Four-legged friends can be great travel companions, but it’s important to stay safe

Dogs are family for most owners. They are treated with love and care, so it makes sense that they will come on family journeys too. Although there’s little in the way of specific legislation, it’s still important to keep everybody safe and comfortable.

Fit a proper restraint

The first consideration is probably the most obvious. A dog bounding around the car like an excited puppy might sound cute, but it’s a real danger on the road. The consequences of the driver’s hands being knocked off the wheel don’t bear thinking about, so an appropriate restraint is essential.

Some smaller dogs might be fine simply placed in a hatchback or estate car’s boot. If they can’t jump over the back of the rear seats, they shouldn’t pose any danger. Thankfully there are a number of options for larger dogs, like specifically-designed car seats with tight-fitting harnesses, simpler restraints that might allow a dog a little movement, and of course classic mesh boot guards, which stop lively dogs jumping up over the seats.

Leaving dogs in cars
It’s a very well known fact that dogs can die in hot cars, so if you’re leaving your furry friend where they are, make sure that you’ve left a window open enough for them to get plenty of air – better still tie them up outside and in the shade. Some cars allow you to do this by giving you the option to disable any interior alarm sensors the system has. Make sure you’ve pressed the correct button or Rover will just keep setting the alarm off.

As for security, leaving a window open and deactivating part of the alarm system could have implications for your car insurance. Some insurance providers might not pay out if a car were to be stolen as a result of your dog-friendly measures, so the best solution is to avoid leaving your dog alone in the car at all.

Long journeys
Only you know how well your dog travels, but don’t make unrealistic expectations of them. You may be able to travel three or four hours in a single hit without a break but don’t expect your dog to do the same; get into the good habits that you should use as a solo driver and take a break every two hours. Most motorway service stations have at least some kind of grassy area where you can give your dog a little exercise, but unless it’s fully gated off make sure to keep them on the lead.

It’s also crucial that your dog has access to fresh water. Keeping a water bowl in the back of a car may sound tricky but there are several solutions, including magnetic bowls. ‘floating’ bowls or simply something strapped securely to the boot floor.


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