[UPDATED JULY 2023]
Whether you're embarking on a cross-country road trip or simply exploring a nearby destination, having your furry companion by your side can make the journey all the more enjoyable. After all, who can resist those wagging tails and excited barks when they realise they're going on an adventure too?
But, before you rev up the engine and embark on your pet-friendly escapade, it's important to be well-prepared. Traveling with pets requires careful planning and consideration to ensure their safety, comfort, and happiness throughout the trip. In this blog, we explore the essential tips and advice to ensure your trip is plain sailing.
Feeling the wind in their fur
In adverts, the image of a dog leaning out of a car window, ears flapping in the wind, has become a symbol of fun and freedom. And they do look like they’re having the best time don’t they?
Some experts believe that dogs enjoy having their heads out of the car window so they can sniff out all sorts of fascinating smells. But, you don’t need us to tell you, it’s not just unwise, it’s dangerous.
That’s because, if a dog pokes their head out of the window of a moving car, they’re at risk of falling or being struck by a passing vehicle or stationary object.
What the law says about car travel with dogs
When travelling with your dog in the car, it’s also important to remember the rules set out in the Highway Code.
It states; “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.”
What’s more, if your dog is free in your car and distracts you while you’re driving, this could be considered dangerous driving, and might invalidate your insurance.
Top tips for safe car travel with dogs
Follow these top tips to make sure your dog’s safety in cars.
Buckle up with a dog seat belt / harness
Dog seat belts or harnesses are a safe, convenient way to ensure your pup can travel comfortably and securely in your car. Simply strap your dog’s body into the harness, feed your car’s seat belt through the webbing handles on top of the harness, clip in the seat belt and you’re ready to go.
Using a dog harness, your dog can safely travel in either the back of your car or in the boot. Even better, when you get to your destination, you can simply clip their lead into the harness and head off for your walk.
If your pooch tends to travel in the front passenger seat, make sure to move the seat as far back as possible and to switch off the passenger-side airbag. Wherever your dog sits in the car, it's also worth paying a little extra to have a dog seat belt / harness that has been crash-tested for safety purposes.
Keep your hound safe in a dog car crate
Take things up a level by making sure your dog is safe in transit with a dog car crate. These are usually made to fit in the boot of your car and come in a variety of durable metal finishes. Some, like TransK9, even have antimicrobial powder coatings to help cut down on fungal infections.
You can have car crates specially fitted to suit your make and model of car or you can opt for a collapsible model that you can fold up and keep in your car when you’re not using it.
Dogs often feel at home travelling in a crate, especially if they’ve been crate trained as a puppy.
Treat your dog to a car carrier
Unlike a dog car crate, which is made of metal, dog car carriers are usually made of canvas or plastic, making them lighter and more portable. One good option is a dog carrier that has a steel frame with a fabric shell, as that will be both strong and lightweight.
Dog car carriers usually have mesh ‘windows’ so that your pooch can survey the world as it passes by, and you can secure them in place by passing your car seat belt through the carry straps.
Keep your dog behind a metal barrier
If you have a metal or mesh barrier that separates your dog in the boot from the rest of the car, you’ll be reducing the chances of your dog distracting you while you’re driving. But you won’t be helping to keep your dog safe in the event of a sudden stop or an accident.
By all means, have a metal or mesh barrier in your car. But if your dog’s in the boot, they should also have their own dog car crate or car carrier as protection.
Happy holidays for pets and people
For more tips on how to enjoy your travels with your dog, check out our blog on travelling with pets in the UK and beyond.