An ATV dog carrier is a box or cage securely attached to a quad so that a dog can ride on an ATV too. It protects the dog from falling off the ATV and from accidentally being hit by trail debris. Dog carriers, simply put, are the easiest, safest, and most practical way to take your furry friend with you out on a ride, irrespective of whether it’s a shuttle around the farm or a longer ride exploring a trail.
As far as ATV accessories go, these are a bit off the beaten path—but they can be extremely useful for pet owners. Dog carriers for ATVs are typically boxes constructed to ensure your dog can stay comfortable, safe, and protected on your ATV. They’re usually mounted to the rear of the ATV, but there are some options out there you can fit to the front rack as well.
Before you buy an ATV dog box, it’s wise to consider all of your needs and options—which we’ll discuss below.
What Are the Different Types of Dog Carriers?
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of dog carriers in the market—hard-sided dog carriers and soft-sided dog carriers.
In most cases, the ones that are compatible with ATVs are hard-sided. Off the shelf, they may not be as comfortable as a soft-sided carrier, but they provide significantly more structural strength and protection. Some owners may choose to tether their soft-sided carriers to their vehicles, but we advise against doing so because they’re not as secure.
Hard-sided dog carriers are usually made of solid plastic materials or wire. If you’ve never seen one, think of a large open-top crate that’s explicitly built for ferrying pets around on your ATV. The ones you can find on the market, like the dog carriers made by Dusty Dawgs, come with features like a drop-down tailgate to make it easier to load your pet, a removable front gate, and rubber bumpers to reduce noise.
Since they’re essentially steel cages, they might be a little uncomfortable for your pet at first. However, companies that sell dog carriers typically offer the option to add extra padding, additional support bards, and more. If you want to save a little money, you can also grab some styrofoam and soft blankets (or a cushion) to DIY the padding.
What to Look For in a Dog Carrier for an ATV?
At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind is the safety of you and your pet. Investing in a high-quality carrier, even if it’s a little on the expensive side, will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing it will stay securely fastened (even if the going gets tough).
The second priority is to keep your dog comfortable. Does the carrier come with padding around the bars and a soft layer at the bottom? Are there any sharp edges you need to cover?
Lastly, you should consider compatibility. A dog carrier eliminates the ability to mount other types of storage or at least drastically reduces it. Some carriers come with a top rack you can use to mount your luggage on top of the carrier, but this may not be a feasible option for everyone.
Check to see if the carrier you’re getting can be taken on and off the ATV easily. If it’s a permanent fixture, you’ll have to think about other ways to carry your luggage.
How Do You Keep Your Dog Safe on an ATV?
Before you get your pet dog onto your ATV, there are some things you can do to make the experience safer and more enjoyable. For starters, get your pet comfortable with the concept of being inside the carrier while your ATV is switched off and stationary. Once they’re comfortable, you can manually rock the quad from side to side, so your pet gets familiar with the movements riding in the carrier will entail.
Once your pet is okay with this, you can ride around with it slowly and see how it reacts before introducing more speed or challenging terrain.
While many of you may be tempted to tether your dog to the carrier with a leash, we advise against doing so. This is because you don’t want them to be trapped or stuck in the event of a crash or tumble.
For the same reason, we recommend leaving the top of the dog carrier open. The safer thing to do is train your dog to remain within the carrier until otherwise instructed. It may take more time and effort, but it’s undeniably worth it to keep them as safe as possible.
The ATV Dog Carrier Checklist
There you have it. That’s all there is to know about dog carriers and how you can use one safely. If you get yourself one and are heading out on a ride with your pet soon, here’s a checklist that will ensure you’re doing everything properly:
Provide a mat, bed, or padding for your dog to lay on
Add roll-bar padding along the top to prevent head injuries
Opt for cooler materials; exposed metal gets hot in the sunlight
Size the box to your dog; too big or too small can be dangerous
Don’t leash or tie the dog in; if the ATV rolls, this will undoubtedly injure your pet
Opt for an enclosed box if you think your dog may jump off the ATV
Remember, the top of an enclosed dog box can provide shade, but an open-top is better for bigger dogs so they can sit upright
Ensure the sides of the box are shielded from trail dirt, debris, and gravel
Consider a multi-use box that can store other items when your pet is not with you
Don’t place cargo in the box with your dog; other items become projectiles in a crash
Ensure that your dog carrier is firmly fastened to the ATV