Travelling with Dogs – Car Safety
Most dog owners will need to go on a car journey with their pet at some point, whether it’s a daily outing to the park or an annual trip to the vet.
It’s second nature for drivers and passengers to belt up before a journey these days, but how well secured are our dogs? In a 2010 survey by American auto club AAA, only 17% of owners surveyed ever use animal restraints.
Yet even well behaved dogs can injure themselves or other car occupants if they travel without some kind of restraint. Human injuries can be caused by dogs thrown forwards in an accident, hurting the driver or passengers and leading to expensive personal injury insurance claims.
The Highway Code says, “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 (container) or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
Choose a suitable container for your dog – it should be big enough that they can sit, stand, lie down and turn around comfortably, particularly on longer journeys.
Containers should ideally be placed where they can’t slide about when you accelerate, brake or drive around corners. This will usually be the luggage compartment at the back of the car. Keep containers away from strong sunlight or cold draughts.
If your dog travels in the luggage compartment without a container, at the very least you should fit a dog-guard between him and the rear passenger seat, and a non-slip surface to prevent him sliding about and hurting himself.
Car harnesses for dogs
Various types of car harness are available for dogs and can be bought at little expense. These adapted harnesses attach to your car’s own seat belt. They allow your dog a certain freedom of movement but prevent him from distracting the driver. The harness will restrain him if the car brakes suddenly or is involved in an accident - this reduces the chance of your dog or the car’s occupants being hurt.
Dog guards fit the space between the boot/luggage compartment of your car and the rear passenger area. They prevent your dog from jumping into the passenger area, or being thrown forward through the car in an accident.
Some dog guards claim to be a universal fit for any car, but these can be tricky to adjust for a secure fit – it’s often best to buy a dog guard specifically manufactured for your car model.
Don't risk your dog's life or your passengers' - make sure your dog is safely restrained each time you travel.
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