Driving With Dogs
Did you know the Highway Code states that you must make sure “dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving”? Ensuring your pooch is travelling safely is important to protect them and you if you have to stop suddenly. Many drivers are unaware that failing to do so can result in fines and license points as well as potentially invalidating insurance.
We looked at advice from the RSPCA (in their downloadable leaflet on Transporting Dogs in Cars) and Pets4Homes on transporting dogs in cars.
Crates, containers and guards - Ensure that your 4 legged friend has enough room to be able to sit, stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. They need to be able to see out, as dogs can get anxious when travelling and there must be plenty of ventilation. To prevent your dog from slipping around in the crate, place bedding on the floor. Make sure that crates and containers aren’t so large that the dog could be thrown around if you had an accident.
If using a car harness – These secure your dog by linking it to the car’s seat belt. Always make sure that you have measured your dog for the correct size and that it is fitted in line with manufacturer guidelines. Check that the harness has padding to protect your dog if you have to stop suddenly. For smaller furry companions, you can also buy a booster seat (which works much like a child booster seat) to ensure that the dog is positioned at the correct height for the car’s seat belt.
Training your dog for travelling – Dogs should be trained to sit as quietly as possible and not fidget around. If your dog is anxious in the car then build up journeys slowly until they become more comfortable. Dogs should also be trained to wait until they are told to leave the car – this prevents them bounding out of the car if you are in a busy area.
Keeping them comfortable - Make sure that your dog has a good supply of water and ventilation. You may see dogs travelling with their heads poking out of the window but this is dangerous and should be avoided by making sure any gaps in windows are not large enough for a dog to fit their head through. On sunny days make sure that you have sunshades fitted to protect them from the heat and glare of the sun.
Take breaks - Dogs, like humans, need a break to stretch their legs. Pets4Home suggest that you stop every couple of hours to allow your dog to stretch his legs and go to the toilet. Dogs can also suffer from travel sickness so keep an eye on them during your journey and stop as soon as safely possible if you think they are unwell.
Last but by no means least – NEVER leave a dog in a hot car. The RSPCA advise “When it’s 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour”.