Dogs on Utes, trucks and flat beds

by / Friday, 04 January 2013 / Published in News Archive, Small Animals

As a vet nurse I have seen my fair share of the injuries dogs receive when they fall out of utes and it makes my blood boil to see dogs freely hanging out of the sides of utes and pick ups every day when I’m in my car.

What drivers/dog owners fail to understand is that they are legally required to ensure their dog is safe, secure and comfortable while in transit.


Under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, you are obliged to ensure your dog’s safety and wellbeing at all times. You can be fined up to $30,000 or jailed for a year if you don’t. 

Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Road Rules) Regulation 1999, it is illegal to travel with an unsecured load on the back of your vehicle. An unrestrained dog can be considered ‘an unsecured load’. You can be fined up to $2,000 if you don’t comply.

Thousands of dogs are injured each year while travelling in the back of utes because they haven’t been properly restrained.

Dogs being struck by tree branches

Dogs being struck by oncoming or passing vehicles

Dogs being dragged along the side of vehicles after overbalancing

Dogs attempting to jump from moving vehicles

To avoid these kinds of injuries your dog should be caged of tethered at all times when travelling in the back of utes, tray backs or trucks.

Being caged or tethered fulfils your legal obligation to make sure your dog is safe.

Cages should be:dogs-in-cage-safe

  • 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


When tethering your dog to the back of the ute make sure the lead/chain is:

  • Attached to a secure neck collar or properly fitted dog harness
  • Secured to a point in the middle of the cabin
  • The right length (long enough to allow the dog to move about comfortably, but not long enough for the dog to reach the ute’s side)
  • Have swivels at both ends to prevent it becoming entangled

harnessLeads with attached choker chains can strangle dogs when vehicles brake suddenly. Don’t use them.


Utes and tray backs made of metal can heat up quickly and burn dog’s paws. In hot conditions consider covering metal floors

Allow for frequent stops to give your dog water to prevent dehydration during long journeys

Dust particles can harm dog’s eyes, ears, nose and lungs so extra shelter should be provided when travelling in dusty conditions.

Secure loose tools and equipment as they can become missiles in transit and may seriously injure your dog.

Spare a thought for your best mate if he travels on the back of your ute, for the sake of $20 for a comfortable safe harness it could save you not only fines and legal fees but also veterinary costs.

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