It might seem simple to just put your dog in the car to go to the vet or to the park, but lots of dog owners don’t know as much as we should about how to keep our dogs safe in the car. Just like when you travel with people, you’ve got to make sure your dog is secured in the case of any accident. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes though, so for help on how to get started, I’ve done lots of research so your pup can stay safe.
Why Restrain Your Dog?
If you have a dog that’s quiet and passive, you may not understand the struggle of those dog owners with dogs that leap around and beg for your attention. Even if your dog is really well-trained though, you do need to keep them restrained.
In the case of an accident, they can become injured or thrown around. If your dog does happen to be safe after something has happened, they’ll be understandably distressed however, and may cause more damage to themselves or others who are in the car. To prevent your dog from running away or hurting themselves, keep them safe with some sort of restraining method.
There are a few things you can try which make it easier to keep your pup safe in the car. Next time you go out, you won’t need to worry about being distracted as a driver, or concerned about your pet.
One of the tried and true methods is the harness. Restraining your dog with just a collar can harm them if you crash, while a harness protects the neck and spine. Lots of these types of harnesses even have a loop that you can thread the seat belt through.
I’m sure you’ve thought about the classic method of the seat belt. Dog seat belts will attach to harnesses to keep your dog immobilized in the back seat. They can clip into the seat belt lock too, so choose the best one for your car. These will confine your dog in the case of an accident while keeping them safe if they’re distressed.
You might not need it if you have a larger dog, but for those of you with dachshunds or bulldogs, a booster seat is a great option. They fit right in your back seat and are secured with a seat belt that attaches to your harness. This allows your dog to look out the window and relax, all while sitting in a comfortable bed. Just add blanket and your little pup will be perfect.
Ultimately, the best method you can use for safety is a crate that you’ve secured with a seat belt. Your dog will be able to calm down if they’re a little overwhelmed by new sights and sounds while still being safe. What type of crate works the best? Well, first and foremost, make sure you get the right sized crate for your dog, and choose something that’s both safety-certified and crash-tested.
In terms of materials, pick out a crate that will last. Aluminum and plastic reinforced with fiberglass is our preferred option, since these are much more durable. Anything you pick should also have great air circulation for easy breathing, and insulation so that you can use it during any season. You can even put crash bags inside the crate for extra protection if you have to slam on the brakes suddenly.
Dogs do love to ride in the front seat with you, but since they’re safer in the backseat, try a barrier to separate the front and back. Secure your pup in the back with a special fence that can be installed in your specific car so even little dogs can’t slip into the front seat.
That being said: do not use these if your dog will still end up slamming into them in their effort to get to the front seat. In that case, you might want to try a harness.
What Not To Do
You can do a lot to keep your dog safe, but there are a few things you should avoid at all costs as well.
Always remember to keep your pet sitting in the back seat and secured with some kind of safety restraint. Your pet should never ride in the front, and should never be allowed to roam in your car or truck either. It’s definitely unsafe to have your dog sit in your lap. That’s not only dangerous for your pet, but for you as the driver too.
When you leave the car, also remember to never leave your dog alone. Especially in hotter weather, this can be life threatening even if the windows are cracked.
Now that you have your dog all set up in the car, you’ve got to consider a couple more things during actual travel. For the utmost comfort for you both, remember these travel tips:
- Take breaks! Let your dog get out and stretch their legs or do their business every few hours.
- Turn off the power windows in your car. If your dog accidentally flips the switch, it can be dangerous for them.
- This may seem obvious, but make sure your dog has access to water at all times. Store a bottle in your car, or keep a bowl out for them to drink.
- Provide your dog with treats, meals, and chew toys too in order to keep them occupied. Toys can also help if your dog has a bit of travel anxiety.
It’s important to keep your pup safe no matter where you go, so when you travel in the car, be sure you’ve got the proper safety precautions set in place. That can be a crate, a harness, or a seat belt, but no matter what you use, make sure your dog is comfortable and that you’re not distracted. If anything does happen, you’ll be sure your dog is completely safe no matter what.