Dog car trips and making them safer
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So you have a dog and a car?
Going on car trips with a dog is something most dog owners will do on a regular basis. There are many different ways you can do this, and some are a lot better than others. Dog car trips must be a safe environment for you, your passengers and your dog.
The dangers of a loose dog in your car
You often see dogs loose in cars, and this is not always the safest way to travel with a dog. If you have other passengers in the car with you, then they can keep an eye on the dog and make sure it does not move around too much. But if you are the only person in the car, then you cannot watch the dog and drive at the same time.
Some dogs are very well behaved and will not move around too much in the car. But dogs that move around a lot can pose a risk. If you need to keep your dog under control, this will take your concentration away from your driving.
As well as your dog distracting you, it could also get in the way of the cars controls like the steering wheel, gear lever and pedals, all of which can cause an accident.
The law and dog car trips
The law states that you should restrain your dog with a seat belt harness or you must use a carrier box, cage or a guard. Also you may find your car insurance invalidated if you have an accident with a loose dog in the car.
What type of car is best for your dog?
If you are a dog owner and you are serious about how well you look after it ( which you should be ), then your choice of car is very important. The best type of car to have is something like an estate, hatchback, people carrier, SUV or a 4×4. A regular saloon car with a boot might not be so good.
If you only have a saloon car then your dog will need to be kept in the rear passenger area. Never put your dog in the boot as this is not safe or nice for your dog. A saloon car can be made to work and there are some dog guards for this purpose, but there are less choices than having a different car. You can also use a seat belt restraint or a net.
It has been known to carry dogs in the back of a pickup truck. If the pickup truck has to stop or turn suddenly, then the dog can be thrown out of the vehicle even if restrained. This is not advised and lots of dogs have been injured or killed this way.
Never leave your dog alone in a car
We cannot stress this enough and it is an absolute no no. Leaving your dog alone in a car be it hot or cold can be fatal for the dog. It seems to happen all too often and owners are just unaware of the problem. Even leaving a window slightly down is not going to make much difference if the car is hot.
People say they were just going to be five minutes, but it ends up being half an hour or more. Effected by heat much more than humans, what seems okay for us can be too much for your dog.
When driving with your dog in a hot car, ensure that there are some open windows or the air conditioning is running to keep your dog cool. If using the air conditioning, make sure the rear of the car is befitting from it and not just the front where you are sitting. Make sure your dog has plenty of water to drink in the car.
Tips when taking your dog on a car trip
Before embarking on your car trip, take your dog for a decent amount of exercise. This will tire out your dog and it will be more relaxed and less hyper in the car.
Do not feed your dog within two hours of the car trip. Your dog might suffer from travel sickness and you do not want to suffer those consequences in your car.
Ensure your dog has water to drink in the car. There are special bowls for this purpose that will not spill easily.
If embarking on a long car journey, make sure you take regular breaks to allow your dog to stretch its legs and go to the toilet.
What is available to take your dog on car trips
There are various things that you can get to make car trips safe and comfortable for your dog.
Dog car guards are very simple and they are just a barrier between the area where the dog is sitting and the passengers and the driver. It is basically a metal frame that fits into the car and they all follow the same principle. They vary a lot in cost and some are a lot better than others. They need to be strong to stop your dog getting past it.
Universal fit guards. On the cheaper end of the scale, there are dog guards that are a universal fit designed to be adjustable so they should be able to fit most makes and models of cars. These can work quite well, but they can be a bit hit and miss whether they will work well in your car. You can find Universal Guards on Amazon.
Vehicle specific guards. Costing more than the universal fit guards are dog guards that are made to fit specific makes and models of cars. These are much better as you know they will fit first time without any fuss. There are two well known makes of vehicle specific guards, Travall and Sakura. You can find Travall Guards on Amazon and Sakura Guards on Amazon.
Dog safety nets work in most makes and models of cars. They are strong and have straps that you tie around things in the car. These are also suitable for a saloon car to keep your dog in the rear passenger area. You can find Nets on Amazon.
Window guards enable you to have a window wound down a decent amount and keep the open area protected so your dog cannot get through it. You can find Window Guards on Amazon.
These are special boxes that enable you to move your dog around easily. They are generally made of plastic, metal or fabric. You can put your dog inside them in the house and then carry the box into the car. They have their uses like taking your dog to the vet or travelling with your dog in someone else’s car.
But they are not ideal to use on a regular basis. They do not give the dog much freedom and it is in a very cramped compartment and are best used only for short trips. You can find Carrier Boxes on Amazon.
These are large cages that can be put inside the rear boot area of a non saloon car. They are much larger than transportation carrier boxes and give the dog a lot more freedom than a carrier box. They come in different sizes and should fit most cars. You can find Cages on Amazon.
These are special seat belts that will plug into the cars seat belt buckle. You then attach this to your dog. It is best not to attach it to your dogs collar, but to attach it to a harness that goes over your dogs body. This will stop your dog getting its neck pulled if the car makes a sudden stop. You can find Seat Belts on Amazon.
If you use your rear passenger area for your dog, then you can get special seat covers to protect the seats. They will keep the hairs off them and stop your dogs claws from damaging them. They come in all shapes and sizes to suit just about any car. You can find Seat Covers on Amazon.
So if you own a dog and take it on car trips, then there are a lot of things to consider. This is not only for your safety when driving, but also to ensure that your dog is also safe and comfortable. This is very important, as your dog will not complain like us humans if things are not right.