As safe drivers we always buckle in ourselves and our children before starting the engine. We spend a fortune on appropriate baby seats and boosters. But what about the safety of our dog? The results can be devastating if we ignore the safety risks and something goes wrong whilst driving. Please take your time and read these dog-safe driving tips.
We love our dogs as part of the family and we want them with us all the time, even when going for a ride. But as dog owners we also have an obligation to transport them safely, for their own welfare as well as ours, and that of other drivers on the roads. A US study showed that around 22% of car crashes are caused by driver distraction, so even though we may worry about our dogs being comfortable on car journeys, restraining them properly ensures that they, we and other drivers are less likely to get hurt if there is an accident. Dogs sitting on the driver’s lap or gets on or under the accelerator and brake pedals can interfere with the driver’s ability to drive the car.
So, driving with a dog involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and turning on the engine. The following rules help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip.
Keep your pets safe and secure in a soft crate or carrier. Make sure that the crate is large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Before you put your pup in a crate or carrier, it’s wise to get him used to it, in the comfort of your home, before your trip. And, always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift if you do a quick stop.
Get your pet used to driving by taking him on a few short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car.
Feed your pet before driving and never in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive. If the drive is long, make a few breaks where you can give your pup a treat. It’s actually recommended that drivers have a 15-minute break every two hours, and this is particularly important when you have animals on board.
When driving with a dog, always pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity and comfort in the crate. A favorite toy or two relieves stress.
Yes, it looks cute on photos, but never allow your dog to ride with his head outside the window. He could be injured and you could get distracted. Keep him in the back seat in his crate.
If you leave the car, never leave your animal alone in the parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, the temperature can rise in no time, and heatstroke can develop.
Teach your dog good car manners and how to be calm during the drive. Dogs who are quiet and well-mannered in the car, make it easier for the driver to stay focused.
Don’t forget a resealable, spillproof water bowl.
Bring mats and liners to put in the crate. A mat helps protect carpets and makes cleanup easier.
Planning! Before you set off, think about your journey. Make sure you plan your route well – how long it takes and what your pet might need on the way. If you travel across boarders, bring along your pet’s vaccination record, medication and a pet first-aid kit, collar ID tag, Tractive GPS Tracker and a list of lodging, pet stores, emergency services, and pet friendly parks along the way.
Something missing? What else to remember when driving with a dog? Please share your tips and knowledge.