Having a dog is just expanding your family with a furry four-legged friend! Think about their safety when travelling in a car in the same way you would think of yours, your children or grandchildren. Dogs must be restrained and not allowed to roam free inside the car. If you have to brake suddenly or they get in the way of you reacting to a hazard, they could get hurt.
If you’re new to this, the thought of planning a trip with your four-legged friend may be a bit daunting. Taking your dog with you is not as simple as snapping on his lead and getting in the car - but that’s no reason to worry. Follow this advice and you will have a lovely day out!
In the Highway Code we are reminded to make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot cause distraction or injure you if you stop quickly. However I often see pets loose in cars when driving - or worse…The other day, on the motorway, I saw a dog sat on the drivers lap with its head out of the window!
You can restrain your dog in many ways - just choose the one that works best for you. If your car is large enough, you can have a cage secured (sounds extreme but it is actually one of the safest options and they don’t mind it). If, like me, you can’t accommodate a cage, try a doggy seatbelt - it’s a harness that clips into the seatbelt clip of your car. It keeps my ‘Digby’ safe in the event of us having to brake or swerve unexpectedly.
If you have a hatch back and the dog is travelling behind the rear seats, have a secure dog-guard fitted, and if possible, put down a non-slip surface for them – imagine sitting loose with nothing to hold on to!
Even if your dogs are small they still need to be restrained. You can find a wide range of things for them to sit in, so long as they are securely fitted.
Does your dog get travel sick? If he does you will want to make sure you have a pet car seat cover or boot liner.
Travelling with a dog is great fun but you do have to take additional items with you - my friend says it reminds her of travelling when her children were small (minus the ‘are we there yet’). You should always carry a water bowl, and water in a bottle cooler, treats, food including any medication, toys, a blanket or dog bed, pet first aid kit and of course, being a responsible dog owner, doggy bags. It may seem a lot but being prepared makes the whole trip easier and more enjoyable!
Three tips for a happy journey:
Take them for a walk before you get in the car - so they are not sat cross-legged for the trip
Have regular breaks - break every two hours for a rest. This will suit your dog perfectly - be careful when getting them out of the car and keep control.
Finally…it goes without saying, but never leave your dog in a car in the warm weather, not even with the windows open. They overheat very quickly. Many dogs still die like this every year.
Follow this advice and you and your canine companion will be riding off into the sunset without a glitch!