The whole Thisis.dog team encourages you to take your dog on holiday with you, even if it means taking the car! You will thus introduce your companion to new places, new people and situations. However, car trips with doggo are not always simple. You must respect the law and a few common ground rules that will help ensure your trip is safe for you and your dog. Here are a few things that can help you along.
Should You Strap Your Dog in?
There is no law recommending putting a seatbelt on your dog in a car, but an article in the French Highway Code states that a driver must always be in a state of readiness and in a position to perform the manoeuvres required of him conveniently and without delay. It is easy to understand that a huge German shepherd sitting on the gearshift would be embarrassing…
Please, put your dog in the backseat and strap it in safely. In case of a crash, your pet will have more chances to survive the collision.
Where Should My Dog Be in the Car?
Can I Put My dog in the Trunk of the Car?
Weirdly, yes, you can. If your dog has a travel cage, make sure that there are no dangerous objects in the trunk before you put your pooch in. No IATA standards are required for a cage intended for transporting dogs by car. Also, equip your car with a device to prevent the dog from jumping over the rear seats to reach you from the front…You should use some type of seat cover to protect your car and keep it clean.
What About the Backseat?
YES. In a transport box attached to the bench, or without a box but with a harness attached to the seat belt (not a collar: in the event of sudden braking, your dog could be strangled, his cervical vertebrae could break, while a harness will distribute the force over the dog’s body). Use a special car leash to connect your dog to the seat belt of the rear seat, like this one on Amazon.
Here is what the perfect backseat dog cover should have: it should cover the seats and the car doors., be easily attached to the inside of the car and allow for a dog to be strapped with seatbelts. It should be waterproof to protect you all the way from pee, vomit and anything else than can happen when a live animal is in a moving vehicle.
There are also booster seats for small dogs, to be placed and attached in the back seat. If you use this type of device, remember to properly attach your dog with a harness and make sure that the booster seat is also securely attached. Because in the event of an accident, it would become a deadly projectile for the passengers at the front of the car! Be careful, there is no wide open window in the back, your dog could pass through it with his head and risk getting dust in its eyes.
Can I Keep My Dog On the Front Seat of the Car?
Not recommended. Why? Because it will be difficult for you to pin a transport cage on the front seat and securely attach it. In addition, you will have to deactivate the front seat airbags if you place your companion in them… but remember to reactivate them if you are carrying a human… Complicated!
Should I Keep My Dog Unrestrained in the Car?
NEVER! Even if your dog is very well trained and very calm, its reactions can be unexpected in case of fear or accident. It could scare you, hinder your movements, and if it gets stuck with a leg in the back of the car you won’t be able to help it because you will be driving. In addition, in the event of an accident, your insurance may not compensate you if an unrestrained animal was in the cabin.
Can the Dog Travel in My Lap?
It will be much safer in the back seat, well secured. You must be in control of all your movements, and a reflex delayed even by half a second can be fatal. Your dog will love you no less if you put it safely in the back!
Tips for travelling well with your dog in the car:
- Take breaks, for yourself and your companion! He will appreciate to stretch his legs and to be able to pee a little…
- Don’t forget a small bag of kibbles and a bottle of water, and hydrate your pet at every break. Choose the folding bowl!
- Bring a large towel to wipe and sponge your dog after the ride, or your car will suffer.
- Teach your dog to get in and out of the car alone… think of your lumbar vertebrae!
- Teach your dog not to rush out of the car as soon as the door or trunk is opened, at the risk of seeing him throw himself into traffic… teach him to sit down when the vehicle is opened and wait for your order to leave.
A Note on Car Seat Covers for Dog Owners
If you are concerned about your leather car seat being scratched or dirtied, you should get a good dog seat cover or a dog carrier for your dog. For big dogs like Collies, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, car seat covers are pretty much a must. A dog seat cover can keep your dog from slipping and falling off the seat when you stop at traffic lights. It also keeps your car clean from mud, dirt, dog hair and claw scratches. For smaller dogs like Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and other toy dogs, they are best transported using dog carriers. As they are quite small, it is safer for them in the carrier than leaving them on the back seat, even if you use dog seat covers.