How to Transport a Dog in a Truck Bed?


When your truck cab is full and you have no option but to carry your dog on your truck bed, you have to get a few things right. It is both dangerous and illegal to carry your dog on the truck bed unless you follow some rules and take the right measures. Many carry their dog in the truck bed; some get into trouble and some get on with it without a problem. I made some research and talked to truck owners who have the knowledge and experience of transporting their dog on their truck bed.

How to Transport Your Dog in a Truck Bed?

Driving in an open road is risky enough and on top of that carrying an unrestrained dog in the back of the truck is even more dangerous. It is distractive both for the driver and people around. Most importantly, it is illegal to carry an unrestrained dog in the back of the truck.

So, how should you carry your dog in the truck bed? The bare minimum is to cross-tether the dog. Secure the dog with at least two points of restraint on both sides of the truck bed. It allows the dog to move around a little but not much that it will jump out of the truck. A single leash tether is not recommended at all; there cannot be a bigger blunder. You can cross-tether using branded cross-tether leash which will cost you under $50. If you are using rope, fasten it on each side of the truck and attach a short leash in the middle for the dog. Also, keep the leash short.

A better way to carry them is in a dog crate. Buy a dog crate that is covered from all sides which will be enough to protect the dog from weather hazards, such as heat and rain. Preferably it should be made of hard plastic and should be of a light color because you don’t want a metal crate that heats up in summer.

You can also build a wire cage at the home from scraps, but then again you have to fasten it securely to the truck bed. If you will be carrying your dog more often, you could even choose to weld the cage to the bed. But, don’t forget to cover it up with some curtain to protect your dog from weather damage.

If you have a dog of a smaller breed, you could simply use a smaller crate and cover it with a tonneau cover. But, If you keep the tailgate up the dog is going to suffocate or even react unusually in the dark.

A lot goes into safely transporting your dog on a truck bed. From using a safety harness to training your dog, you have to take care of a lot of aspects before carrying your dog on a truck bed. In the following article, we have discussed all the major aspects including its legal part of carrying your dog or any pet for that matter on a pickup truck bed.

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How to Use Safety Harness?

Even if you do carry your dog in your cab to the destination, you will be forced to tie him down in the truck bed in many cases such as when returning from a beach. Here we have laid out steps to cross tie your dog with a safety harness. This is for those who want to make a safety harness by themselves without buying the commercial ones.

Tools You Need


  • Two Carabiners – We found a pair of sturdy and high-quality carabiners.

  • One swivel hook – Here’s a 1000 LB capacity Swivel hook.

How To?

Measure the width of the truck bed and cut the cable keeping a feet’s length extra. Fold each end of the cable by five inches and secure the loop with clip clamps using a wrench. Adjust the overall length and trim the cable if needed. Now attach the carabiner to test if it fits the truck. Then use another clamp to attach the swivel hook to the center of the cable. If you want, you can plastic dip the joints as well. Now mount the cable across the bed near the cab end.

However, you should have already fixed truck rail anchors or wall anchors. Now secure your dog with a vest style harness along with a tether to the middle of the cross tie. Tieing down your dog midway is the best options as it would absorb trucks inertia from both sides while you slow down rapidly or brake suddenly. However, place a rubber mat or bedrug so that your dog can rest comfortably without the danger of heating up truck bed in the summer.

How to Train Your Dog to be Comfortable in the Truck Bed

The training should begin at least a couple of months before you decide to take him on a trip. Get him used to your commands and also run a test drive to make him comfortable. Bring the tailgate down and lay a rubber mat on the truck bed. Now command your pup to hop into the truck bed. You could entice him with a treat. You can also practice this exercise at your home on your couch. After your canine is on the truck bed, command him to sit down. Then tie the leash to the cross tie rope or command him to get into the cage, if you have one. Repeat this process a few time.

After a week of practice, take him on a real drive. Take it to slow the first time and watch how your dog reacts. If he is in a cage, or under the tonneau cover, it’s not a problem, but if the bed is open he may have a tendency to jump out. Then you should calm him and command him to lay back again.

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A week after this exercise, increase the pace of your truck and see if he reacts when in the truck bed. If he reacts, command him to lay down. Repeat this exercise a few times and make him comfortable with the truck bed. However, if you have a simple leash and have an open truck bed, you have no option but to drive slowly. On the other hand, if you have a dog cage and will be driving pretty fast, make sure your dog is comfortable with it by taking him on a short trip with a faster pace.

How to Help a Dog With Motion Sickness?

Many dogs are prone to motion sickness which is why they experience nausea and anxiety when traveling. Carrying them in the truck bed could aggravate motion sickness even more. Symptoms of motion sickness among dogs include panting, restlessness, trembling, vomiting, and anxiety. They may show signs of stress, nervousness, and hyperactivity.

Here are some natural remedies

Natural remedies include both herbal and homeopathic treatment. Some of the best homeopathic remedies for motion sickness include Cocculus and Aconitum. Consult a veterinarian before administering any medication. However, in common, it is administered before the travel and a couple of times in between. Some flower essence such as Be Serene and Rescue Remedy or of great help. You could also opt for calming sprays such as Adaptil and SENTRY. Many pets experience nausea, anxiety, and stress when riding in cars. Both natural remedies and conventional medications are available. Essential oils such as Lavender, tarragon, lemongrass, and herbs such as catnip and ginger are known to reduce anxiety.

Dangers of Carrying a Dog in a Truck Bed

Nearly 100K dogs of owners who carry their dog in the pickup truck bed, die each year. Riding with your dog in the truck bed is unsafe, especially if the bed is open. Common dangers include:

  • Dogs chock in high speed when they are pulled away with a leash tied to their neck.
  • Dogs slide out when the tuck is stopped suddenly.
  • Flying stones and debris may hurt your dog or make him uncomfortable.
  • The force of the wind is unhealthy for the dog’s lungs
  • The dog may see something on the road and jump out of the moving truck. With the leash on he will just hang himself to death.
  • Your truck’s high speed and inertia may just throw out your dog out of the bed. It will not only injure your dog but may cause a catastrophic accident to other drivers behind you.
  • Dogs become an added hazard if you face an accident.

Safety Laws for Transporting a Dog in the Truck Bed

Transporting dog in the back of the truck is illegal in 5 states unless you take proper measures.

California: In California, it is illegal to transport a dog on the back of the pickup truck unless they extend the truck side to a height of at least 46 inches vertically. The owner should cross-tether the dog and protect him in some form of a cage or any other type of container which will prevent the dog from jumping or falling out of the truck.

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Connecticut: As defined in the section 14-1, no person can carry a dog in an open compartment such as the truck bed unless they secure the dog in a cage or other container which prevents them to jump or fall out.

Massachusetts: The state extends the law for all animals. As per the law, no person shall transport any animal in a space that is intended for hauling cargo. They cannot drive on the public way unless they enclose the space on all sides or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches. The owners have to cross tether the dog to the truck bed and protected him within a container or a cage.

New Hampshire: The state also has a similar law, where the sides of the truck have to be extended to the height of at least 46 inches vertically. Along with that, the dog has to be cross tethered and protected in a cage or secured container.

Rhode Island: The state covers all animals and applies to open-air motor vehicles in general. However, it may be allowed if some rules are met.

  • The animal is secured in an enclosed area.
  • The animal is under the physical control of a person other than the driver.
  • The animals must be safely restrained to the truck bed using animal restraining accessories other than neck restraints.

Truck bed Accessories to Ease Transporting your Dog

  • Truck bed dog box – Here’s a small dog chest from Dee Zee.

  • Safety harness
  • Vest style harness
  • Truck bed canopy for dogs with floor pad and tether
  • Tailgate steps or tailgate ladder – Here is a good option from Great Day.
  • Bedrug
  • Motion activated LED truck bed lights

Best Practices While Carrying Your Dog in the Truck Bed

  • Take enough food for the dog.
  • Pull over every hour to check how your dog is doing.
  • Keep your dog hydrated.
  • Alway lay truck bed mat or rug
  • Check the tether when you make pit stops
  • Carry motion sickness medicines for your dog
  • If you use a tonneau cover, keep the bed lit


Transporting your dog in the truck bed not advisable. If you have to; check out local dog transportation law and make sure your dog is secure in the bed. Carrying your dog in the cab is rather easy and brings little troubles that carrying him in the truck bed. While driving you always have to keep your dog’s condition in mind. Avoid taking sharp turns or making sudden stops. Make sure to stop multiple times in your journey to check his health and condition. Follow the above-mentioned tips diligently to carry your dog safely with you.

Jackson Reid
Jackson Reid
With a wrench in one hand and a trucker's hat on my head, I've been knee-deep in the world of trucks for over a decade. From tinkering in greasy garages to cruising down open highways, my life has been one big trucking adventure. I've hauled, repaired, and revved up more rigs than I can count, and now I'm revving up your truck knowledge with articles that'll steer you right.

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