Keeping Your Dogs Safe in the Car While Travelling
An astonishing statistic shows that 84% of dog owners regularly travel with their pet unrestrained in their car.
As much as you want to keep your dog comfortable when traveling, leaving them unrestrained can cause harm to you and your pet.
An unrestrained dog could become a projectile during a car crash and an impact into the dashboard or the back of a seat can severely injure or even kill your dog.
As morbid as this may sound, there are plenty of options to keep your dogs secured in your car without sacrificing too much of their comfort. We will go through these different types of restraints here.
Dog Harness Seatbelt
A dog harness seatbelt suits trained and well-behaved dogs because the harness restricts free movement with a strap that is plugged into the seatbelt. This level of restriction is not suitable for more energetic dogs.
This type of car harness should only be used for dogs that are over 9 kilograms as smaller and lighter dogs are not heavy enough to cause the seatbelt to taut if a vehicle were to suddenly stop or be involved in an accident.
Look for wide straps and padded chest pieces to make the restraint as comfortable as possible for your dog. The tether attached to the seatbelt should also be short so your dog won’t be propelled too far forward.
A zipline harness is perfect for active and young dogs who may become restless if forced to sit in one spot for an extended period of time. This type of harness will restrain your dog in the backseat while allowing them some movement.
Since a zipline harness allows more movement than a dog harness seatbelt, it is not recommended for small dogs as they may fall into your car's footwell if you suddenly hit the brakes. You can also get a shorter strap to prevent this from happening.
Plush Carry Box
A plush carry box is a way to go if your dog is too small to wear standard harnesses. It is also perfect for anxious puppies since the elevated box gives them a good view of their owners and surroundings.
Just make sure that the plush box is big enough so your dog can sit and lie down when they need to. For restless pups, you can also put their favorite toy in the box to keep them entertained.
A hard-sided crate is a great way to secure your dog in the car. It should be large enough for them to stand up, lie down, and turn around when they need to. Putting a soft bedding inside the crate will keep them more comfortable as well.
A crate will protect your dog from flying objects inside the car in case of an accident. It will also prevent them from being thrown in such situations. It's best to tether the crate to a back seat to make sure that it does not move around in transit.
It is worth noting that crates may not be the best option for dogs who are not used to confined spaces. Putting them in crates may cause them to throw a tantrum and will just be a distraction to the driver, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
If you're a frequent traveler who goes on trips with your dog, getting a semi-permanent crate fitted in the boot of your car could be a viable option. This kind of crate is more roomy and sturdy than regular crates giving your dog a more comfortable space while keeping them safe in the car.
Passenger Seat Hammock
A passenger seat hammock is recommended for older dogs as they need to lie down more often. The hammock will prevent them from falling off the seat and stop them from climbing into the front seat. Getting a hammock with a non-slip covering is advisable so it doesn't slide off the car seat giving your older dog a more pleasant ride.
A back-seat barrier is most fitting for large dogs who can't relax when they are restrained. The barrier will stop your dog from going into the front seat and will allow them to move freely in the back. The barrier will also keep your dog in the back seat should you hit the brake abruptly.
You can also use a zipline harness in conjunction with a back-seat barrier to keep your dog catapulting forward.
Making An Enjoyable Journey for Your Dog
Aside from keeping your dogs safe, it is also important to make each trip a positive experience for them. This will help your dog build up a constructive familiarity with car journeys decreasing the likelihood of unnecessary stress on your future trips. Some things that you can do include:
- Schedule stops every hour and a half - let your dog stretch his legs, burn off some energy, eat some food, and go to the toilet.
- Don't feed your dog while driving - feeding your dog while driving is a distraction that can lead to an accident and may also cause your dog to choke.
- Don't leave your dog alone in the car - cars can get too hot for dogs. They can overheat within minutes and may suffer heatstroke. Keep your car well ventilated by keeping the windows half open or turning the air conditioning on.
It sounds exciting to go on a trip with your dog, however, it is imperative that you prepare for your pet’s safety first. There is no definite best option from the choices above. Experiment and see which one your dog is most comfortable with.