How to keep your dog safe in the car during your journeys

05 April 2019 / Lindleys Autocentres

Making sure your pets are safe and secure during both long and short car journeys is actually very similar to child car safety. Think about it, you would never let your child stick their head out of the window, or worse, letting them move around inside a moving vehicle.

The factors that you will need to take into consideration is the size of your dog, along with the type of car you own. As you should already know, it is not acceptable, nor is it safe to drive while your dog is sitting in your lap. You should never leave your pet(s) alone in your vehicle, regardless of the weather type. However, in this article, we will explain the car safety measures that should be enforced for pet owners.

Dog car crates

To ensure that your dog(s) are kept safe in your car, crash-tested crates are a great option. Find one that is safety-certified, the right size for your dog, and leaves them enough space for air circulation. Be sure to take a look at the materials used to make up the crate as you need something that is durable. Make sure to do research on the crates and only consider ones that are made by trustworthy brands and are produced with quality guidelines.

Dog harness

If dog crates are not your preferred option, you can always choose a dog seat belt and harness. The travel harness will plug into the seat belt plug and keeps them secure in a rear car seat. This will prevent your furry friend from roaming around in your car. In no circumstances should you attach this harness to the dog collar.

Just like the dog crates, you must do research prior so that you invest in high-quality, crash-tested seat belts.

Take regular breaks on long car journeys

When travelling with your pets for prolonged periods of time, regular breaks are vital. Understand that although we can cope with staying in one place for a long time, dogs have different needs. Stopping off at a spread of greenery allows them to use up some of their pent-up energy;  ultimately preventing them from being irritated from staying in one place. It is recommended to let them out every 2-3 hours.

Child-proof your vehicle

For many dog owners, they consider their pets as an additional member of their family. Therefore, you must see their safety in the car just as important as you would a child.  When it comes to travelling with your extended family, it is best to “child-proof” your car. Regardless of whether you are quickly running errands and have your dog with you, your pet will get restless and look for things to touch and play with. Unfortunately, this will include things like electric window buttons and door handles.

Typically, child door locks are located on the rear passenger doors and should be below the latch on the outside edge. These locks can only be activated/deactivated when the door is open. When activated, it means that your dog(s) are not able to open the door from the inside.

It is very easy for your dog to get their paws on the interior buttons and accidentally open the window. This may seem innocent and okay to some, but there have been cases where dogs get too excited and jump out of the moving vehicle; or even worse, accidentally choke themselves by closing the window. To activate window locks, simply press the window lock button that is located on or near the driver's side door. Once activated, the driver will have control over all of the windows in the car.

Keep your pet hydrated

Your little (or big) companions will need regular access to water, especially if you are going on a road trip. It is advised to have water with you as you never know when you're going to need it, especially in the case of an emergency. When travelling with pets, bringing a bowl along with you so that they can drink out of it is also very handy.

Dog drinking water

How to make your dog feel more comfortable in the car

For some dogs, the act of being in the car can be frightening - and for you - It can be difficult to stay focused and keep safe on the road when your dog is acting up out of their fear. As each dog is different, there could be various ways to why your pet is scared of being in the car. However, there are ways to find out what it is and gradually get your dog(s) used to travelling in the car.

In some cases, the fear of being in the car can stem from motion sickness. Yes, that is correct, dogs can get car sick too. The unfamiliar feeling can cause the dog(s) to become troubled and disturbed from riding in the car, especially during long trips. Things like the sound of the engine and vibrations can put the dog off from wanting to be in a vehicle. Not to mention the sight of seeing everything whizz past them.

On the other hand, a dog’s fear of being in the car may not even be due to motion sickness. If the only time your dog experience car journeys is when they are going to the vets, this may automatically associate the car with negative experiences. Of course, this will only be the case if your pet(s) are scared about going to the vets, however, be mindful of what car journeys could mean to your dog(s). Through a lot of positive reinforcement, your dog will eventually start to associate car trips with good memories.

It is suggested that you shouldn't take a forceful approach to get your dog in the car, especially if they have some form of phobia. Instead, guide them towards the car with a lot of positive praises, toys, and treats they love. It may take a couple of trials to get them to comply without hesitation but do not give up.

It will help if you have all the doors open at first so that your pet doesn't feel like they are going to be trapped. Through friendly tones and encouragement, have one person (preferably someone the dog trusts) inside the car to show the car is a safe place to be.

Now, once your dog(s) is inside, do not shut off the positive reinforcement by closing all the doors and setting off. This will defeat all of the steps you have done prehand. Take some time to show your dog some love through snuggles and treats. Once you feel your pet is more comfortable with the idea of being in the car, slowly close the doors one by one. If on the first door you notice your dog seems startled, lay off from the act of closing any more doors and wait until they feel comfortable again.

For the sake of getting your pet used to the idea of riding in a vehicle, start off with short fun trips. This could be something as simple as driving around your local area for 5 minutes so that your dog understands they will eventually make it back home. During that journey, you keep up with the positive reinforcement. Alternatively, t. Keep in mind that you may need to cut trips short if you notice your dog(s) becoming agitated.

Now of course, to make sure your dogs are safe in your vehicle, your vehicle must be in good working condition. From your air conditioning to the brakes and tyres, you must safeguard everyone who enters your car by visiting your local car garage when issues or concerns crop up.

If you are going on holiday in your caravan, it is a good idea to have your tyres checked, at Lindleys we offer caravan tyre fitting where we will come to you and fit tyres through our mobile tyre fitting service.

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