Travelling with your pooch is a part of life, weather its for the daily walk, or only when you need to head to the vets. Either way it is important for dog owners to understand the legal requirements for transporting their dogs and also how we can best set them up to be comfortable and calm during transit.
The highway code states that.
Rule 57 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.
Failure to comply with this rule could mean that if you get into an accident, your insurance would be invalid. You can also be fined and have pointed added to your licence. If you do get into an accident, some of the methods of retraining your dog could be insufficient and cause them harm. If your dog is kept in a boot during transit and many owners have boot guards or crates to keep them there. However, if these are not crash tested bits of kit and you are rear-ended, your dog could be seriously injured or killed.
Furthermore the method you use to restrain your dog needs to also be able to keep the dog from escaping the car in the event of an accident or breakdown. Many accidents, deaths and injuries occur with dogs getting out the car and running into traffic.
So, it’s important to have a serious think about how you want your dog to travel in the car and what you want to implement to keep you both safe.
Travelling itself can be a problem for dogs who might suffer from anxiety or motion sickness. Check out my top tips for helping your dog:
Start by not even leaving the driveway! Create positive associations with the car and where your dog will be during transit. You can do this by putting your dog in the car and settle them with their dinner or a nice chew or stuffed Kong.
Take your dog on car rides that don’t end in them going for a walk so they don’t get over excited when in a car.
Make sure your dog has been to the toilet before travelling.
Avoid feeding your dog within 30 minutes of intended travel time.
If you’re planning a long journey, research dog friendly pit stops so your dog can stretch their legs and toilet. Many service stations have facilities for dogs.
Open the windows before closing the doors – it relieves the pressure inside. This is especially helpful for puppies as their inner ears are still forming.
It’s important that they have a comfortable bed to curl up in or something they can use to grip and brace against, so they aren’t sliding about.
The repeated high impact of jumping in and out a car isn’t good for young or old joints, nor might it even be possible for dogs with mobility issues. Teaching them to walk up and down a ramp is a great alternative and saves your back from lifting them!
Drive carefully – accelerate and brake slowly and take corners gently. No dog wants to be on a rollercoaster!
If your dog get’s motion sick, try giving them a ginger nut 30 minutes before you leave. If your dog really suffers, you can get motion sickness tablets from your vet.