Let’s be clear at the outset: It is not safe to allow your dog to ride in the back of a truck.
Lots of people do it – I’ve been guilty of this in my younger and dumber years – but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea. A truck bed provides virtually no protection to your pooch and leaves him at risk of serious injury or death.
However, if you must let your dog ride in the bed of your truck or you are in one of the very few situations in which it is arguably somewhat safe to do so (more on this later), you’ll want to install a crate in the bed and allow your dog to ride inside.
The crate won’t provide very much protection in the event of a car accident, but it will keep your dog from jumping out of the bed and it will offer a small degree of protection against road debris and inclement weather.
It is also important to realize that while a high-quality crate will certainly keep your dog contained, it may not protect your dog from nefarious or careless people. A thief may steal dogs left unattended in truck-bed crates, or a child may put his or her fingers through the bars and suffer a bite from an understandably frightened dog.
So, we’ll look at a few of the best truck bed crates available below.
But first, let’s discuss some of the most appropriate situations for using dog crates and explain some of the things you’ll want to look for when making your choice.
|Diamond Delauxe~Aluminum Single Hole Dog Box, Dog Crate, Dog Carrier, Dog House - Large||6 Reviews||$775.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Owens 55002 Dog Box||1 Reviews||$475.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Bushwhacker - Paws n Claws K9 Canopy w/ Pad and Tether for Truck Beds - Dog Shade Shelter Kennel...||19 Reviews||$149.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Gunner Kennels G1/Large, Large||2 Reviews||$599.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Zinger Winger DX5000 Deluxe 5000 Aluminum Dog Crate||11 Reviews||$834.26||Buy on Amazon|
Again, it is never safe to allow your dog to ride in the back of your truck. However, there are a very few scenarios in which the relative risk is probably quite low – especially if you use a truck bed crate while doing so. Some of these situations include:
If you are only letting your dog ride in the back of your truck while riding across farmland or down remote dirt roads, the risk of having an accident are much lower than they are driving around urban or suburban roads. Accordingly, this is probably one of the safer times in which you could let your dogs ride in the truck bed.
Additionally, because of the ways some hunting dogs are used – they are encouraged to sniff for prey while the truck is moving – it is necessary to let them ride in the back. If you accept this risk on behalf of your pooch, it is a good idea to have them ride in the most secure crate possible.
Some professional dog handlers may need to travel through areas that are not crowded with other cars. In such cases, it may be permissible to allow the dogs to ride in the truck bed.
However, such professionals will be better served by using an SUV instead of a truck and allowing the dog to ride in the better-protected interior.
Note that dogs should still be transported in a crate – even when they are inside the cab of a car, truck or SUV.
If your dog likes to accompany you as you tend to crops and inspect irrigation lines, and most of your driving occurs on your own property or empty public roads, you may be comfortable allowing your dog to ride in the back.
However, your dog will remain much safer if forced to ride in a crate, and it will prevent him from jumping out of the bed unexpectedly.
There are three basic styles of truck-bed crates, although it is important to note that some of the best crates for truck beds aren’t designed explicitly for this application. The three basic types of truck-bed crate include:
Metal wire crates are essentially identical to traditional wire dog crates, except that the bars used are often much thicker. Nevertheless, metal wire crates are probably the least escape-proof of the three basic types of truck bed crate, so they aren’t a great idea for Houdini-like hounds.
These types of wire crates are better than nothing, but they won’t provide very much protection in the event of a crash, nor shield your dog from the elements. This can make for a wet, cold and miserable pup.
Plastic panel crates usually provide great protection from the elements, and if they are designed well, they can be quite escape proof. Some of the best models feature double-walled construction, which provides further insulation against temperature extremes, and they’re typically lighter than metal crates.
However, plastic panel crates don’t provide much protection for your dog in the event of a crash.
Metal panel crates are typically the best option available for owners who want their dog to ride in the bed of a truck.
While the metal panels still won’t provide complete protection for your dog, they will provide more protection than metal wire crates or plastic panel crates will. They’re moderately effective at shielding your dog from the elements.
Metal crates are, however, heavy, so you may need a friend help you move the crate around. They’re also quite expensive, but if there’s anything that justifies dropping a chunk of cash, it’s your family’s safety (we’re assuming most of our readers consider dogs members of the family).
Because of the security and safety concerns involved in the decision to allow your dog to ride in a truck bed, it is imperative that you scrutinize the available crates carefully to make the best possible choice.
Among other things, you’ll want to look for a crate that includes the following features, characteristics, and design concepts:
A truck-bed crate may not provide total protection for your pooch, but it certainly provides some. So, you’ll want to ensure that your dog can’t escape from the crate while you’re riding around. Ideally, you’ll want a keyed lock on the door to keep your dog inside and keep unauthorized individuals from opening the door.
Additionally, you want to select a crate that can be securely attached to your truck bed – a thief could conceivably make off with the entire crate if it isn’t exceptionally heavy or connected directly to the bed in some way.
Few crates are designed to keep your dog safe in the event of a crash, but you’ll want to provide your pet with the most protection possible, should something terrible happen. Rigidity has as much to do with the crate’s design as it does the materials used in the construction, however, metal crates are generally less likely to collapse or break than plastic crates are.
Note that there are a few collapsible truck-bed crates on the market. But, while convenient to store and transport, these crates may not be as rigid as their non-collapsing counterparts are.
Your truck bed crate will be exposed to the elements and road debris, so you want one that is built to last. Galvanized metals will last longer than just about any other commonly used material, but most economy metal crates will eventually rust if allowed to get wet repeatedly.
Plastic crates will usually handle moisture fine, but they may get dinged and scratched from the rocks, gravel, sand and other things that blow up off the road.
Make sure that the crate you choose is the proper size. Essentially, you want your dog to be able to lay down, stand up and turn around inside the crate, but you don’t want them to have much more room than this.
In the case of a car accident – and this is difficult to explain gently – your dog will be thrown around more in a large crate than a small crate, so it is important to avoid providing a crate that is much larger than necessary.
Tie-down pins provide a place to attach the straps included with the purchase of the crate (or aftermarket alternatives).
They aren’t absolutely necessary as you can strap down truck bed crates in a number of ways, but tie-down pins, which are generally built into the frame of the crate, provide maximum security.
It can get pretty chilly riding around in the back of a truck – even during warm weather, the high winds will lower the effective temperature your dog feels. Conversely, dog crates can get pretty hot while sitting in the summer sun. Accordingly, you may want to select a crate with insulated walls to protect your dog from temperature extremes.
Even though dogs are covered with a layer of fur, they can experience hypothermia pretty easily if they get wet (especially if they’re also exposed to low temperatures and high winds). So, it is important to select a crate that will keep your dog dry. Some of the best crates feature rain-deflectors around the vents to prevent water from splashing inside.
If you need to let your dog ride in the bed of your truck, the following five crates should help keep your pup a bit safer:
About: The Diamond Deluxe Aluminum Dog Box is built like a tank to provide as much protection as possible and keep your dog safely contained inside. It appears to be specifically designed for use in truck beds, although it could probably be used in a variety of contexts.
Features: The Diamond Deluxe Aluminum Dog Box’s exterior is covered in diamond tread aluminum, which provides great strength while still keeping the overall weight low, and the interior walls are covered in corrugated insulation materials to keep your dog comfortable. Locking T-handles are included to ensure your dog can’t open the door.
The front features an open bar design to provide plenty of visibility for your pet and to promote airflow, and a secondary vented window is provided on the side. A cover is included so that this secondary window can be closed in inclement weather.
The Diamond Deluxe Dog Box is made in the USA and available in two sizes: medium (17” x 30” x 20”) and large (24” x 36” x 27”).
PROS : Most owners who tried the Diamond Deluxe Dog Box were happy with the product, and most dogs appeared to find it quite comfortable. The latches reportedly engage very securely, and the crate has prevented dogs a good handful of dogs from escaping
CONS : One owner felt that the corrugated insulation was cheap and not securely attached to the walls, and the crate did not keep liquids (such as may occur following accidents) contained – although this seems to be the experience of just a single owner. Another not-so-small problem with the Diamond Deluxe Dog Box is that it must be shipped via motor freight to a truck terminal or business – you can’t have it delivered to your home.
About: The Owens Dog Box is another heavy-duty crate designed for use in the back of a truck or anywhere else you need to keep your dog safe and secure.
Features: The Owens Dog Box provides a number of safety and security features, including its rugged aluminum construction and locking T-handles. It is equipped with plastic corrugated insulation panels and comes with a removable storm door to keep your dog comfortable in inclement weather.
Assembly is required upon delivery, but the crate is designed to be easy to put together or take apart, so it is a breeze to transport or store. The 55002 crate is only available in one size (23” x 45” 26”), but Owens manufacturers a number of other crates, which are available in various sizes. Most feature the same type of construction and materials, and they are equally well-built.
PROS : There aren’t many reviews for the Owens Dog Box, so it is difficult to judge its overall value. It does, however, include most of the features and design concepts you’d want in a truck bed crate, it is made from rugged materials, and those owners who did report their experiences with the crate were pleased with their choice.
CONS : The Owens Dog Box didn’t receive many negative reviews, and there aren’t any glaring weaknesses. It is about an inch shorter than most similar crates though, so be sure to measure big dogs carefully before selecting this crate.
About: The Bushwhacker Paws n Claws K9 Canopy is not a true kennel, but it may provide value for owners in very low-risk situations. Essentially designed to keep your dog tethered and protected from the elements, this product may also be useful for hanging out with your dog at the beach or park.
Features: The Bushwhacker K9 Canopy basically includes four key components: A 600-denier polyester canopy to shield your dog from the rain and harsh sun, two mesh sides to provide some protection from road debris, a cushioned pad to give your dog a comfortable place to lay, and a leash-clip tether to keep your dog from jumping out.
The canopy is easy to secure to your truck bed with the four included straps, but you can use it outside of your truck if you prefer. It is also easy to assemble and install without tools. The canopy measures 48” x 32” x 30” and the pad is comprised of ½-inch closed cell foam, which is easy to rinse with a hose.
PROS : Many owners liked the Bushwhacker K9 Canopy, praised its quality, and loved the way it protected their dog from the sun and rain. It appears to remain securely attached to the truck bed even at highway speeds, and the padding provides the kind of comfort most dogs want. It is also very lightweight, easy to set up and a breeze to move from one place to the next.
CONS : The Bushwhacker K9 Canopy may protect dogs from sun and water, but it will offer no protection in the case of an accident. Additionally, dogs could easily chew through the tether, if sufficiently motivated.
About: The Gunner G1 Kennel is designed specifically for hunters who need to haul their dog in a truck bed, but it is also appropriate for non-hunting owners too. Rigid and durable, the Gunner G1 is the first kennel to earn a five-star
Features: The Gunner G1 is made with double-walled construction to provide extra protection from UV rays, cold temperatures, and impacts, while the water-repelling windows will help keep your dog dry in the rain – and even if a bit of water splashes inside, the provided drain plugs make it easy to remove this water.
The crate uses all stainless-steel hardware, which will last a lifetime without rusting or causing discoloration. Super strong carrying handles are included to make the crate a breeze to lift and load, and the elevated feet and broad base help prevent tipping. Additionally, the crate features dedicated tie-down pins to ensure it stays in place.
The Gunner Kennel is available in three sizes – small, medium and large – and with either a black or mossy-oak-patterned door.
PROS : There aren’t a lot of user reviews available for the Gunner G1 Kennel, but most owners who shared their experiences were quite happy with the crate. It certainly appears pretty rigid and escape-proof, and it includes a number of helpful features, such as the drain plugs and dedicated tie-down pins.
CONS : The Gunner G1 Kennel requires quite a bit of assembly, and despite earning a 5-star crash-test rating, it’s primarily made from plastic, rather than metal, like some of the other available truck bed crates.
About: The Zinger Winger Aluminum Dog Crate is not explicitly designed for use in truck beds, but it is one of the more robust and escape-proof crates on the market. You’ll just need to purchase some cargo straps to secure the crate in the bed of your truck.
Features: Unlike some other truck-bed and heavy-duty crates, which are made from steel, the Zinger Winger Dog Crate is made from aluminum. This means that it only weighs about one-third as much as similar-sized steel boxes and that it will dissipate heat a bit more quickly and therefore provide a cooler ride for your pooch.
Designed to keep even the most determined dogs contained, the Zinger Winger is equipped with lockable slam latches, which will engage automatically when the door is closed. The front door features bars that allow your dog to see out the door, while the sides feature punched round holes to provide plenty of ventilation.
The durable hammerstone finish looks great and helps to ensure that the box will last for years to come. The crate measures 28” x 32” x 40” and is suitable for dogs up to about 150 pounds. The crate does require assembly, and you’ll need to use a few common household tools to do so.
PROS : Many owners were pleased to discover that the Zinger Winger kept their dog safely contained when other kennels had failed to do so. The locking latches were also easy to operate, according to several owners, and assembly was relatively easy (if a bit time consuming).
CONS : There weren’t many complaints about the Zinger Winger, although a few owners lamented its (extremely) high price. While it is a robust crate, it is still unlikely to provide suitable protection for your dog in the case of an accident.
While it is always better to allow your dog to ride inside a crate placed in the cabin space of your car, there are a few scenarios in which it may be acceptable (though never ideal) to let your dog ride in a truck-bed crate. Just be sure to select the best model for your pooch if you decide to do so and keep safety in mind at all times.
Have you ever used a truck bed crate for your pup? We’d love to hear about your experiences and learn about any crates you’ve found to be particularly effective. Let us know all about it in the comments below!
Last update on 2018-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Ben is a lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, trees, outdoor recreation, science and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com or @FootstepsForest on Twitter.
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