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Driving safely with your dogs

- Posted by in Dog Health & Wellbeing News
Driving safely with your dogs

Nobody wants to have to go on the same old walks over and over again with their dog, and your pet will probably feel the same. Dogs love new sights, sounds and smells, and they can easily get bored and unenthused by the same routes they have walked every day for months.

However, if you want to take your dog somewhere different at the weekend, this may require a drive. If this is the first time you have taken your dog in the car, or if you have had a bad experience with doing so in the past, then you might understandably be nervous about the prospect.

The first thing to remember is not to worry. If you are too agitated about driving with your dog, they will almost certainly pick up on it. This can make them nervous, and potentially even cause them to panic thanks to the chain reaction of their anxiety making you even more worried, and vice versa.

Travelling with a dog can be really easy, but you have to take a few important steps to make sure they are happy, and you are safe. Of these, the latter is the most important. Your dog might dislike some of the things you have to do to make sure your journey is a safe one, but they will not be hurt and will start enjoying themselves once the journey is over.

Something you should absolutely never do is let your dog sit on your lap while you are driving. It doesn't matter if they are small, well-behaved or docile, they can still cause an accident. If they jump up to lick your face or go down to inspect the pedals at the wrong moment, it could cause a serious accident.

Similarly, it is a very bad idea to have your dog unrestrained in the car. This is marginally more acceptable if you have other people in the back of the car to make sure the dog behaves, but it can still be a distraction and something that you will worry about, which takes your mind off the road.

You should make sure your dog is secured. This can be achieved with a special dog seatbelt for bigger pets, or with a carry-case just like the one you use to take them to the vet. If you opt for the latter, make sure the case is secured. Otherwise, it can fall over or roll about during the trip, potentially hurting your dog.

Even if your dog is secured, it is best not to have them up in the front with you. There is too much temptation to check to see if they are okay, or respond to any barks or howls they give off, rather than focusing on driving. Keep them in the back, where you can ignore them until you arrive.

This will also teach them to behave in the car. Dogs may act out in cars because they are nervous, but if you fuss over them to reassure them it's okay then it only reinforces the negative behaviour. As soon as they learn that there's nothing to be afraid of, they will calm down and get used to travelling with you.

It is usually a good idea to put something down, even if it is only a bit of newspaper, to protect your car. There are all kinds of ways a dog can ruin a vehicle for you, from excessive shedding to car-sickness and other unfortunate accidents. Making sure your seats are protected from this is usually a good idea.

Finally, many people choose to convert the boot of their car into a large travel box for their dogs. This is especially useful if you have more than one, as it can get crowded on the back seats. However, this will not work with any car. For one thing, the boot needs to be a good size, otherwise it becomes cruel.

You also need to make sure the boot has access to air and light. The car's back window usually lets in light to the boot, depending on the design of the car, and if you remove the parcel shelf then air can circulate throughout the car as well. It might be worth installing small bars or some other kind of barrier to prevent your dog from climbing over the seats into the main car, though.

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