We Australians love our furry friends, so it makes sense that we like to take them everywhere we go!

But is it illegal to drive with a pet in Australia? First, the quick answer, then a slightly longer one. Then read on for a guide on how to drive with your pet safely.

Is it Illegal to Drive With a Pet in Australia?

The short answer is no, it’s not illegal to drive with a pet in Australia. However, you’re not allowed to drive in a way that threatens the safety of an animal. Below are some rules to keep your pets safe, along with a few things you should never, ever do.

A man driving a convertible with two dogs in the back, is it illegal to do this, to drive with pets in Australia?

Rules for Driving With a Pet in Australia

The laws on driving with pets in Australia vary from state to state. However, one rule consistent across the country is driving with an animal in your lap.

It’s illegal to drive with a pet in your lap, and it’s dangerous. A cat or dog in your lap could block your view, interfere with steering, or restrict your use of to the pedals. Fines vary between states, but they’re generally in excess of $200, plus a few demerit points.

For detailed information about the rules in your state, contact your local transport department on the links below:

Here are other nation-wide rules for driving with pets in Australia:

  • Motorbike riders can’t ride with pets between the handlebars and the rider.
  • Dogs on utes must be restrained so they can’t fall off or be injured.
  • A bike, motorbike, or driver can’t lead a walking animal with the vehicle is in motion.

The RSPCA can also issue big fines and jail time if you endanger an animal. So while it’s not illegal to drive with a pet in Australia, it’s illegal to drive in a way that puts animals in danger.

A dog poking his head out of the window of a car driving with pets

Is it Dangerous to Drive with a Pet?

When your pet is safe, it’s not dangerous to drive with an animal. If your pet is unrestrained and your windows are open, you’re running a risk. The RSPCA estimates about 5,000 dogs are injured each year due to falls from moving vehicles.

Even if your windows are closed, an unrestrained pet can still get hurt. If you swerve or brake quickly, unsecured pets can be thrown about, just like humans not wearing seat belts. Pets are allowed to be unrestrained in the car, but you should try and drive carefully.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe in the Car

Ideally, animals should be restrained while moving. If that’s not possible, they should stay in the backseat.

Car Restraints:

Keeping your pet secured stops window jumps and prevents pets getting thrown around in the car.

For dogs, a harness can be secured to the back seat with a seat belt attachment. You can buy car harnesses to suit the size of your dog, as well as booster seats and seat covers for extra security. 

Cats are harder, as they tend to not enjoy driving as much as dogs do! Your best bet is a well-ventilated cat carrier, complete with blanket, treats, or toys. Secure the carrier to the back seat with a seat belt attachment.

For any animal, consider how much direct sun is coming into the car, and block as much you can it on warm days.

Never leave an animal unattended in a car. Hot cars are responsible for hundreds of animal deaths a year. Even on a cold day, separation anxiety can lead to serious distress for the rest of your trip.

A dog poking its head out from the back seat of a car, but is it illegal to drive with a pet in Australia?

Is it illegal to drive with dogs in the back of a ute?

It’s not illegal to drive with a dog in the back of a ute as long as they’re properly restrained. Restraining pets in the back of a ute is not only a legal requirement, it’s essential to keep your pet safe.

The best way to keep dogs safe in the back of a ute is to use an enclosed cage that’s big enough for your dog, covered for shelter, and placed securely behind the cabin to decrease exposure to debris from the road.

If that’s not an option, they can be tethered from a collar or harness. The lead should be connected to a point toward the middle of the tray and shouldn’t be long enough for your dog to reach the side of the tray. If it’s a hot day, cover any metal surfaces and put out a secure water source.

Can I drive with a pet in a GoGet?

If you’re a GoGet member, you’ve got lots of choices when you want to hit the road with an animal. You’ve got the choice of a pet-friendly car or a normal GoGet.

  • Pet-friendly cars. A pet-friendly GoGet has a plastic hammock to cover the back seat. With the hammock on, you can put your pet in the back seat without a carrier. Use the hair roller in the car to clean any stray hairs.
  • Normal cars. Pets are welcome in any GoGet car if they’re in a pet carrier.

Travel Tips for Keeping Pets Happy in the Car

Lastly, there are a few things you can do to keep animals happy on road trips.

  • If you’re on the road for more than half an hour give your pet a small meal before you leave and take snacks for the journey.
  • Dogs might love it, but it’s not safe for them to put their noses or paws out of a window. Open the window enough to allow air circulation, but not so much that your dog can pop its nose out.
  • If your pet has a favourite cushion or toys, take it to provide some home comforts.

Follow these tips and you’ll not just be able to drive safely with your pet, you’ll have an awesome road trip as well!

A dog standing in front of a car with it's doors open

This post shouldn’t be regarded as legal advice. Check that this information applies to your circumstances by speaking with your local road authority.