Is it Safe to Carry a Dog on Your Truck's Flat Bed?

Truck owners often like to take their dogs with them while working, so the sight of an apparently happy pup peering over the edge of a truck flat bed is relatively common. However, although it looks like the dog is having fun, the animal is actually in great danger. Find out why truck beds and dogs don't always mix, and learn about some of the safety steps you can take to protect your loyal pooch.

The scale of the issue

If the cab is full of equipment or passengers, it's not always easy to find a space for a large dog. What's more, many animals will happily get in the truck bed to get to your next destination. Unfortunately, even at low speeds, a truck bed is not necessarily a safe place for your dog.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, around 100,000 dogs die every year in accidents that involve truck beds. While the truck driver can always see (and react to) what is about to happen, a dog has little idea that the vehicle is about to move or stop suddenly. Various incidents can seriously injure or kill your dog. For example:

  • Swirling air currents around the truck bed can blow dust and grit in the dog's eyes and ears. At high speeds, these particles can cause serious injuries.
  • You can easily eject the dog from the truck when you brake suddenly. At high speeds, an ejected dog could suffer serious head injuries and broken bones.
  • A distracted dog may jump from the truck, even if you are traveling at high speeds. Many owners mistakenly believe their animals would never do something like this, but they often learn the hard way.

What the law says

In many states, the law forbids the carriage of unrestrained animals. For example, Washington state legislation says that is illegal to willfully transport or confine an animal in any manner that can jeopardize the safety of the animal or other humans. If a traffic cop stops you, they may confiscate the animal. You could also face a fine.

In some states, the law is more prescriptive. For example, in California you can transport an animal in your truck bed if the vehicle has an enclosed space or has side and tail racks that extend at least 46 inches vertically from the floor. Other enclosure methods are also acceptable, as long as they can stop the animal falling or jumping from the vehicle.

Possible solutions

For the safety of your dog and other people, it's clear that you should never carry an unrestrained animal in your truck bed. That aside, it's not enough simply to tie the animal up. Even if the animal is restrained in this way, he or she could still suffer an injury if the restraint is unsafe. However, there are possible solutions.

A topper is a special device that you can fit to your truck bed. Various options are available, but you can also buy smaller toppers that give you an enclosure for the animal at one end of the truck bed, without completely enclosing the whole area. This type of topper stops the dog escaping or falling and protects the animal from flying debris.

A dog crate will cost you less money than a topper, and you can, of course, use the device in other ways. For example, dog crates are useful at home if you need to keep a dog securely tethered while you have visitors. That aside, you must still adequately secure a dog crate, or the enclosure could fall off the truck bed with the animal inside. What's more, a wire dog crate won't offer much protection from flying debris.

Some truck accessory stores also sell cross tethers that you can use to secure a dog. A cross-tether is basically a rope fastened to either side of the truck with a special leash in the middle that keeps the dog safely in place. These tethers stop the dog choking if the truck moves suddenly, but it's also a good idea to buy a padded harness for extra comfort and safety. A cross-tether is probably only suitable for short distances and/or low speeds, as faster driving still presents a hazard from dust and debris.

Truck owners often carry their dogs in their truck beds, but this habit is dangerous and often unlawful. Visit resources like for more information and advice about the options available to you.