Does your dog love going in the car for an adventure, or do they dread the possibility of going to the vet?
No matter where you are going, safe car travel habits will help make trips less stressful for both you and your pup. You’ll travel with peace of mind knowing that you’re doing everything you can to make every adventure fun and safe.
Dogs Should Never Stick Their Head Out The Window
Though dogs love to hang their head out of the car window while riding, it’s not worth the risk. The breeze can blow dirt particles into your dog’s eyes and ears, potentially causing corneal scratches, infections and other injuries.
Your dog could even hop out of the vehicle, which could result in a fatal injury if you’re driving fast, or they may run into the road and get hit by another car. With your dog safely restrained, you can crack your windows so they can still take in new scents along the way to your destination.
Unrestrained Dogs Cause Accidents
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents. You should always focus on the road while you’re driving, not on petting, comforting or restraining your dog. If your dog is wandering around in your vehicle, they may try to hop into the front seat, get stuck under and around the gas and brake pedal, or otherwise make it impossible for you to drive safely.
Not only do you put yourself and your dog at risk for a fatal crash when you do not restrain them, you are risking the lives of pedestrians, drivers and their passengers. That’s why it’s illegal to drive with an unrestrained animal, according to Rule 57 of the Highway Code:
When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.
If you’re caught with an unrestrained dog in your car and charged with distracted driving, you will get a minimum £100 fine and three penalty points, which increases with multiple offences. Your insurance may not cover damages that occur while you were driving with an unrestrained animal.
How To Properly Restrain Your Dog In The Car
Your dog should never sit in the front of your vehicle. A dog sitting in your lap or in the front passenger seat can be injured, even killed if the airbag is deployed. Always place your dog in the back seat, and make sure they stay there for the entire drive.
Dogs that weigh at least 16.8kg can ride in a carrier or with a seatbelt harness attachment. You should never restrain a dog by the collar to avoid strangulation. The Softex Safety Harness and CLIX Car Safety Harness are both good choices for keeping your dog safe. They are designed to be comfortable, allowing your dog to sit, stand and lie down while you drive.
Adjust your dog’s safety harness so it is snug. They should not be able to squirm out of it. You may need to size down or try a different style to ensure a foolproof fit. You can also convert your dog’s favorite harness into a seatbelt with this seatbelt attachment. Keep in mind that most safety harnesses prevent accidents by keeping your dog restrained, but not all have passed crash tests, and you may want to invest in a harness approved by the Center for Pet Safety.
If your dog is too small for a safety harness, or if you do not have enough room to put your dog on a seat, you can transport them in a crate. The Sky Vari Kennel comes in small to giant sizes, and is airline approved. You can use a soft-sided carrier like Carryall for small to medium sized dogs.