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Safe Car Travel with your Dog

If you're heading off on a motoring holiday and taking your pooch along, you must make sure the dog is safe and secure in the car. Much like children, it's important to make sure your dog is securely belted up when in the car. Leaving your dog loose will mean that if you are involved in an accident, even at relatively low speed your dog is likely to be badly injured or killed, and will probably cause injury to the other passengers in the car.

Even a very small dog sitting unrestrained could cause severe injury to a passenger, and a larger breed such as an Alsatian or Labrador could be potentially lethal.

Dogs can, unfortunately, sometimes cause their owners to have an accident by distracting them. Many dogs will be happy enough to sit in the back of a car for the duration of the journey. However, other dogs may become excitable, and start jumping around, stick their head out of the window or try to get into the front of the car with the driver.

Therefore, it's important that dogs should be retrained using a car harness (basically a dog seatbelt). Many owners might feel that these are cruel, but they are no more so than the seatbelts we are all required to wear during every car journey. Some dogs even feel more secure whilst wearing a harness as it helps keep them stable when the car is on the move. There is a wide range of dog seatbelts available to fit all breeds, so you shouldn't have a problem finding one that will allow your dog to travel in comfort and safety.

You can also make use of a dog guard to keep your pet in the boot of the car, although this is really only suitable for hatchback cars. Another option is to make use of a dog crate, although you should make sure it is secured in your car in such a way as to minimise potential movement in case of a collision.

Other car travel advice

You should allow extra time for any journey you plan to take your dog on to allow time for frequent stops to allow your pet to exercise, get food and water and, of course, to relieve itself.

Some dogs are prone to carsickness as they're simply not used to the movement of a car, and can become distressed as a result. Watch out for the early signs of your dog becoming carsick during a journey. If your dog is feeling a bit ill he will tend to start yawning and drooling excessively, and may start panting as a sign of anxiety. If your dog begins to exhibit these symptoms you should open a window a little bit to allow him to get fresh air. It's also important that the dog is able to see out of the car, so try to place him in a spot where he can easily do this.

If you're planning a long motoring holiday, it's probably a fair idea to take your dog our on a number of day trips first. This will get him used to travelling in a car, and highlight any motion sickness problems you may encounter. You may also want to try out various dog motion sickness tablets that are available on the market, as these can help make a journey much more pleasant for your dog.

Dog Travel part I

Go to part II - Travelling by Ferry with your dog

Part III Travelling by Aeroplane with your Dog

Part IV - Car Travel with your Dog