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How to Carry a Dog Safely in a Car
The Law regarding Dogs in Cars
Whilst there is no specific law regarding how to travel with a dog in a car in England and Wales Highway Code Rule 57 states 'When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you when 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'.
It is is an illegal act for a driver not to be in full control of their vehicle, and convictions could follow if a dog or puppy, for example, climbs onto the driver's lap and causes an accident.
Unrestrained dogs can also be a distraction to the driver if they are looking round to check what they are up to.
The AA warn that a dog who is not restrained and who is sitting in the back seat of a car can turn into a potentially lethal missile in a crash at just 30 mph.
Dog and Puppy Car Restraints
If you have an estate car then you can use a dog guard. This will keep your puppy from hurtling into the front seats if you have to make a sudden stop, however it will not protect the puppy from hitting the dog guard. A dog guard is a much better option, however, then just having the dog loose.
Many people travel with crates in the rear of the car - a crate will confine your puppy and help him to feel secure, but the crate should be placed where it is unable to move around otherwise it, and the puppy, will be sliding all over the place. The crate will limit the dogs movement in an accident.
If you have a saloon car or a hatchback you may have no option other than to travel with your puppy on the rear seat. Never let your puppy sit in the front seat - for a she will be more of a distraction there, and it is easier for her to climb onto the driver. If you have an accident and have a passenger air bag the result will be disasterous. Dog harnesses are a very good way of securing your puppy in the car. The harness usually clips into the seat belt lock, or the seat belt can be threaded through it. Your puppy will still be able to sit, lie down, or stand, but it's movements will be limited. It will be secured if you take a corner sharply, or if you have to suddenly brake.
Some owners mention their dogs are much happier travelling with a harness as they are unable to slide around and off the seat, and it has been known to help with car sickness as it makes them sit looking forwards.
Dog Car Booster Seats
Yes, you really can get booster seats for puppies and dogs. They keep the dog secure, whilst also allowing them to look out of the window.
They are only really suitable for small or medium sized dogs or for young puppies.
Leaving your Puppy in a Car
NEVER leave your puppy or dog in a car on a sunny or hot day, even if you have parked in the shade. Dogs do not sweat like we do, and get hotter quicker. Leaving a window open will not be sufficient to keep her cool and she will cook to death from heatstroke - a nasty and unpleasent way to go.
If it is a cold day you can leave your puppy in a car, but always leave the windows open a little so some air can get in, but not down far enought so that she can jump out. Make sure you set your car alarm so movements inside the car do not set it off - otherwise you'll have a frightened and scared puppy on your return.
Don't Let Your Puppy or Dog hang her head out of the Window
Whilst dogs seem to enjoy driving along with their heads out of the window, it is a dangerous thing for them to do. A stone thrown up from the road or even an insect could hit the dog's eye with some force when travelling at speed, and you could have a nasty injury on your hands.
A dog's head hanging out of the window could be a distraction to other drivers.
Going on a Long Car Journey with your Puppy
Be prepared - take water, a water bowl and poo bags with you. Plan in frequent stops so that your puppy can relieve herself regularly. Make sure you never let her out of the car without being restrained - a dog loose on the road is not a good idea. The Clik Safe Car harness, and other harnesses, can also be used for walking so these are ideal to unclip and then use to keep your puppy safe. Otherwise make sure you put on the lead before opening the door.
Puppies and Car Sickness
Puppies get travel sick just like humans. Don't give her a big meal just before travelling and having a chew or toy to play with can occupy her and help reduce car sickness. Most puppies get used to the car's motion after a time, but if the problem persists you can talk to your vet who might be able to prescribe medication if you have to take a long trip.
Make sure you are driving as smoothly as possible, taking corners gently, and avoid sharp braking. Increases in a dog's stress levels will worsen car sickness. If your dog seems stressed try turning down the radio.
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