How to Keep Your Dog Safe on the Road
By: Abby Marshall | Reviewed by Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Jul 31, 2017
Do you like taking your dog with you when you travel? Whether you’re running to the store or going on a long road trip, you probably enjoy excursions more when your dog is by your side. However, have you given any thought to your pup’s safety (and your own) while he’s in the car? You should. Here are some things to consider to keep you and your dog safe on the road.
Unrestrained Pets Present a Hazard
As part of a survey conducted by AAA and Kurgo Pet Products, “84 percent of survey respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips.” However, “only 16 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog.” Additionally, survey respondents admitted to playing with, giving treats to, petting, and allowing their dog to sit on their lap while driving.
These unsafe behaviours are dangerous for both the dog and any people riding in the car. Not only can a loose pet distract a driver, in the event of a crash, a dog can become a projectile. As stated in an article published on Allianz Insurance’s website, “at a speed of 40km/h, an airborne dog can develop projection forces equaling 40 times its weight.” In an accident, an unrestrained pet could hurtle through the car, sustaining serious or life-threatening injuries, or injuring other occupants of the vehicle.
Using Crates, Pet Barriers, or Harnesses
When traveling with pets, put safety first. Although it may be fun to ride around with a dog on your lap, this can cause a break in the concentration needed for driving. And if a dog is climbing over the seat to get a glimpse of something outside, you may not be able to see an obstacle in the road. Even worse, an excited puppy can get underfoot and make it difficult for you to hit the brakes when you need to stop.
One option is to keep a travel crate in your car. Look for a product that’s sturdy and that has enough room that your pet can turn around and lie down comfortably. Before buying, make sure the crate will fit in your car.
Another choice is to purchase a pet barrier for your vehicle. Usually found in SUVs, hatchbacks, or minivans, these devices can be used to create a pet area inside the vehicle.
Harnesses are a popular alternative to crates. A harness should keep your pet in its seat, but make sure the one you select allows your pet to sit and lie down. When choosing a harness, look for one that has been tested for safety. Some products have been put through stringent crash testing and may be a better choice to keep your pet secure in an accident.
A Note About Pickup Trucks
We’ve all seen it – a pickup truck driving down the highway with a dog loose in its bed. While transporting your pup this way is never a good idea, in some areas it’s actually illegal. If the truck hits a bump, the dog can fall out of the truck bed, and if the vehicle is involved in an accident, the dog may be jettisoned, sustaining fatal or serious injuries. Additionally, the dirt and grime the dog is exposed to while riding this way can damage its eyes or nasal passages.
If you own a pickup truck and want your furry friend to travel with you, a better option is to use a harness to secure the pup in a seat, or strap a crate into the truck bed. If you insist on allowing Fido to ride unrestrained in the truck bed, attach a shell to it so that he can’t fall out.
Traveling can be a lot of fun with your faithful companion by your side. However, make sure all occupants of the car travel safely by purchasing a harness or crate for your pup, or by barricading a section of the car just for them. A properly restrained dog benefits you, your pup, and other drivers and users of the road.
For a brief overview about how to keep your dog safe on the road take a look at the clip below!
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