People up and down the country have a dog as a family pet. As well as being a key part of the family, dogs come with a whole range of extra requirements and needs. But as well as frequent walks and training, they also need to be kept safe in the car.
But making sure your dog is properly buckled up isn’t just important for them - it means you’re not liable to points or fines as a driver. Let’s see what you need to do to keep safe.
Get your dog used to the car
It can be stressful for some dogs to be taken into a car right away and kept there. So it’s a good idea to let your dog get used to the vehicle, even before you head anywhere. Let them have a good sniff around the car, before inviting them to have a look inside.
If you’re planning on travelling with your dog in the boot, then you could let them eat a meal in there - while the car is still, of course - which allows them to see it as a ‘positive’ place.
Keep a close eye on your dog’s body language
Your dog might ‘look’ happy, but you need to keep a close eye on their body language to ensure that they’re not becoming stressed around a car - particularly in the early stages. Signs of distress can include panting, shaking and an avoidance of the car itself when you walk up to it.
It’s a good idea to try and reinforce the car as a ‘fun’ place to begin with, so only take them to places they like such as the park or the beach. If they’re showing signs of stress, then go back a step, and let your dog have a little time away from the vehicle before returning to it.
Make sure they’re properly secured
Dogs will need to be secured with a harness and seat belt if you’re planning on having them on the back seats. There are plenty of providers for these, while some car manufacturers even offer their own versions. If it’s found that you were involved in an accident because your dog was unsecured and interfered with the car’s controls, you could be liable to six points and a fine of up to £2,500.
If they’re going in the boot, then they’ll need be kept behind a dog ‘grate’ or within a crate. They should be able to do a full ‘three-point turn’, too; if they can’t spin around, then there isn’t enough room for them in the boot.
Keep treats to hand
It’s not only humans that like a few snacks mid-journey - it’s the same for dogs too. So keep a few of their favourite treats to hand so that you can reinforce good behaviour along the way, or even just to let them know that you’re aware that they’re still sitting there.
Pack water and remember breaks
As well as treats, you should keep a bottle of cool water to hand for your pet - particularly on a hot day. Some companies even make water bottles with easy ‘spouts’ on the end designed to help your dog drink from them.
Plus, remember to factor in frequent breaks to allow them to get out and stretch.