Dog Behaviour

Sue Gilmore MA FCFBA

Dogs in Cars

Most dogs are happy to jump into cars knowing that journey’s end will bring excitement, new terrain and the chance to explore.

Laws have been enacted to safeguard children when travelling in cars for years and provision has now been made for dogs within the Highway Code:  Section 3 (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 set belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

Here are a few of my suggestions that may just make your dog’s – and your – journey a little happier and safer.

  • Secure your dog into the car with a safety harness, to ensure that he doesn’t become a missile: Sharp braking can project a dog forward, towards or through the windscreen. It will also stabilize him and help to prevent travel sickness.
  • A travel cage/kennel is useful to help your dog feel comfortable during transit. An added benefit is that a dog is less likely to bark at other dogs, cyclists or passers-by.
  • When going on a long journey, plan to stop regularly to ensure that your dog can be given water and the chance to make himself comfortable. Avoid feeding him before the journey – remember it can take several hours to digest food, more if he’s excited.
  • Always allow plenty of ventilation during the journey and also when you stop. Never leave your dog in a vehicle, even in cold weather – winter sun heats up cars just the same as solar panels. Thieves are about, so be mindful when travelling with your dog.
  • Keep the volume of your car radio or music to a modest level – remember your dog’s hearing is much more acute than yours.
  • Plan ahead and the journey for you and your dog will be a good experience for you both.