Thursday 28 July 2022

Paws on board? Dogs in cars – how to travel safely with your dog on board

Inevitably, your dog will travel in the car with you, whether you’re off on a well-earned break, or simply going out and about for a long walk somewhere. But thinking about the options for the safest way for you and your dog to travel in the car together is not a subject that all owners consider fully.

It’s important, as making sure that your dog is restrained properly is part of the Highway Code. Dogs can and do cause accidents when the driver is distracted by them in the vehicle.

Certainly there are plenty of options on the market for the dog-owning motorist. So whether it’s a dog car seat, a seatbelt and harness, or a grille that keeps them safely in the back, there’s lots to consider.

The size and strength of the dog is a key factor. Whilst some car seats may look cute and appealing, they are usually only suited to small and lightweight dogs, and may not provide enough security and protection to the dog if the vehicle were to be involved in a crash. They may not restrain a heavier or more active dog safely, putting both dog and owner at risk of injury.

Not all dog car seats have been tested in crash conditions, and of course dogs come in many shapes and sizes, so a ‘one size fits all’ product is not going to be right for many.

Moreover, owners have different views about what is the best way for their dog to travel in the car. Some owners of small dogs prefer a sturdy strap that attaches to the dog's harness and the seatbelt rather than a car seat.

A sturdy metal grille (or sometimes a crate) may give both owner and dog a sense of security, because the dog is safely contained in the back of the vehicle. These are usually used for larger dogs. However, the dog is not usually restrained within the space in the hatchback or boot, so should there be a collision he or she would be thrown around in the area or within the crate, likely causing them injury.

A safer alternative to a crate or grille is a crash crate; these have been designed not to deform during an accident, built to withstand side, front and rear impacts, with some also preventing damage caused by cars rolling. You will, of course, pay a premium for this level of protection, but you'll get much better protected from rear-end shunts and side impacts than with a normal crate.

Do consider carefully the safest and most comfortable way of securing your dog when travelling by car. It could help to save both you and your dog’s life in an accident.