Travelling safely with your dog

Cocker spaniels in car bootOver the Christmas season, many of us will be travelling to see friends and relatives around the country.  Those of us with dogs may well be taking our furry friends along as well.  Most of us won’t think twice about strapping ourselves in and putting our children into approved car seats, however how many of us think about the safety of our dogs in the car?  How does your pet travel?

  • In an accident, even a small unrestrained dog can become a deadly weapon by flying around the car, hitting human passengers with potentially deadly force.
  • Dogs are as vulnerable as children to the front airbag which could be deadly to a dog sitting on the front seat, even if it is restrained.
  • A loose dog in the car after an accident could become defensive and prevent emergency services from being able to access the car easily
  • An unrestrained dog can be distracting to the driver and could potentially lead to an accident.

For these reasons, all dogs should be restrained in a car, and not allowed on the front seat or in the front footwell.



Methods of restraint

In the boot behind a grill

A dog guard can be a good way to keep your dog in the boot, however do make sure that whichever model you choose is up to the task.  Most grills will be fine to stop the dog clambering over but may not be sufficient in an accident.  Consider the force a large dog will exert and you can easily see how a high-speed collision could cause both dog and grill to fly forward with catastrophic results. Make sure that you get one that has been appropriately crash tested for your size of dog.

In the boot behind a grill

A dog guard can be a good way to keep your dog in the boot, however do make sure that whichever model you choose is up to the task.  Most grills will be fine to stop the dog clambering over but may not be sufficient in an accident.  Consider the force a large dog will exert and you can easily see how a high-speed collision could cause both dog and grill to fly forward with catastrophic results. Make sure that you get one that has been appropriately crash tested for your size of dog.

In the boot in a crate

Bernese Mountain Dog and Golden Retriever in crateKeeping your dog in a crate allows you to use the boot for other purposes without worrying about your dog climbing all over the shopping for example! To prevent the crate + dog becoming yet another projectile, it is important to make sure the crate is properly secured in your car and that the crate is strong enough not to break in case of a collision. The only crate that I can find at the moment which claims to be properly crash tested is the Variocage from Safedog.

On the back seat with a harness

There are many different restraining harnesses on the market but most are just that – aimed at restraint, not safety. They will stop your dog moving about freely while you are driving but provide no protection in case of an accident. I have only been able to find two independently safety-tested harnesses available in the UK – the ClickIt Harness by Sleepypod and the Solvit Deluxe Car Safety Harness.  For small dogs, you can use the Solvit harness in conjunction with the Solvit Booster Seat which allows your pet to see out of the window, while still keeping them safe.

On the back seat in a carrier

For very small dogs and puppies it may be safer to have them in an enclosed carrier on the back seat.  Again, this needs to be properly attached to the car so that it does not go flying if you have to break suddenly.  Sleepypod have made two different carriers which have both undergone independent safety tests, the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bedand the Sleepypod Air which is also designed to fit under an airline seat.



Whichever way you choose to restrain your dog, have a safe trip this Christmas and leave any comments about travelling in the car with your dog below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *