We’ve talked a lot in previous blogs about ways to get out and about withy our dogs to make the most of your time together, and with summer on the horizon many of us will be making plans to go away with our dogs on trips. There’s lots we can do to make sure our dogs are happy and well-trained, so we can enjoy our days out together safely, but one thing we haven’t yet discussed it how to make sure our dogs are safe while we are travelling with them!
Not only is it important to us to keep our family members safe, did you know it’s also the law in the UK to “make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained” in your vehicle? That means we need to ensure that our dogs are buckled in and/or behind a barrier and unable to reach the driver of the vehicle and create a distraction.
We’ve put together a list of some of the different options we as dog owners have for securing our dogs in our cars!
- Harness & Seatbelt Tether
A lead with a clip on one end to attach to our dog’s harness and an insert on the other end, to plug in just like we would a normal passenger seatbelt. Some are actually loops, clipped to the dog’s harness, which you run your car seatbelt through. This option generally allows the dog freedom to move and lie on any of the car’s back seats. This may seem a comfortable option, but many dogs struggle to settle on car seats and dogs who are prone to car sickness often don’t travel well in this set up.
Many of these seatbelts are not crash-tested, or are indeed crash-tested but actually failed – it's worth doing some research before relying on one of these. Most harnesses are also not designed to function the way a seatbelt does, and may cause our dogs harm in the event of a crash – there are a few crash-tested harnesses on the market, so once again do your research if you are considering the option.
- Dog Guard
Possibly the most traditional option, a guard or grill which fills the space above the back seats to keep the dog in the boot area of the car. Not all dog guards are made equal – there is a wide variety in terms of sturdiness and security! It’s also important to note that car seats etc are not designed to seal off the boot. There are often gaps between the side of the car and the seats, and even with a dog guard there may be gaps between it and the side of the car/seats. If you have a smaller dog, an escape artist or particularly persistent pup, these may not be as secure as they look. Depending on the size of your boot and your dog, they may also leave your pup with a lot of space to be flung around in the event of an accident.
- Dog Hammock
There are large pieces of fabric which attach to various places in the car and create a hammock-type structure across the back passenger seats. This is a nice alternative for dogs who like the freedom to move around up on the seats but avoids them falling in the footwell or covering the seats in hair and dirt. However, these alone are note an adequate restraint as most dogs could get out of the hammock with not much effort if they were so inclined.
- Dog Crates
Dog crates are probably the safest and most secure option for transporting your dog, as they are an enclosed space designed to contain a dog. It’s important your crate is an appropriate size for your dog to be comfortable, but slightly smaller than you might choose for overnight at home etc is fine as it’s safer for our dogs to have less space to be thrown in a collision. There are many crates designed to fit into the boot space of specific vehicles, so you can maximise the space if you have a larger dog and/or smaller boot.
Some crates are relatively flimsy, but there are more and more sturdy and crash-tested crates now available on the market. The TransK9 and MIMsafe are too popular brands of crash-tested which both include lockable doors and escape hatches, so you can still get your dogs out even if the door is blocked. MIMsafe even offer a crash-tested small crate/carrier for very small dogs, which can be securely fitted on the seat of your car using the car’s seatbelts.