There has been lots of talk about how dogs should travel in cars on the facebook forums lately and the law does say that dogs should be attached. So lets have a look at how dogs travel and what common sense rules we can apply to keep them nice and safe.
Driving down the road on any given day, it is not uncommon to see dogs hanging their heads out of car windows, bouncing around freely in cars, and sometimes even on drivers’ laps. It doesn’t take much common sense to know that these are not safe situations, but many of us still allow our dogs to ride in the car unrestrained. Why? Many people feel their dogs become stressed out if restrained. Others feel that their dogs enjoy the car ride because they can do things like hanging their heads out the window. Regardless of how happy these things make the dog, they are undeniably dangerous. Here’s why:
- A loose dog can easily distract the driver.
- An unrestrained dog can block or move the steering wheel, gear shift and gas/brake pedals.
- A loose dog can be injured or killed by an airbag.
- When hanging its head out of a car window, debris from the road can injure a dog’s eyes, nose, and mouth.
- In the case of an accident or even stopping short, your dog can become a dangerous projectile. This not only poses a risk to your dog; it is a risk to you, other people in the car, other drivers, and even pedestrians.
- In the case of an accident, a loose dog can become a threat to emergency workers trying to rescue you from a damaged car. Or, your dog could escape and become lost.
Do your dog, yourself and everyone else a favor and restrain him. In addition, do not allow your dog to travel in the front seat, even if restrained. Keeping your dog restrained and in the back will decrease the likelihood of a distraction-related accident and keep your dog safer in a crash.. Here are the main types of car restraint options for dogs:
A cage is one of the safer ways for your dog to travel, provided the crate is very sturdy and secured in place. If you have an SUV or similar vehicle, you may wish place the crate in the cargo area of the vehicle. Just be sure to find out if this is the crumple in your car. If so, the cargo area may be the worst place for your dog! A small or medium crate will typically fit in the back seat of most vehicles. Look for straps or harnesses that will keep the crate secured, or find a crate made to have a seat belt strapped to it. Otherwise, you can end up with a deadly projectile in the case of an accident.
A car harness or seat belt is another one of the safer ways to restrain your dog in the car. Car harnesses fit just like regular harnesses but are made to withstand the impact of a car accident. Look for a harness that fits your dog well and attached securely to your car’s seat belts. Thoroughly research the brand of the harness before you buy it to find out what studies the manufacturer has done.
Dog car seats and booster seats are similar to car harnesses but designed for small dogs. The concept is to boost the dog up to a higher level where he can see, but to still keep him safe. Be very selective when choosing a dog car seat. Some are merely modified dog beds that provide little safety. Look for a seat that attaches securely to your car’s seat belts AND has a harness that attaches securely to the dog. Some have leash clasps meant to attach to your dog’s own harness. Never hook this up to your dos collar, as your dog can be strangled in a crash.
Car barriers are designed to block off a section of the car. Some are placed behind the front seats to keep a dog in the back seats. Others are placed behind the back seats in SUVs to keep a dog in the boot area. However, the barrier can easy come apart in the impact of a crash. Even if the barrier stays intact, the dog will still be thrown against it and around that area of the car. Basically, a barrier is better than nothing, but not as good as a harness or crate.
So cage, harness, seat or barrier are all options to consider. Obviously, it is most dangerous to travel with no restraint at all. Your best bet is to find the right restraint for your dog and increase his odds of survival in a car crash.
Not the safest way to travel!