Skip to main content

Many dogs love truck rides, and most vehicles have good accommodations for canine companions. It may seem logical to let your dog ride in your truck bed. This way, they can get some fresh air and have plenty of room to move around. However, this is not only incredibly unsafe for your dog, but it’s also illegal in certain states.

Trucks lead to dog deaths

A dog standing on the tailgate of a pickup truck
Dog in back of pickup truck | Getty Images

Statistics show that around 100,000 dogs die every year as a result of riding unsecured in a truck bed. If you get involved in an accident, you have seat belts to reduce injuries.

But a dog in the back of a truck will not have any protection in a collision. Depending on the pup’s size and how fast you’re driving, your dog can be hit with 500 to 2,400 pounds of force.

Dogs can also get too excited and jump out of the truck bed. If you’re going over 40 miles an hour and this happens, your dog likely won’t survive the jump. Even if you’re going at a slower speed, a nearby driver could be surprised by the sudden obstacle and hit your dog.

Dogs are a danger to drivers

When your dog is riding in your truck bed, you’ll probably keep one eye on the road and one eye on your pooch.

This is just as bad as using the phone and driving, especially if your dog doesn’t have good car manners. It can also be dangerous to other drivers, too.

If your dog is distracting you, it could cause you to drift into a different lane and hit another car. Plus, dogs could distract other drivers with their cute fluffy faces.

Dog driving laws

Two dogs in the bed of a Toyota Tacoma
Two dogs in the back of a truck | Getty images

Driving with your dog in the truck bed is illegal in many states, including Maryland, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and California. In some states, like Hawaii, you can also be fined for driving with a small dog in your lap.

What people don’t think about is how an unsecured dog may become dangerous in a wreck. They can fly from the backseat or front of the cab like projectiles or crash through the windshield. Buckle them in safely.

While some states don’t have specific laws against unsecured dogs in truck beds, it could still be a violation of the state’s animal cruelty laws.

Injuries your dog may sustain

Even if your dog is on its best behavior in the truck bed, it’s still susceptible to minor injuries. The pup can get hit with debris, like dust or sharp pebbles.

Dirt can get stuck in the dog’s eyes or nose and cause health problems. In the truck bed, your pooch is also exposed to dangerous weather, like heavy rain or extreme temperatures.

How to keep your dog safe in a truck bed

Your dog can absolutely ride in the truck bed as long as they are properly secured. However, you can’t just knot its leash around a tie-down rack. Your dog should have a sturdy crate that can be secured down so it won’t slide along the truck floor as you drive.

You can also use a cross-tether attached to a harness. This keeps the dog secured to the truck cab so they won’t be ejected in an accident. Just as you wouldn’t drive without a seatbelt, you shouldn’t let your dog ride in the truck bed unprotected.