How to Drive with Your Pet
We are a pet loving country, we adore our pets, and naturally we want to be around them as much as possible. Sometimes that includes bringing them along with us in the car, whether for short journeys to the local beach, or on rare and sad occasions for a visit to the vets. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your pets is crucial however, as is the health of you and the other drivers around you.
There are a number of ways to achieve this, from harnesses and guards to keep your pet secure, to seat covers and car hammocks to stop you worrying about your seats. And of course, ensuring the animals’ happiness is crucial too. So, with that being said, we have put together a guide on how to drive with your pet, with some tips and advice on keeping them happy, and everyone safe.
The Highway Code stresses the importance of securing your animal while driving, with section 58 saying: “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 seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
One of the best ways to keep your pet safe is a dog crate or carrier, like one of the many supplied by experts The Pet Express. However, these must be big enough to contain your pet – allowing them to stretch and be comfortable – but not too large to send them flying in case of a sudden stop.
Another excellent way to look after your pet during your travels is to install a dog guard between the boot and rear seat of your car. Like the Safe-D-Guard available at Boot Buddy, these provide a safe and secure area for your pet to be restricted to. And while they don’t afford as much protection for your pet as a crate, they are a wonderful piece of equipment for larger animals.
If your pet isn’t to be travelling in a crate or behind a guard, a dog harness is an absolute must. Many drivers like to have their pet sitting in the passenger seats, and while well behaved dogs are hoped for, this could make for a dangerous situation should you become distracted by your pet’s actions.
K9 active stressed to us the importance of keeping your dog restrained while on the road, while also suggesting a couple of items.
“Keeping your dog securely restrained in the car can be tricky as you want to keep him from running loose, but you do not want to restrain him so much that it would make him uncomfortable.
“There are a variety of solutions for this very problem in the form of products like the Kurgo Direct to seat beat tether, Ezydog’s Drive Harness and the Ruffwear Load up harness. All of these products are available to dog lovers who want to keep their pups safe while travelling with them by car. The Kurgo Booster Seat range provides a unique and simple solution for small dogs.”
Pet seat cover
Concerning the protection of your car, pet seat covers can be an excellent tool in ensuring your precious car seats aren’t damaged by claws or tainted by wet dog hair after a trip to the beach. Doggie Solutions have such an item available, one that is made from a heavy duty waterproof material that is universal in its fit and has those all-important anchor points for seat belts and harnesses.
If you really want to go all out in protecting your new Ford Car’s back seats, a car hammock could be just the thing. Fixing to both the headrests of the back and front seats, the hammock will spread to cover the entirety of your vehicle’s back area, helping you to fully avoid any drool, hair and other lovely pet messes that might occur. Just remember to make sure your hammock has those openings for seatbelt buckles.
Don’t let your pet out road side
Another safety aspect to consider occurs when your car is stationary. Letting your pet out of the car may seem like a simple thing, but if you have a dog that is likely to leap out as soon as you set it free, you will need to remember to never open the road side door. Busy roads are no place for your pets, so only let them out in a safe environment, free from traffic.
Stop for bathroom breaks and drinks
Just as important as the safety concerns discussed is the happiness of your pet. Always remember to make frequent stops during your journey, letting your pet out of the car for a drink and bathroom break. Not only will this prevent messy accidents in the car but it will also help provide your pet with a happy and enjoyable journey should you be on the road for a significant length of time.
Sufficient ventilation is essential when traveling with a pet. Cars can become hot and stuffy places, especially during the summer, so always make sure to have fresh air flowing by opening a rear window. Of course, remember to not open them too wide that your dog can stick its head out. Your dog’s happiness is important but always remember to be safe.
Sticking up some sun shades on your car windows will really help your dog out when travelling on those hot and sunny days. If your pet is stuck in direct sight of the glaring sun and unable to move away, they will become incredibly uncomfortable. Prevent this by sticking up a blind, easily fixed with suction cups to backseat windows.
Some animals may struggle with getting in and out of your car’s boot, especially older dogs who are now unable to jump in and out due to aging joints. You can save yourself a trip to the chiropractor, and give your pet the help they need, by picking up a foldable ramp, like this one from Dog Health. These ramps will really help make the whole process of getting in and out of the car so much easier, while also helping you to avoid scratches from clambering pets.
Get your pet used to car travel
Considering how close we are to our pets, it’s easy to think that they will be just as comfortable travelling in the car as we are. But it’s important to get your pet used to car travel by taking them on short trips every now and then. Then after a while of building up gradually, you can embark on a longer trip once you are happy that they are comfortable with car travel.
Above all, always take into account the safety of you and your dog. If you can’t provide a safe and secure environment for travel, then don’t bring them along. But with a little planning ahead, and some sensible investment, there is no reason that you and your pet can’t hit the road together for some memorable adventures.