How to travel safely with pets

Blog post posted on 15/07/19 |
Insight

Dylan (the dog)’s blog on travelling safely in the car      

It’s now summer and that means lots of trips and weekends away with plenty of new adventures. 

I love going to new places with mum and dad. They are avid planners and mum is a worrier when it comes to me, so we always have a supply of things in the car.

Luckily our car has a few secret compartments, and a large area under my bed in the boot where all my belongings can go. Here is a list of items that my mum and dad carry:

  • Dog food
  • Bed
  • Doggy first aid kit
  • Large bottle of water kept in a cool cover
  • Travel bowl
  • My drinking bottle
  • Towels (for when I get dirty or go swimming)
  • Treats - I would be quite happy for these to travel with me rather than out of sight! But fear not, I know exactly where they are
  • Floating Borlee (my favourite item)
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Travelling safely in style

I normally travel in my own area in the boot secured by my harness to a cargo point. But sometimes if we take suitcases with us I get to sit on the back seat. If this is the case I am secured with a proper doggy seatbelt which clips in just like a hooman seatbelt.  

The law states that we pooches must be secure. According to Rule 57 of the Highway Code, we four-leggers need to be suitably restrained in a vehicle. This is so we cannot distract or cause injury to other occupants or ourselves if the driver needs to stop quickly.

I weigh 37kg – I’m quite a large Labrador, not overweight just a big boy. The words ‘fat’ and ‘diet’ are most distressing to a lab so I keep quite fit.

Apparently if mum or dad have to brake hard, even at 30mph, the sheer force of me being thrown forward could result in me being catapulted sharply forwards. This could potentially cause life-threatening internal injuries and I’m told the force I would go forward with would be more than 100kg. The experts call this a canine cannonball phenomenon.

For more information from the Highway Code about travelling with pets have a read here.

It’s very important that we wear the right things when travelling in the car. I wear my collar but never secured by it. This could damage my neck if mum or dad had to brake quickly, so I have a harness which is much safer.

Seatbelts and cages

There are other ways to travel though, as you will see from some of the pictures my friends sent me.  These vary from fantastic crash-proof cages and crates travelling in their own space in the boot, to simple harnesses and seatbelts. 

For your hoomans, buckling up is now a very natural thing to do but please don’t try to strap yourselves in their seatbelts. Hooman seatbelts are not designed for us pooches and could hurt us, using them on some pet carriers is not always wise either.

Make sure your mum and dad read the instructions carefully, as some of these carriers are not structurally able to cope with this. This does not mean your carrier cannot be used, it just needs to be positioned in the rear footwell where you will be safer and not run the risk of the seatbelt crushing your carrier.

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I’m sure you all know this but no matter what your size, please never travel or try to travel on someone’s lap. Especially in the front where the airbags could deploy and flatten you if they were to activate.

Some estate and 4x4 types have built-in luggage guards, however we are not luggage and they are not strong enough for us dogs.

If travelling in the boot is where you’re best suited, it’s easy to get a guard for the car. Get mum or dad to look on the vehicle manufacturer or any number of aftermarket specialist website for the right one for your vehicle. This will divide the boot from the rest of the car but still enable you to feel like you're with the family.

Wind in your fur! How to stay safe in the car

Now, I know it’s great fun to put your head out of the window and feel the wind in your fur, but we should really try to not do this. It can be dangerous for us and a distraction for other drivers. If it’s too dangerous for two-legged children to do this, we shouldn’t be allowed to do this either.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who don’t like to travel and suffer from travel sickness, make sure you try to avoid eating before you travel and try to go for a walk before the journey.

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Stops and breaks during your journey

One of the main issues when we are travelling long distances is not knowing when and where to stop for me to stretch my legs, and other things we won’t mention! But it’s not just us four-leggers that should take a break from traveling, it’s recommended that the driver has a break every two hours.

Finding the best place to stop can be tricky, but mum uses this website called Driving with dogs which has plenty of tried and tested places to stop.

Finally, please remember to never ever stay in a car on your own. It only takes a few minutes for the temperature to rise inside and that can be fatal for us - the sun does not have to be out fully either so always stay safe.

Hope you all have a wooflingly good time out and about this summer. Please let me know if you find some excellent places to visit, and let us see your favourite photos of you enjoying your days out in the car.

By IAM RoadSmart dog ambassador, Dylan Ashton

Dylan Ashton aka Dilly Dog

@DillyDog5