely in the backseat while you are driving to prevent you from becoming distracted.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Seated In A Well Ventilated Area Out Of Direct Sunlight
Since we do suggest ensuring your dog is secured in your vehicle while it’s moving, we also suggest making sure your dog is secured in a well-ventilated and comfortable area so he does not become overheated or too cold. It’s also best to ensure your dog is out of direct sunlight or at least has enough room to move out of sunlight if he needs to.
Never Leave Your Dog Alone In A Car, Even For A Moment
The golden rule when traveling with a pet is to never leave that pet unattended in a vehicle. This is especially true during warmer days or in warmer climates, but is generally a good rule of thumb all the way around no matter what time of year it is.
Bring A Pet First Aid Kit With You On Your Route
Before you hit the road, we suggest investing in a first aid kit designed for pets. Many first aid kits include small booklets with instructions on common first aid, including CPR and injury care.
Don’t Forget Your Doggy Bag Of Canine Medications!
Remember to pack any of your pet’s medications, and we like to suggest you bring along extras in case the trip goes a bit longer than expected. Packing medications with your dog’s first aid kit is a great way to ensure everything stays together.
Bring Extra Water and Food, Just In Case
Just as you travel with yourself in mind, it’s also important to travel with your pet’s needs in mind. Bringing extra pet food and water can help ensure your dog never goes hungry or thirsty and that you both are happy and healthy on your journey.
Know The Emergency Veterinarians Along Your Route
Experts recommend having a good idea of your route ahead of time and mapping out the nearest emergency veterinary hospitals along the way. This way you are prepared if an emergency happens.
Keep The Number Of Animal Poison Control Listed In Your Phone
The ASPCA Pet Poison Control hotline is open 24/7 and can guide you on what to do if you think your dog has ingested something toxic. We suggest saving this number to your phone: 1-888-426-4435.
Make Sure Your Dog’s ID Tags And Microchipping Information Is Up To Date
Many dogs have a great sense of direction, but when you go on a road trip you are taking your dog far away from what is familiar to him. This means he could easily get lost. To be safe, make sure your dog’s information on his ID tags and microchip are up to date.
Last But Not least, Have Fun!
Traveling with your dog should be a blast, and preparing for a safe and fun road trip can make all the difference in the world.
So, whether you chose to adventure out with your dog in a dog car hammock or you have opted to invest in a seat belt, car seat or dog crate, the important thing is that you’re being safe and having a great time doing it.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.