Driving with a dog is something we all should be mindful of. We use our cars a lot, whether it be for the commute to work, the dropping off and collection of our children or the supermarket shop, whatever the reason, we are in our cars daily and sometimes several times each day.
Much is made of our safety and the need for restraint and many of the newer models of cars are built with a large number of safety features compared with older car models.
We have learned to take heed of the safety advice and in the event of the worst happening and we do have an accident, we can be protected in the best way possible.
Accidents, unfortunately, do happen, even to the best of drivers and often they are not our fault. If you have a dog, as many of us do now, it is no different, your dog has to be afforded the same level of protection as you and the rest of your family.
If a dog is not properly restrained and there is an accident, a whole manner of things are possible your dog could be catapulted out of position, injuring itself or another passenger.
It could become frightened and bite someone or it could become caught in the controls of the car, the possibilities are endless and very frightening. Picking out the most suitable dog car seat is challenging for more tips check out Dogsbarns list of safest boosters.
Driving with a Dog the Right Way
First of all, there are sensible basics when you are setting out:
- Ensure that your dog is comfortable traveling in the car before you make any lengthy journeys, start with short journeys to allow him/her to become used to the protocol.
- Make sure that your dog is seated comfortably and properly restrained (more later). The restraint that you use should be fit for purpose
- Do not allow your dog to be a front seat passenger, he /she should be seated in the back or in the luggage space
- Make sure that your dog has not had a heavy meal before travel as this could cause him/her to feel sick
- Make sure he/she is properly hydrated but not overly hydrated as you do not want to have to stop every 10 minutes
- He/she should not be too warm or too cold and the temperature of the car should reflect that
- Make sure that there is nothing in his / her line of vision that would cause him /her to want to reach and grab
- Close the windows, especially the one beside the dog as dogs enjoy putting their head out of the window to have a look around and this could cause him/her to be injured by another car or object near the side of the road
- You may want to consider using a sunshade as the bright sun could distress and overheat your dog
During the journey:
- Stop at reasonable intervals to allow your dog to stretch his / her legs and to go to the toilet if required
- Do not leave your dog in the car unattended as this could cause your dog to become distressed or overheat as you are not there to control the temperature of the car
- Make sure that your dog is kept properly restrained and does not distract the driver of the car, do not be tempted to remove the restraint at any point during the journey
- Try to keep your dog calm and do not over excite your dog by having children, for example, play with it
Then it comes to the type of restraint that you would want to use for your dog. It is important that your dog is restrained according to the terms of your car insurance policy as improper carriage of a dog can, in some cases, invalidate the policy.
Your dog can be restrained in one of several ways
- Using a harness or seat belt. The seat belt or harness must be of the proper specification and designed to suit your particular dog.
- Using a barrier, either between the front and back seats or between the back seats and luggage compartment. The barrier must be strong and secured properly so that your dog cannot knock it down. The problem with this method is that dogs can still move around and therefore in the event of an accident could be thrown and injured.
- Using a car seat. You must select a car seat that is fit for purpose, the correct size for your dog and the best quality that you can afford
- Using a cage or kennel The cage should be secured to your car to ensure maximum safety and to ensure that it doesn’t move in the event of an accident. If the cage were to be thrown from its position, it could cause serious injury not only to the dog but to a passenger or driver
It is essential that when you are purchasing safety equipment that you consider the following:
- Pick a quality item from a good manufacturer and read the accompanying instructions before installation. Safety and reliability have to come before price considerations
- If you are picking a car seat, make sure that it is the correct fit for your dog and make sure it is not going to be too warm (a fluffy car seat may be great in winter but not so good in the summer months)
- Any equipment that you purchase must be able to fit the make and model of your car, do not attempt to make your own adjustments and check the specification before purchase
- Don’t forget that your companion needs to be certified if they are a service animal
When driving with a dog, you must also consider your dog and its needs. Your dog will have its own individual requirements too.
Journeys can be enjoyable family time, but they must be planned with safety in mind at all times. Drive according to the road conditions, take your time and drive with consideration for others to ensure the best possible chance for you, your dog and the rest of your family’s safety.