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Car Travel With Your Dog

Dog Car Travel

With a new study revealing that nearly two thirds (64%) of UK motorists are unaware that driving with an unrestrained pet could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 and invalidation of their insurance, a study carried out by AutoTrader in 2023 revealed that Almost 25% of dog-owner drivers said that they don't restrain their dogs when travelling. This is not just for yourself but also if you use a dog walker too.

It is about time we all take more care of our dogs when they travel in a car. The number of rear-end car crashes recorded in the UK has increased over the past three years despite advances in safety technology, figures revealed, according to research by Accident Exchange. This is despite improvements in collision avoidance systems, more powerful brakes and ABS. Boot floors can be damaged and cause the boot to open, so dogs traveling unrestrained in the boot are then loose within accident scenes. Being loose in a boot, front or back seat is not a safe travel choice. Even if you aren’t in an accident, breaking sharply can cause your dog to slip in to the footwell or fly around your boot causing them significant damage to muscles and in some cases much worse injuries.

1: Know the Law

Are you in breach of Rule 57 of the Highway Code? “When in a vehicle 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 or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.” Read more here.

“Most insurance policies will not cover a motorist who is found driving with a pet if it is unrestrained, meaning pay-outs can be withheld if there is an accident” Read More HERE. Whether it is a quick trip to the shops, driving to your local park or a day trip out, your dogs safety needs to be addressed. If you leave them loose you not only face fines if caught but if you are in an accident and found with a loose animal your insurance is very likely to not pay anything out at all. Is it really worth the risk?

2: Choose a restraint which works for you, your car & your dog.

Whether it is a harness, crate, or dog guard with tail gate. There are plenty of options around. No one but you can speak up to keep your dog safe, if your dog struggles in a crate, either build positive associations or use a harness instead. You can even section off part of your boot with dividers, dog guards and tail gates to prevent them from being thrown about in day to day driving.

Is it Crash Tested?

Many items sold are NOT crash tested and many are unsafe. Check your items and make informed choices. Accidents happen. The most common seat belt attachments or car harness are sold by RAC in the uk and these have not been crash-tested! The seat belt plug is not designed by car manufacturers to withstand force alone. Seat belts work by spreading the stopping force needed to decelerate the passenger across their body with the seatbelt retractor’s lock bar when force is applied. They do NOT work by attaching a harness to you and plugging it into the socket alone.


How a car seat belt is not safe for dogs

3: Invest for life, save money on behavioural training & vet fees and save your dogs life

Whilst is is a legal requirement, your dog deserves to be kept safe when traveling, just stopping suddenly can pull muscles, cause muscular skeletal damage and ongoing pain, often it manifests as busy energetic behaviours like constantly pulling on the lead and jumping up. Prevent the risk by using safe equipment for travel here are some you can look at for harnesses Sleepypod Click it Sport or Kurgo, for crates Trans K9, Variocage Safe Dog Crates, or Pet Ego EB Jet Set Isofix. If you transport your dogs in your boot, then there are three factors you MUST consider. First do you have a dog guard to prevent them from getting in to the back seat? Second do you have a tail-guard to prevent them from being loose if someone rear-ends you? And thirdly, how big is your dog and how big is your boot? If you stop suddenly are they flying about in a space far to big for them, pulling muscles daily bracing when you drive around corners or stop suddenly.

4: All on Board

This information goes for everyone who transports your dog! Whether it is a friend, family member or professional Dog Walker or Daycare it is down to you to make sure your dog is being transported safely. For Professionals it is NEVER ok to put more than one dog in a crate, all dogs should be able to travel in their own space. If the walker / daycare doesn’t have a vehicle big enough for this, choose a walker who can provide this level of basic safety. Parents who ask friends or family to pick up or travel with their child either give them the car seat they use in their car or, if it is a regular set up, many opt to buy a second seat to be used by them. It really shouldn’t be any different for your dog.



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